A FEW days ago we pointed to a clever way of colour-coding the words in an English sentence to show their various origins. This particular method was automated, but a manual version of the approach is a lot older—and has been used at least once to make a very particular point.
In "Thinking the Twentieth Century", his valedictory work before his death from Lou Gehrig's disease in 2010, the historian Tony Judt describes visiting an exhibition at the Historical Museum of the City of Vienna, which included a reproduction of a rant from a right-wing newspaper:
The article, in German of course, was about the horrors of cosmopolitanism: the Jews and the Hungarians and Czechs and Slovaks and others who were polluting Vienna and creating crime. The curators had highlighted this text in different colors according to the words and their roots, to show how very little of it was in literary German: much of this characteristically nativist rant was, unbeknown to its author, written in words of Yiddish, Hungarian or Slavic origin.
It would have been fun, during the brief fit of American francophobia during the Iraq war (remember "freedom fries"?), to apply this technique to all the outraged politicians' speeches, showing how many words were of French origin. Or, indeed, for any country in the midst of a fit of nationalist pique.