Walla!? (Non, c’est voilà!)

The English language is constantly evolving. Definitions change, nouns become verbs, spelling changes, and so on. It’s also only natural that we should misuse words we borrow from other languages. However, sometimes a word is in an awkward stage between correct, original usage and accepted new usage.  “Walla” is one of these words, and it’s like fingernails on a blackboard when I hear people say it.

“Look at this hat. It’s empty. I tap three times, and walla! A rabbit comes out!”

OUCH!

The real word is voilà (sounds like vwah-lah). It’s French, and it means “see there.”

“Out of buttermilk for your pancakes? Combine a tablespoon of lemon juice and 15 tablespoons of milk, let sit five minutes, stir, and voilà! You’ve got buttermilk.”

Ahhh… doesn’t that feel better?

Now here’s how you can change the future: Correct your friends when they say walla. Tell them that the word they intend to use is voilà. And then they can correct their friends, and so on. Correct usage will win and we will all sound smarter.

Are there any foreign words you find people misusing? Do tell!

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My Favorite Poem (A Waterbird)

This is my favorite poem. It’s attributed to Lady Murasaki Shikibu, who wrote The Tale of Genji and is said to be the world’s first female novelist. Someday I’m going to get it tattooed on my back in Japanese calligraphy.

A waterbird
Seems as the water’s top
Seen from afar
I, too, drift along
On my way through the world.

水鳥を
水の上とや
よそに見む
我もうきたる
世を過しつ

Murasaki Shikibu
紫 式部

 What’s your favorite poem?