Y a du yaourt dans le frigo?
yah dew yah-oor dahl free-GO? Click below to hear this.*
Is there any yogurt in the fridge?
Yes, I know, I should get up and look for myself. But I’m too lazy, and there you are right beside the fridge!
Like fridge, le frigo is a foreshortening of a word. (Who wants to go around saying réfrigérateur anyway? Too many syllables!) But it doesn’t come from Frigidaire, the brand name that is as well known in Europe as it is in the United States. Nor is it from the adjective frigide, which gave us the Frigidaire.
A proper history of words needs to account for that hard /g/ sound. So we look to the Latin, and we find the noun frigus, frigoris, meaning cold.
If you never studied Latin, you may wonder why there are two words instead of one. In Latin, words have different forms depending on how they are used in the sentence. These forms have names, and they are always listed in the same order: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, ablative. In plain English: subject of the verb, possessive, object of a preposition, object of the verb, and too-complicated-to-explain-here-because-it-doesn’t-exist-in-English.
Interestingly, it’s often the second form of the noun that shapes the words that develop from it. So, while frigus gave us le froid in French, frigoris gave us frigorifié, meaning chilled or made cold (on purpose). Hence, le frigo!
As for le yaourt, no one agrees on how to spell it in either language, or how to pronounce it in French. The French can also be le yogourt or le yoghourt. Le yaourt is my favorite, because it is the most fun. Look at all those vowels!
Now, would you please bring me one? Peach would be nice, and I’m hungry!
*Some mobile phones, such as Blackberries, won’t display the audio player. If no player appears, here’s an alternative link to the audio file: