During my holiday vacation this year, I noticed how many foreign words had been borrowed and adapted into today’s English language. Two common examples of these are “menu” and “umbrella,” both words originating from the French and Italian languages respectively, but now used in our everyday English vocabulary. How many foreign words or phrases could I use to talk about my holiday? I wondered…


Living the Dolce Vita

a.k.a. the Sweet Life


Having arrived at our holiday home on the beautiful island of Corsica, we started the climb of 50 steps up to the apartment. Perhaps a holiday chalet would have been a better idea? I can certainly see why older people prefer bungalows! After we had dumped our suitcases, we headed up onto the roof terrace, with its stunning views of the port and the old town of Porto Vecchio. The sight of swifts gliding past, and the bells ringing in the ancient cathedral made a delightful setting as we dined al fresco, and then took an afternoon nap or siesta on the comfy chairs provided. This is the life!


Later we strolled down to the town square to hit the shops. Browsing through the essentials - shampoo, and even teabags for a nice cup of cha later, we came across richly decorated kaftans and bandannas decorated with the Corsican symbol of the Moor’s head. We were drawn into the delicatessen by the aromas of local hams and cheeses, as well as honey and the local “macquis” herbs used to flavour the traditional dishes. Delicious!


In the evenings we indulged in an aperitif of Cap Corse, a rich liqueur made with myrtle and quinine, before choosing from the menu. Wishing each other “bon appétit”, we tried the local wild boar stew (civet), or delicious Italian pasta dishes, cooked perfectly, al dente.


On a boat trip from the port of Bonifacio, our jaws dropped at the truly spectacular limestone rock formations, and the houses precariously balanced on the edge of the cliffs. Moored in the harbour, the catamarans and yachts of the glamorous jet-set were equally splendid. After this we made for the beach, with its golden sands and azure, turquoise waters. By this time the sun was shining, and we retreated from the heat to the cool of our parasol.


Watching the World Cup in the town bar was great fun. France did well, which was good! I was pleased we didn’t have to hear the pundits droning on ad nauseam about England. When we lost again, there was a serious feeling of déjà vu! Luckily, my husband is Scottish.


The last morning came, and after a blitz in the apartment, we drove off to the airport, hoping it wouldn’t be a case of umbrellas and anoraks on our return. Can’t wait to show everyone my photographs!


A Rough Guide:



chalet (Swiss French) – (a building, often in the garden or built for holidays)

aperitif (an alcoholic drink before a meal)

bon appétit (good eating – we don’t have an equivalent expression in English)

menu (a list of food available)

liqueur (a sweet, flavoured alcoholic drink)

parasol (a device to protect you from the sun)

déjà vu (a sense of something happening in the past)



dolce vita (the good life)

al fresco (outdoors)

al dente (not overcooked)

umbrella (a device to protect against the rain)



cha (tea – informal)



delicatessen (a shop selling cooked meats, cheeses etc)

blitz (to have a blitz – to clean up quickly)



shampoo (a soap for washing your hair)

bandanna (a cloth covering for your head)

pundit (Sanskrit) (an expert)



bungalow (a single-story dwelling)



yacht (a large boat used for pleasure)



anorak (a waterproof coat)



siesta (a light sleep after lunch)



catamaran (a double-hulled boat)



kaftan (a long, loose dress or robe)



aroma (a distinct, but pleasant smell)

ad nauseam (when something has been discussed for too long!)


Ancient Greek (derived from):

photograph (a picture taken by a camera)


Hero Image (Vacation) by Author