French people, as some of you may have noticed, can be a bit fractious when it comes to language use. I usually don’t care myself about real or perceived anglicisms (saying “conférence” instead of “colloque“, oh the horror!) but I’ve recently become susceptible to one special case, which gives me an idea of why people may take this kind of things so seriously.
I speak here of what seems to be a new rash of use of the verb “utilize” in English. Every time I read it, I shudder from head to foot — why not use the simpler, rounder and altogether nicer “use“? Psychologically, this is somewhat amusing because, after all, “utiliser” is the French version of the word, and also I don’t mind “utility” at all. I have the impression that for some reason I get annoyed because I don’t really know how to parse or say the word internally (where is the accent?), and this might be just because I have never (that I remember) heard this word used in a way which would make it sound good.
The other question is whether it is really something new, or happening more often, or if — somehow — I just managed to miss it before? (According to Google, it seems “utilize” is rather decreasing in use at the moment; but maybe it is rising in certain places, e.g. on the internet, and not so much in books?)