Matt Prior in Autocar (12th September 2012) reviews a new, more powerful version of the Peugeot RCZ remarking ‘it will offer “intense driving sensations”, according to the Franglais’.
This highlights one of the main differences between French and English.
English is a language which is Germanic in origin but which over time has acquired much vocabulary from romance languages, particularly French.
French has remained first and foremost a latin-based language with a few borrowings from elsewhere. ‘Calanque’ (inlet or creek) from the Visigoth ‘kalanka’ has always stuck in my mind.
Many French nautical terms come from the language of the Vikings, who settled in Normandy and from whom William 1st (The Conqueror) was descended. Ironically he would have spoken Norman French.
This allows English to benefit from many different registers thanks to this choice of vocabulary.
We are all aware of the difference between mutton (Fr. mouton) and sheep, or pork (Fr. porc) and pig reflecting the cultural and class differences between Norman and Saxon following the Conquest.
The English speaker can neatly switch from perceived ‘earthy’ terms of Saxon or Germanic origin to Latin based expressions, which seem to be either more impersonal or more verbose in tone.
The French speaker cannot help but using latinate expressions and may sound verbose or overly elegant to the anglophone ear, even when being extremely earthy.
So the “intense driving sensations” offered by this car might be translated into English as ‘belting drive’...