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Fait accompli

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Would an average adult know the pronunciation and meaning of "fait accompli"?
#1 - July 23, 2012, 07:11 PM
WHISTLING WINGS
Sylvan Dell, July 2008

I think so. I mean I wouldn't be shocked if an adult did not know it, but I think it's pretty common.
#2 - July 23, 2012, 07:16 PM

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Not sure.  The average educated adult should.
#3 - July 23, 2012, 07:34 PM
VAMPIRINA BALLERINA series (Disney-Hyperion)
SUNNY'S TOW TRUCK SAVES THE DAY (Abrams)
GROUNDHUG DAY (Disney-Hyperion, 2017)
among others

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Agree.
#4 - July 23, 2012, 07:50 PM
The Farwalker Trilogy
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 :paperbag Well, there's always google, right? And I think the context would sort of grease it through until a google connection could be made...
#5 - July 23, 2012, 10:50 PM

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Apparently, my four year college education didn't prepare me for that word. Sorry! (off to google...)
#6 - July 24, 2012, 03:33 PM
Being Frank (Flashlight Press)
http://flashlightpress.com/

Liz
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I know what it means, some may guess it.  But have you ever watch those "Person on the street" questions where they ask people simple questions like who is Joe Biden? or What is a tsunami?  Almost 9 out of 10 people shown on television cannot answer the question. 

However, I am not sure that reflects the average book reader.  I am not sure how they pick the people they show on TV when they ask these questions.  I always figure it is like watching are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader?  When ever I watch that show, I just shake my head at the adults on the show.  Especially the ones who miss the 1st and 2nd grade questions. 

By the way, 5th grade is chosen for a reason, that is the level at which the many of adults in the US read and comprehend.   
#7 - July 24, 2012, 03:57 PM
You must do the things you think you cannot do.  Eleanor Roosevelt

http://www.lizstrawwrites.com/

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I expect that some folks are like me, in that that they know alot about the stuff that interests them and not so much about other stuff. I can tell you tons of stuff about writing, but ask me about US history (even 5th grade history) and I have to break out the books and research.

I am not so sure that indicates a lack of intellect or ability to comprehend, but maybe a lack of interest and the inability to win Trivial Pursuit when playing against my hubby! :)

And yes, I am relearning tons of stuff while homeschooling. My psychology degree did NOT prepare me for this!
#8 - July 24, 2012, 04:33 PM
« Last Edit: July 25, 2012, 09:27 AM by DonnaE »
Being Frank (Flashlight Press)
http://flashlightpress.com/

I had a vague idea of what this meant, but I'd have to look this up too.
I'm like you, Donna, I know a lot about my areas of interest, but not so much about other things some times.
I don't think most of the adults I know would know that phrase and most of my friends are college-educated.
#9 - July 25, 2012, 08:24 AM
twitter.com/enzor_jenni
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Where are you using this phrase? A query? An agent or editor should know it. In a story? I'd only use it in dialogue if it's the sort of thing the character would say, and I'd be sure the meaning was clear from context.

BTW, I'm fond of French phrases in reading and writing but speak them less frequently because of my lack of French knowledge. When I was about 30 I did take one semester of French at community college just so that I could manage pronunciations without too much shame. 
#10 - July 25, 2012, 08:33 AM
Kell Andrews
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THE BOOK DRAGON, Sterling, October 2, 2018
MIRA FORECASTS THE FUTURE, Sterling, 2016

I consider myself reasonably educated (have a B.S.). I have worked in schools and university hospitals where we have to do a lot of continuing education. I research a lot because I am a geek like that and everyone knows it, so they usually ask me lots of random questions, knowing that I will look it up. I read a lot of diverse writing--especially medical writings/journals, educational policy, human development, physical science. I'm forced by my dad (I am almost 47 years old!) to read a lot of political/constitutional writings in order to have meaningful conversations about what he likes but what I dislike.

That said, I have never heard anyone in real life say that and I don't recall ever reading it.

Maybe I've heard it on TV, but, if so, it didn't stick. I was able to figure out what it meant (I don't speak French, do speak some Spanish, so I had a reasonable idea based on breaking down the word). On the question of pronunciation, I'm not sure. I believe I would pronounce it correctly. I could have figured the meaning in context. I have lived primarily in the Midwest. (and I do usually win Trivial Pursuit!)   :)
#11 - July 25, 2012, 08:37 AM

Unless I missed it, I believe your intended audience was described broadly as "adult." I think you might want to focus a bit more on what segment of the adult audience you're targeting. While I would read through the phrase without a thought, I'm among the sadly thin slice of Americans who are avid readers, and an even sadder thinner slice who consume challenging literary novels with pleasure (if not always total comprehension). I've been listening to Jeremy Irons read Lolita (mon Dieu, quel révélation!) and it's absolutely crammed with French expressions considerably more obscure than fait accompli. I would be less confident if I were targeting the "50 Shades of Gray" demographic. So know your reader!
#12 - July 25, 2012, 08:55 AM
In Real Life, Tuttle Publishing, Fall 2014

With any foreign expression (even very common ones), I'd wonder why it's necessary to use it -- is it to show the education/pretension of the speaker? To me it's the kind of thing normal people don't use, not even articulate people, when there are perfectly good English words that would substitute (e.g, it's a done deal)

Lizstraw, I imagine they talk to a thousand people and edit it down to make everybody look dumb (some of the people might be faking it to get on TV, too).
#13 - July 25, 2012, 09:01 AM

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(and I do usually win Trivial Pursuit!)   :)

You are sooo uninvited to my annual, "let's-let-Donna-win-the-Trivial-pursuit-game" party! (oh that's just too mean, you CAN come, but you have to be on MY team!) :)
#14 - July 25, 2012, 09:03 AM
Being Frank (Flashlight Press)
http://flashlightpress.com/

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It depends on the character voice. Some characters would say, "fait accompli." Some would say, "done deal."

I would probably think "fait accompli" but then hesitate on the pronunciation and say "done deal." I am more pretentious inside my head than out of it.
#15 - July 25, 2012, 09:16 AM
Kell Andrews
www.kellandrews.com
Twitter @kellandrewsPA

THE BOOK DRAGON, Sterling, October 2, 2018
MIRA FORECASTS THE FUTURE, Sterling, 2016

Thanks, everyone! I was actually asking for a friend who was wondering about one of the possible titles for his forthcoming novel. His original title was "Theory of Remainders," but the editor thought that sounded too much like a non-fiction science book. The book is set in France and involves new revelations about a murder that happened a while ago. It's half mystery, half literary fiction. Thanks for your help!
#16 - July 25, 2012, 09:47 PM
WHISTLING WINGS
Sylvan Dell, July 2008

FWIW - I wouldn't use that as a title, because though people may be familiar with it (thank you, Poirot), they may hesitate to *say* it. And if you're recommending a book to someone, you need to be able to either spell it or pronounce it and, in my humble opinion, anything that might keep someone from typing or saying the title out loud should be avoided... as it would hinder word of mouth...
#17 - July 26, 2012, 12:20 AM
Robin

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Ditto.

FWIW - I wouldn't use that as a title, because though people may be familiar with it (thank you, Poirot), they may hesitate to *say* it. And if you're recommending a book to someone, you need to be able to either spell it or pronounce it and, in my humble opinion, anything that might keep someone from typing or saying the title out loud should be avoided... as it would hinder word of mouth...
#18 - July 26, 2012, 05:29 AM
Being Frank (Flashlight Press)
http://flashlightpress.com/

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Great point, Robin. I would be afraid to recommend it. Plus, although it is set in France, it must be clear to English readers that it is in English.
#19 - July 26, 2012, 05:33 AM
Kell Andrews
www.kellandrews.com
Twitter @kellandrewsPA

THE BOOK DRAGON, Sterling, October 2, 2018
MIRA FORECASTS THE FUTURE, Sterling, 2016

FWIW - I wouldn't use that as a title, because though people may be familiar with it (thank you, Poirot), they may hesitate to *say* it. And if you're recommending a book to someone, you need to be able to either spell it or pronounce it and, in my humble opinion, anything that might keep someone from typing or saying the title out loud should be avoided... as it would hinder word of mouth...

I read Agatha Christie obsessively in HS (which was admittedly a LONG time ago). Didn't remember it. Wow.

Agree with the posters re: avoiding it as a title.
#20 - July 26, 2012, 05:37 AM

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I once got an email that included the phrase "a faded complete." And I don't think the sender was joking.

(BTW, I'd agree: not for a title.)
#21 - July 26, 2012, 06:11 AM

I think it would be fine as a title for an adult book but wouldn't use it for a kids book.
#22 - July 26, 2012, 10:45 AM

I read Agatha Christie obsessively in HS (which was admittedly a LONG time ago). Didn't remember it. Wow.

Agree with the posters re: avoiding it as a title.
I'm pretty sure I heard David Suchet say it in one of the movies rather than read it in one of the books...
#23 - July 26, 2012, 12:00 PM
Robin

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I learned that phrase when I read ANASTASIA KRUPNIK. ;-) And I still remember that, 15 or so years later.
#24 - July 29, 2012, 08:03 AM

m_stiefvater

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With any foreign expression (even very common ones), I'd wonder why it's necessary to use it -- is it to show the education/pretension of the speaker? To me it's the kind of thing normal people don't use, not even articulate people, when there are perfectly good English words that would substitute (e.g, it's a done deal)


This is a very strange sentiment to me — most of the English language is borrowed from somewhere else at this point, and if we didn't constantly grab other words from other languages and try them out/ make them our own, we'd have a bland language incapable of demonstrating nuance and texture. One only has to study a pure, ancient language like Latin or Greek to see how borrowing from other places makes expressing ourselves much easier.
#25 - July 29, 2012, 11:59 AM

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Agreed, Maggie! In fact, a lot of English speakers don't realize how much they're speaking other languages in everyday talking. For example, Yiddish is the only language whose native speakers get fewer each year but whose usage goes up, and there are tons of other words and phrases we use every day that are actually French, Hindi, etc.
#26 - July 29, 2012, 12:19 PM

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