I recently took you on a linguistic tour of foreign words used in English (starting with the letters A-E).
This is the second installment of “How to Add ‘Je Ne Sais Quoi’ to your Marketing Content.” Continuing with F-J, let’s add international flair to your print or digital marketing: headlines, teasers, and/or body copy.
My “secret sauce” remains the delightful A Certain “Je Ne Sais Quoi” by Chloe Rhodes. It’s a great resource for those of you constantly churning out promotional content, whether for your own business or an employer.
I’m including the words and phrases that I think have genuine marketing potential. Again, you’ll be flying (mostly) solo when figuring out pronunciations. Here’s that handy forvo.com link from the original post to help ease your verbal pain.
The More Fervor You Create with Your Marketing, the Better: Naturally, I begin with some controversy. While Ms. Rhodes’s book initially spells this word as furvor, her example sentence displays it as fervor. The latter spelling appears in just about every dictionary I have access to, online and offline.
So, I’ll the spelling of least resistance by sticking with fervor.
Mamma mia–Italians know how to raise a ruckus. That’s because…
“The British stick to the Italian spelling [furore], but both versions have the same meaning: ‘a sudden, excited outburst,’ usually by a large body of people, about something that has caused a stir.”
Fervor sounds like fever, doesn’t it? As long as raising one’s temperature produces positive results, I encourage you to use the word to create excitement, not controversy.
Here’s how you might heat up your marketing copy:
“Oops! In our fervor to give you access to La Dolce Treat’s exclusive summer preview of new gelato flavors (and a coupon for a free cupful), we neglected to include the correct link. We are dispiace tonto…
Other “F” words and phrases for your marketing consideration:
- Factotum (“do everything”–Latin)
- Fait accompli (“an accomplished fact”–French)
- Frisson (“shiver”–French–also pairs well with frozen desserts)
Recycle Soviet-Era Glasnost When Explaining Your Policy to Customers or Clients: Poor Mikhail Gorbachev. He worked like a Borzoi (Russian wolfhound) to create political transparency in the former USSR during the 1980s. But all he got for his efforts was a lot of toska (and eventually, Boris Yeltsin).
What’s a modern marketer to do? I say: go retro, but do it humorously. Per my fervid friend Ms. Rhodes,
“The word is now used to describe any drive for openness by a government or organization.”
It’s unlikely you visit my blog for government-related tips, so I’ll use glasnost in a business example:
“At Sleepy Crawlers, we maintain a lenient policy of glasnost regarding a poopy diaper. If you change it before we have to ask you to rectify the dirty deed, your adorable cherub can remain until playtime ends. Those are the absorbent rules…”
Other “G” words and phrases for your marketing consideration:
- Gamine (“impish girl or urchin”–French)
- Gauche (“left or clumsy”–also French)
- Gravitas (“heaviness, seriousness”–Latin)
Business Owners, Embrace Marketing to the Many–the Hoi Polloi: Some of you might know the negative connotation associated with these ancient Greek words (“hoy puh-loy”).
How did a phrase indicating democratic representation of Athens’s “common populace” turn into crass vulgarity? Chloe Rhodes sheds some light on 19th-century British snobbery:
“…when class could be judged by whether you had been taught the classics, it [hoi polloi] gained its modern usage to describe the vulgar crowd, also known as the ‘great unwashed.'”
Oh, please. With the acceleration of mobile technology (and selfie sticks), most people now occupy social media’s “vulgar crowd.” In fact, some of us are more hoi than polloi. Watch me tear down snooty semantics and build it back up as marketing wizardry:
“Be sure to enjoy the benefits of stepping out on Rock the Casbar’s Hoi Polloi Night. If you can prove via Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat that you’re a registered voter, our featured cocktail, the bipartisan, is on us. Vote early and often, you huddled masses yearning to drink for free!”
Other “H” Words and phrases for Your Marketing Consideration:
- Hara-kiri (“cutting the belly”; the more formal term for it is “seppuku”–Japanese)
- Hinterland (“backcountry”–German)
- Honcho (“squad leader”–Japanese–banzai!)
Follow Al Pacino’s Scent of a Woman Example–Go In Loco Parentis in Your Copy: Why should our lawyer friends and other “courtly” professionals enjoy all the linguistic laughs?
Retired Lt. Col. Frank Slade invokes this Latin phrase (“in place of a parent”) during the film’s meme-and-gif-worthy final monologue. He then launches into his bravura defense of economically disadvantaged prep-school lad Charles Simms.
I’ll allow Ms. Rhodes to handle the legalities:
“This is a legal term that relates to someone who takes responsibility for another person’s child. … It is most commonly used in the school environment … It is also used in a self-referential way by parents looking after someone else’s child.”
Imagine the gusto in loco parentis will add to your marketing content:
“The Nagging Nutritionist couldn’t be more serious about helping you reach your dietary goals. How? By radically altering how you think about food. When an emergency strikes, she’ll show up at your door and go in loco parentis on you by swiftly removing that high-carb, high-glycemic, low-nutrition slab of a snack in your sweaty hands. Welcome to your new legal guardian…”
Other “I” words and phrases for your marketing consideration:
- In vino veritas (“truth in wine”–Latin)
- Incognito (“in disguise”–Italian)
- Incommunicado (“cut off from communication”–Spanish)
Like a Gallic Godmother, I’m Gonna Sprinkle Y’all with Marketing Joie de Vivre: Perhaps you were expecting the “I” spotlight to shine on je ne sais quoi. But you knew I would end this post en Francais, n’est-ce pas? You don’t have to speak French to appreciate the “spirit fingers” effect now enveloping you…
Chloe Rhodes explains the ebullient joy of living:
“Because of its catch-all nature, the phrase can be used to express the enjoyment of specific things, such as eating or drinking, or the more profound and comprehensive joy felt throughout one’s whole being for the simple reality of being alive.”
I advise using this phrase sparingly. But if it moves you, feel free to co-opt it as part of your brand identity (e.g., company name, tagline, blog name, etc.).
Here’s one joyful example:
“At Breathe Deep Therapy LLC, we truly believe working with a respiratory therapist can help you reclaim much more than normal breathing functionality. You’ll also regain a whole lot of joie de vivre. That’s French for ‘I am loving life again!'”
Other “J” words and phrases for your marketing consideration:
- Jezebel (“a wicked, blasphemous woman”–Hebrew)
- Juggernaut (“lord of the universe”–Sanskrit)
- Junta (“committee”–Spanish)
Do you ever experiment with foreign words and phrases as a way to differentiate your marketing content far from the madding crowd? What foreign expressions do you think would create more of a fervor (or furvor) in print and/or online?
Of the suggestions offered here, which might you sample, and which do you deem a walk on the sauvage side?
When next my blog’s editorial calendar decides to bestow upon you 1,300 words of joie de vivre, we’ll continue with the letters K-O. Arrivederci!
Lori Shapiro is the owner of By All Writes LLC, a business-to-business (B2B) company in Marlton, New Jersey, that plies its trade via copywriting, editing, and other content-marketing services. She revels in shielding her clients from the time-consuming pain of writing their own print or web marketing and promotional copy.
Please call Lori Shapiro of By All Writes LLC at 856-810-9764 (or e-mail her via email@example.com) to schedule the gratis 20-minute consultation that will resolve your current copywriting or editing dilemma…