In its annual updating, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), which bills itself as the definitive record of the English language, has added approximately 500 new words to its pages. As a Canadian one of them is of particular interest: depanneur (or as it is in French dépanneur, although the OED folks don’t bother with the accent).
A depanneur is a corner or local store. A convenience store that sells a bit of everything should you be caught short. From toilet paper to newspaper, milk to beer, a whole gamut of goods can be found at these establishments. The owners work long hours and often split the duties among family members.
Depanneur is a borrowed word, a loanword, given the fact that it is a French word. It seems that it made it to the OED because it is widely used by both Anglophone and Francophone Quebecers. It may well be because I live in a predominantly Anglophone part of the city, but I believe I can say in all honesty that I have never used the word depanneur, nor its abbreviated form “dep”. For that matter I rarely, if ever, hear any of my neighbours using the word either.
That’s not to say it would come as a shock if I did hear it used, but it just seems folks around here are more apt to say they are going to the store, or mention the name of the store or its specialty, and leave it at that. “Just going to nip over to the beer/newspaper/milk store.” By the same token, the term convenience store is also rarely if ever used in my neck of the woods.
Not this this is the first loanword, but in a place where language can be a prickly issue, I have to wonder how French purists will feel about having one of their words stripped of its accent and lumped into the Oxford English Dictionary.