Racounteur means a person who tells anecdotes in a skillful and amusing way. It’s said it has a French origin and it comes from the French word “raconter”, which means ‘relate, recount’. My question is if it comes from “raconter”, who takes the trouble to change the tail to “teur”? I can just imagine this whimsical troublemaker, who must be thinking, “English words haven’t had enough complication with their irregular spellings. Let me make this more difficult. I am anticipating that one day there will be millions and millions of non-native speakers. Let me play a little language prank on them.”
I have always wanted to be a racounteur, but somehow my storytelling skills are no good. My friends often tell me that I shouldn’t laugh myself when I am telling a story no matter how funny it is, but I just can’t help it. I would laugh while my listeners are puzzled. Then I would say it is so funny and why don’t you laugh. The polite ones will try to give a fake laugh out of sympathy for my effort while the honest ones will tell me I don’t know how to tell a story. This prompts me to suspect that a racounteur is acquired by birth, like a poet or a musician. If one is not born a racounteur, one can hardly become one by training or learning–actually I am saying this only wishing to be contradicted. I grew up with the principle that if one can’t become what one wants to be, one continues to try until one dies of trying–only to a certain extent though.
There are several words that look similar in spelling to racounteur:
- raccoon: a grayish-brown American mammal that has a foxlike face with a black mask and a ringed tail.
- recondite: (of a subject or knowledge) little known; abstruse.
- reconnoiter: make a military observation of (a region).
- reconnaissance: military observation of a region to locate an enemy or ascertain strategic features.