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World How Pure The Tongue? New Row Over English Creeping Into The French Language


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Englishisms in France: Readers' franglais favourites

from BBC Magazine


A row over plans to teach some courses at French universities in English has outraged some defenders of the language of Moliere - but plenty of French people habitually sprinkle their speech with franglais. Here, readers share their favourite anglicisms.

1. On a recent visit to an aerospace company near Paris, I was surprised to hear French engineers use "no-'ow" [know-how] instead of "savoir faire". Roy Wood{censored}, Olympia, WA, USA

2. When at school (circa 1966) we had a recording played in a French lesson, in which two boys going on a camping trip discussed at length the need to take "les baked beans". I've tended to pronounce them as "back-ed beans" ever since, which is why I remember it! Sue Perks, Facebook

3. Amongst my favourites are "faire du shopping" and "le booze-cruising." What could be more Franglais than "je vais faire du booze-cruising"? Peter Walter, Bromley, UK

4. I have genuinely seen this with my own eyes: At the English railway station: "The buffet is open." At the French Railway station: "Le snack bar est ouvert."

"The French parliament is debating a new road map for French universities, which includes a proposal to allow courses to be taught in English. For some, this amounts to a betrayal of the national language and, more specifically, of a particular way at looking at the world - for others it's just accepting the inevitable."

5. The Quebecois find English nouns annoying but enjoy making verbs from English words (flipper = to freak out, for example). Ruby Irene Pratka, Facebook

6. My current favourite has to be "C'est le must!", which is how some French people now translate "It's de rigueur". Oh the irony. AK Fortis-Evan, Southampton, UK

7. I live and work in France and have convinced my colleagues that verbing is fun. We have created a new verb (regular "er" form), "luncher" - to lunch. "Lunchez-vous avec moi aujourd'hui?" is now regularly heard in my office. Joyful playing with language is fun, not a sin! Tom, Toulouse, France

8. Just look at new technology… you will have great difficulty getting anywhere without finding English terms, from "le hardware" to "le software" via the inevitable "le spam", whilst anyone who contributes to a forum has added "un post". Sports are also full of English terms, from "le goal average" to "le coach" via "le coaching" (tactical substitutions). One which I admit irritates me is the relatively recent verb "scorer" which is now used almost exclusively in football rather than the traditional "marquer" ("marquer un but" is to score a goal). Paul Darby, Clermont Ferrand, Puy de Dôme, France

9. It pleases me no end that French for a walkie-talkie is... "talkie-walkie"! galaxy_nut, London, UK

10. Earlier this year, I was in Meribel, France, on a snowboarding holiday. I always make an effort to speak the language of whichever country I visit, so it was particularly strange that I was using the words "la planche a neige" (French for snowboarding) yet they all talked about "(le) snowboard".

11. It has definitely become the "cool" (or "supercool", or even "hypercool" - pronounced eepacool - as my former French flatmates used to say) thing to do to incorporate as much English into a sentence as possible, to show off your knowledge of the outside world. Made-up words like "footing", to mean jogging, have crept up recently.... I have seen stand-up comedians being described as "un one-man-show", or even comediennes as "une one-woman-show". The mayor of New York was described in one newspaper as "un self-made-man". And when I sat down for dinner for the first time with my French flatmates, they tried to embrace the English language to welcome the present company with "Good eating!" - they were shocked to hear that "Bon appetit!" makes perfect sense, not just because it's not English, but because we seem too lazy to think of anything new for ourselves.

12. Seen in the window of a men's outfitters in Paris, the sign: "Tout Snob - Presque Cad."

13. "Se geeker" - participate in geekish activity such as playing video games. "Il est en train de se geeker devant son ordi." [He is doing something geekish on his computer.

14. As a university student of French and Business, I went abroad last year on a work placement. At the airport in Nice, I found the French usage of "le check-in" and "le check-out" for airport terminology surprising and funny!

15. I remember being taught "un chewing gum" in one of my first ever French lessons.

16. Estate agents use the English sounding "home staging" to mean decorating or otherwise changing the look of a property to increase its chance of selling. Otherwise known as "relooking", another (badly) borrowed word.

17. My favourite while living in France 2000-2005 was "lifting" to indicate cosmetic surgery.

18. The red carpet (in the news because of Cannes Film Festival) is no longer le tapis rouge but... le "red carpet".

19. Some of the most commonly-heard franglais mixes derive from grabbing parts of common English and creating strange hybrid nouns such as a "smoking", a "parking", a "dressing", a "shampooing", a "snacking" etc which leave you waiting for the finishing word. (A "smoking" describes a smart jacket - from smoking jacket, a "dressing" would be where you store your clothes - a dressing room.) Another annoying misappropriation is the noun "fashion" which, in French, becomes an adjective, as in "J'adore tes chaussures - tres fashion." Here in France I admire the brave efforts of many small restaurant owners who offer English translations on their menus. Unfortunately, their choice of words from their well-thumbed family dictionaries can sometimes result in startling dishes such as "Menu of the Earth" (menu de terroir), "Jumped Chicken" (poulet sauté) "Duck's Foot" (cuisse de canard) and, my favourite so far, "Salmon Pavement" (pavé de saumon).

20. For actors and artists it's always great to get "un booking".

The examples quoted in the article were contributed by individuals whose names are posted in the original version of the story. Identities of individuals have been removed.
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Aug 17, 2010
World citizen!
All languages get mixed up. Hinglish is very common in India. Panjabis I know mix it up too such as "I'm gunning the attaa"! Kenyan Sikhs insert Swahilli words in and my Malaysian friends frequently slot in Malay words. I think this makes life and language richer!!



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