I learned a new French verb this week: ‘zapper’. This means ‘to zap’, and is conjugated in the usual way to all regular ‘er’ verbs.

But when this was imparted to me this week by my conversation group teacher – I had to ask “Er … what does it mean?”. Rather perplexed she replied : “It means the same as in English”.

Me: “Oh, right … so what does it mean in English?”
Her: “It’s the same: zapping, when you change channels with a remote control you say you are zapping the channels.”
Me: “Do I? Well I’ve never said it before. It sounds like an Americanism.”
Her: “What do you say then?”
Me: “I flick channels, hop channels, switch channels, flip, scan, but I don’t zap them.”

She, and all my classmates, gave me a wry smile as if to say “pedantic git”. Clearly no-one believed me. So I looked it up and damn-it they were right!

‘Zap’ has several meanings, all of which are classed as ‘slang’ (so it probably is an Americanism) and “to change channels” is indeed the FORTH listed meaning.

So there you have it – whilst trying to learn a new language I also learn something about my own (at no extra charge).

Must go, I have some zapping to do!