Franglais: Noun, masculine [frahng-gley] French spoken or written with a large mixture of English words, especially those of American origin. Anglicism. (Source: dictionary.com)
Quel scoop: Le Franglais has become an inescapable part of daily life in France. Peppering one’s conversation with a few chosen English (American?) words is très, très in, don’t you know?
Main culprits: Journalists (looking at you, sports commentators!) Advertisers. Business people. Teenagers.
Check out the newest product in the T.G.V. (high speed train) line, introduced by the très French S.N.C.F.: le Ouigo. Get it? We Go/Oui-Go already has its own website. We predict a very bright future for this little guy…
|OuiGo: The low cost TGVTrop top. Trop cool.
The problem with le Franglais is that many French people don’t understand it. At all.
My grandmother, Andrée, is not around anymore. When I stayed with her in the summer, she used to mention young people going crazy at the local neesh-cluhb. It took me a while to figure out she was referring to a “night-club.” She tried, bless her heart. Unlike most French children today, she had never studied English in school.
I can just imagine her reaction if she heard the following conversation between two co-workers (translation below *):
– “Tu as lu la dernière newsletter?”– “Oui, mais ça ne sera pas un best-seller. Ils auraient pu brainstormer avant!”– “J’aime bien le nouveau look quand même.” – “Oui, c’était un must.” – “Bon, j’y go. Je suis en retard. On chat plus tard?”– “Ok.”
Andrée would just shake her head and mumble something along the lines of “Peuchère! Le monde est devenu fou!” (May God have mercy on us! The world has gone mad.) speaking in French and le patois, the Southern dialect she had learned while growing up. To each their own.
We are all guilty of over-using English words. They have been around for ever, it seems. Weekend. Sandwich. Baby-sitter. Design. Discount. Gadget. Happy end. And the list goes on.
Like everything else in life, it is ok to use them… in moderation.
The worst offenders seem to be publicists: To appeal to younger audiences, they will create new words, and mix French and English. This guarantees they do not have to follow a rule imposed by the French government: Translating all marketing and advertising materials, such as labels, used in the French market. A few years ago, a clever French advertiser working for a big communication company encouraged the French public to use a new cell phone: “Pokez! Taggez! Likez!” What a creative use of English verbs in the [French] command form, l’impératif.
Clearly, some are under the impression that using English words in conversation makes them sound branché, or dans le coup (“in.”)
Andrée would not be impressed and would just scratch her head. Andrée would be right, and she had no patience avec les snobs. Advertisers would have lost Andrée at “design,” with no hope of a “come back.”
I am personally scratching my head and wondering what les Immortels (the Immortals,) have been up to lately. For those of you who are not familiar with l’Académie Française, it is a true French institution. La crème de la crème. Le Cardinal de Richelieu created this unique circle in 1635, when it became a priority for King Louis XIII to unify the French around a common language. The Académie members were assigned a very important mission, creating a thorough encyclopedia reflecting the richness of the French Language. To date, nine editions have been published.
|L’Institut de France
Don’t be fooled, the Immortals do die eventually, just like everyone else. Some are quite old, but they have all led distinguished lives in the arts, literature, or politics, before they can be elected.
|Former French president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing
wearing the traditional Académicien “Habit Vert” on induction day (2004)
Imagine these venerable men (and a few women,) scrambling furiously to come up with a French version of every single foreign word that has just showed its ugly nose in French streets and offices. I can picture them trying to invent a French version of “flashmob.” — Insert major bout of head scratching, à la Andrée.
The Immortals are old and tired. They must feel overwhelmed when they turn on the TV on Sunday afternoons to watch the French soccer team tackle England, and hear the commentators repeat with sheer delectation: “coach,” “fair play, “penalty,” “shoot,” “supporter,” and so on.
Pauvres Immortels. Pauvres Académiciens. Time to pull out those swords, Messieurs! King Louis XIII and Richelieu would not have it otherwise!
|Académicien (and film maker) Jean-Jacques Annaud|
Even though the beautiful French language, la langue de Molière (Molière’s language,) is currently under attack, I would like to end this story on a happy note.
To my countrymen who do not have a clue what Franglais is all about, here is way of making it work for you, too. The end of this post will be en français so you can make the most of my advice. Comprend qui pourra (Understand if you can.)
Ne désespérez pas.
Vous aussi pouvez parler anglais.
Voici quelques traductions françaises pour certaines de ces expressions anglo-saxonnes qui vous énervent tant (**)…
Pour dire: Prononcez:
L’addition (= the bill) Débile
Plus d’argent (= more money) Mors mon nez
Nous sommes en retard (= we are late) Oui, Arlette
Je cuisine (= I am cooking) Âme coquine
Verre sur la table (= glass on the table) Glaçone de thé beule
Somewhere, I know it, Andrée is smiling…
– “Did you read the latest newsletter?”– “Yes, but it won’t be a best seller. They could have brainstormed first!”– “I still like the new look.”– “Yes. It was a must.”– “Well, I’ve got to go. I am late. Shall we chat later?”– “Ok.”
(**) Merci, blaguesdeouf.skynetblogs.be for these hysterical translations.
February 2021 update: This article was written years ago. Most of my insights still apply today. R.I.P. Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (1926-2020)
Hahaha okay this makes sense to me now. There have been a few times where I’ve read a fashion blog in French (or even heard someone speak) and there are english words peppered in. And I always thought “wow, French and English aren’t that different, are they? We share some of the same words!” I’ve been a victim of Franglais!
Et voilà. Now you know. It was all Franglais my dear Jenny. On the bright side, you won’t be totally lost the first time you land in Paris…
Bonjour ma chère amie,
Il est juste que nous râlons parfois en écoutant certains… écorcher notre belle langue !!
Notre dictionnaire est pourtant bien complet et on dirait qu’il est presque indispensable de devoir placer dans une phrase un mot anglais déformé!
Mon grand-père ne supportait pas et cela le mettait en colère !…
et pourtant mon Léo dit bien “bye” à la fin de ses billets !!
De là-haut il le maudirait !
Je ne te dirai pas de passer un excellent week-end mais une bonne fin de semaine.
Gros bisous à toi.
Bonjour Martine. Râler? Les Français? JA-MAIS! 🙂 On dirait que ton grand-père aurait bien aimé rencontrer Andrée Laffitte. Ils en auraient eu, des choses à se raconter…
What a wonderful and interesting post!
Your french version at the end made me laugh loud – wonderful!
Merci et bonne journee, Monika
I am glad you enjoyed it Monika. It was a fun story to write too!
This is hilarious but we also know D’english = Dutch English. For the older people it is very hard as well. We have so much French in our language but that is for ages so it is understood but now, with the TV and social media, they’re lost.
Hugs to you and keep those humorous posts coming!
Bonjour Mariette. I had never heard of “D’English,” but it makes sense that the same phenomenon would be happening in other countries as well. I will keep those humorous posts coming if you promise to keep on reading 🙂
This is a great post.To be fair there are also a lot of French words used every day by the English as well. I think the confusing thing for the French is that they hear an English word and presume they can use it that way when they are speaking English. Particularly nouns ending in ‘ing’ like jogging, footing, parking. It is so funny when someone tells me they are wearing baskets to go footing.
As I speak both languages I understand franglais.
So voila that is all I have to say. I should send you a bouquet for your contribution to mutual understanding 🙂
Merci, Kerry. Good observations, particularly about that annoying habit of turning English nouns into verbs by adding -ing at the end. Guilty as charged. Most French people do that 🙂
Great post! C’est vrai…mais….America’s favorite word is French: Entrepreneur.
And what a great word it is. One I have embraced for many years…
Super post, très drôle. Je reconnais mes enfants là, bilingues, ils inventent des verbes tous les jours en rajoutant la terminaison “er” au gérondif Américain. C’est une guerre de tous les jours de garder un Français correct à la maison (surtout quand nous même on perd le mot Français ……).
En France, cet été, j’ai entendu plein de “Définitivement”, mais aussi “ça fait sens” …….
Sylvain (my French Neighbor)
Ah, ces enfants bilingues. Ils nous font bien rire, hein, Sylvain? Il faut se battre pour garder un Français correct au moins chez soi. On ne peut malheureusement pas faire grand-chose pour le Français de la rue, ou le Français des Media. Même ces bons vieux Immortels ont levé le pied on dirait!
I just lost my morning coffee all over my bathrobe in reading your funny expressions at the end. Still laughing every time I read them. I think I will take them to my French class today. Thank you for starting my day with a good chuckle.
Honestly, Jennie, I did the same thing when I found those expressions online. I can’t take credit for them, but they were too good not to share, don’t you think? Let me know what your French class thought, ok — I mean “d’accord?”
Here..my grandsons grow up bilingual..so you can imagine the actual language spoken until both are mastered:)
It’s always been un peu COOL le Franglais:)
Your pronunciations are hysterically cute and on target.
Un beau mélange franco-anglais it must be, Nana! Children can be creative that way. Not to worry, your grandson will get it in time. My son did (but he still comes up occasionally with hilarious creations!)
Ah, but it’s tres cool to use French words when speaking/writing in English, didn’t you know? 🙂 Bisous!
Ah, but vous avez raison, Liene! 🙂
Cannot tell you how much I enjoyed reading this! English is now peppered through the French language in a way that I sometimes find bizarre. And amusing.
“Le top du top”
Merci Jennifer. Facebook-moi is a good one, I must say. I think I will start listing my favorite Franglais expressions… You never know what a great post could be born out of it!
Does it irritate the average French person that this is happening Veronique? I would feel a sense of control over my own language if it was me and I suppose even harbour some resentment to English. When we moved to France I had been told that there really wasn’t a word for “computer” so imagine my surprise when I was made aware of “ordinateur”. I don’t remember who set me on the wrong path!
I meant to say that I would feel a sense of lack of control…
Eh bien, cher Craig, I would think the ubiquitous Franglais irritates the older generation more than French teenagers. While i was researching this post, I found several articles online whose authors were BLASTING French people who use Franglais. As for the ordinateur controversy, I am not surprised. For years, the rest of the world thought the French did not have computers or the internet because they used the fah-bu-lous (and innovative) Minitel instead. It was not entirely wrong. It took a while for my countrymen to catch up.
I am always amused by the amount of English that is tossed into conversations by young French people. Great post. Have a great day.
They only do this so American and English visitors feel at home, you know… 🙂 Thank you for visiting, Michel!
So funny. I am a fan of Franglais. I really am. Funny story. I was speaking with a French friend who claims to know very little English. She surprised me with a bit of gossip and I burst out in English, “You’re kidding!” And she replied, “Je ne kid pas!”
Ha! Ha! J’adore your story, je ne kid pas! 🙂
On my last trip to Paris I was impressed by the younger generation’s attempts to speak English. In a lot of cafés the young attendant would ask – You spend a good time here? – that always made me smile ….. Yes definitely I always spend a good time in Paris.
I think conversing is much better now ….. a lot of tourists have learnt a little French and Les Français try to make us feel at home with a peppering of our native language.
That’s right, Dianne. We have all become a big happy family — and everybody wins! 🙂
OMG, ma chère Véro, I almost fell off my fauteuil in laughter. I make such an effort to keep la langue de Molière from entangling with the language of Shakespeare when I speak, but then I hear un français de souche throw in an English word, it is clearly time for me to jeter l’éponge and the towel.
Didn’t the French government make it illegal for the media to use English words? Remember la bataille du “walkman?” Walkman – 1; Balladeur – 0.
Gros bisous, M-T
Bonjour M-T. I do remember la Bataille du Walkman. Les pauvres Immortels lost that one… big time! No wonder they, too, have thrown la serviette! 🙂
I guess English invasion obviously happened and in a most humorous way. Franglais is amusing and inevitable in the world of IT and youth argo. The funny thing it blends and stick almost naturally.
On the other hand French is elegantly sprinkled in English speaking (certain age) socializing: entre nous, c’est la vie, cherchez la femme, matinee, soiree, rendez vous, pourquoi pas, and the overused word cliche etc.
Veronique, it’s time to start a Franglais dictionary with your witty comments it will become a must have for travelers sooner than you think.
Natalie, that is a BRILLIANT idea! As soon as I get 5 minutes to collect my thoughts… I’m on it! 🙂
I must admit, i’m quite a fan of Franglais, Veronique. I took four years of French in high school, but that’s all i know. (And i remember some of it, but not all.) 🙂 Franglais makes me feel like i know more than i do. lol. Of course i know that’s um.. not true. I mean, i also tell myself that the dark chocolate has fewer calories than some desserts.. so..
There is nothing wrong with living an [occasionally] delusional life… I say go for it; and if Franglais helps you communicate with the French better, then it does… Thank you for stopping by!
Another great post, French Girl! I’m sharing this one with my husband’s French teacher. She’ll love it! She is Parisian, but has lived in the US all her adult life. You always entertain and educate. So happy I found you! ~ Sarah
Thank you very much for your visit, Sarah, and as always, for the kind words. Do let me know what your husband’s teacher said, ok? 🙂
Bonsoir Veronique. I agree that Franglais is awful. Just like in the Philippines, we call it Taglish because some Filipinos especially from the Upper classes would combine Tagalog +English together in one sentence. It sounds awful now after living many years in North America… Thank you for the French lessons here. Have a good weekend.
Thank you Pamela. Taglish, eh? Well, I bet I’d have a hard time with that one 🙂
I”m laughing but i know how guilty I am on my blog. You will love this revelation: When in Paris last Jan. I realized that when someone is babbling on with French when they know I don’t speak much, I answer them in a very slow English but with a French “accent”!! I died laughing at myself when I realized what I was doing. Someone said that at least I was speaking slower for them to understand. As you know I’m a huge work in progress. Vive le progress! LOL
I think you are ready to act in a movie… An American speaking English with a French accent: Think about it! You will be a hit, Virginia!
A good article this, thanks. Anglicisms are all over the place here and you have identified the main culprits. Advertisements in the street are full of anglicisms. Drives me mad! The press is also guilty, as you say, as this rather peurile piece from the Nouvelobs demonstrates.
Excellent day to one and all.
And an unfortunate piece it is, Fripouille. Thank you for sharing.– I confess I still enjoy the French Elle (it used to be my Friday morning ritual while I worked in Paris,) but I know that publication is particularly guilty of overdoing the Franglais!
Yesterday, I spent two hours sitting on the benches of the “académiciens” – sous “la Coupole”. (They were not present.) Of course what you tell here was part of the discussion! 🙂
Quelle chance, Peter. If you show up on a Thursday, you might get to see Les Immortels à l’oeuvre…
Im so tired of ‘super cooool’ but it’s not going away anytime soon malheureusement
Super Cool! Trop Top! Supeeeeerrrrrrr!!! 🙂
Just catching up on your posts after a week away escaping the horrible UK weather! I absolutely loved this post, Véronique as le franglais has always fascinated me. I regularly buy French magazines and as each year goes by I am more stunned by the amount of English used. I remember years ago l’Académie Française being up in arms about the overuse of words such as le week-end! (I notice now that some people have dropped the hyphen in weekend too) By the way, your pronunciations at the end really made me smile.
Bienvenue, Miss b. I have heard of the nasty weather you have just experienced. Sounds to me like you should head back to one of your favorite destinations: Dubai. It bet it’s sunny and warm there! I am glad you enjoyed this not so serious post 🙂 A bientôt.
We have just arrived back from Dubai where it was wonderfully warm and sunny weather and we enjoyed eating al fresco every night! It was just one degree C when we arrived back on Sunday and we felt like getting back on the plane!!!!
Now I know Veronique… I have been speaking Franglais all along…:) 🙂 And I just thought my French was poor!!
I loved this post… C’est tres fabulous… xv
There you, Vicki. Now you know! 🙂 Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)
The most difficult part of franglais for native English speakers is knowing how to pronounce it. Do I pronounce it as I would in English or pronounce it as if it were a French word? For example, from what I understand, the I Mac computer is pronounced, “eeee-mac” in French but Iphones and IPods are pronounced like in English (or as close as a Francophone can get). I just learned that Mickey (Mouse) is pronounced Mick-ay. French words I know how to pronounce; Franglais I don’t get sometimes.
Love it, and what an excellent point! I know some French people who will pronounce Franglais words differently depending on the situation: Sometimes, they stress the FRENCH pronunciation; other times, they prefer the ENGLISH pronunciation (or what they assume the English pronunciation should be…) — I agree it is very confusing, and frankly, not that necessary 🙂
This is hilarious and transcribes with so much realism our language prides and struggles. I might be an old-fashion thinker but there is nothing that irritates me more than reading “franglais” words. I think my intolerance even increased since I started to live in the US and that English has become my main language. Far be it from me to completely shield French from the use of any English words, but with moderation and accuracy!!! For instance, I disapprove the recent government’s decision of replacing “hashtag” by “mot-dièse” but I hate reading on French blogs things like “concours inside”! Thanks for sharing!
“Mot-dièse,” hein? Good one. Ma chère Bee, je suis d’accord. Un peu de Franglais, ça va. Beaucoup: Bonjour les dégâts!
Ah, I had to laugh a lot about your post. I’m a German native living in Northern California, and we often speak “Germish” or “Engman”. For the sake of our daughter (and for ourselves as well) we speak German at home, but so many English words creep into and get “Germanized”. And yes, there are so many English words used in Germany, it’s not even funny anymore. While I was in Poland, a German man who teaches Latin in high school told me that all the new and modern words are translated into Latin by the Vatican – and creations like “pillula antibabica” emerge. So if the Vatican can do it, France and Germany should as well! By the way, I really like le Ouigo!
I used to learn French as a child, but le franglais put me off. What is the point of learning a language that is, day by day, becoming anglicized? I gave up. Spanish is much more of a living language. It has more speakers than French and more culture. It has domains where you will never see English borrowings such as bullfighting, dance, etc.
I learn that now. Spanglish exists, but it is nowhere near as out of control as franglais. Spanish also has rules that hispanicizes English borrowings, such as “tuitear”, to tweet. W is not really used in Spanish, so the “ui” is used to make that sound. Also, Spanish is pronounced how it is written, so the spelling of English borrowings MUST be hispanicized.
French has gone beyond borrowings and is now reached the stage of code-switching. I definitely see the French language reaching the point where it’s 50% English.
People say that “No, it’s because French accepts so many English words why it is a living language”. That’s like saying, if I breed the last ever living cat with the last ever living dog, to make a cog, the feline specie lives on. Nope. It’s bastardized and ruined.
If I can fin de semana in Spanish, weekend in English, but “le weekend” in French, guess which language is LACKING?
I’d advise no one to EVER learn French. It’s a waste of time. French people have given up, so why should we bother to learn their dying language?
Well, as the French say, “C’est votre opinion et vous la partagez…” And just so you may understand, voilà the Spanish version (I am assuming you are fluent…) “Es su opinión y compartirla.”
You make a few valid points about the influence of English in the French language. As for the rest of this long message, you just sound very… angry. Did your French girlfriend/boyfriend just leave you? 🙂
A bientôt… or not…
First of all, it is quite cowardly for not daring to mention your name.
It looks more like you are about to have some linguistic diarrhea. On top of that, you for sure never scored high with history.
Don’t you realize how much the French language has influenced English in the course of history? Under King William the Conqueror, French took over as the language of the court, administration, and culture – and stayed there for 300 years. More than a third of all English words are derived directly or indirectly from French, and it’s estimated that English speakers who have never studied French already know 15,000 French words. (Read full story here: http://bit.ly/113h35m).
Over the years, the English language has borrowed a great number of French words and expressions. (http://bit.ly/17c9nCS).
Even words with identical spelling and (sometimes) meaning; French English Cognates:(http://bit.ly/13a64Gg).
So your last sentence where you advice no one to EVER learn French is in fact suggesting that one also has to give up the English language…
Hoping that meanwhile you are feeling much better, with kind regards,
Ha! Ha! Merci Mariette, for this passionate response to our angry little friend. It takes guts to leave such a message on a blog titled “FRENCH GIRL in Seattle,” don’t you think? LOL. You are absolutely correct, of course. I just thought of something: Shouldn’t someone notify all the United Nations personnel that they are speaking a DEAD language (French being the official working language there?) Hmmmm…
It’s good to see this thread reactivated, and I’d like to make a couple of observations if I may.
I’m not sure that the diagnostic of a ‘dead language’ is quite correct although I can understand why people would use that expression. French is not yet dead, but it is ill due to the suicidal willingness of French people to use Anglicisms because they’re trendy and the increasingly poor level of French being spoken by the French. These two phenomenon are the linguistic equivalent of cigarette and alcohol abuse. The cure? Stop doing both.
Another problem in that context is the paradoxal attitude which sees the French raging about the infiltration of English into official bodies like the EU as well as the international use of English in the business, scientific, research and other fields. This is why university lessons in many subjects are now dispensed in English. The recent government decision to make this an official policy has ‘defenders’ of French up in arms.
But they are wrong. The difference between France and other European countries is that France refuses to accept the inevitability of English as the international language of our time whereas all the others do. After all, you never hear about Germans bemoaning this state of affairs. No, they just accept it, learn English, and sell products abroad.
Then again, the Germans are a pragmatic people, that which cannot be said of the French. But that’s another story….
A good day to one and all!
Hi, I was the angry poster above. I’ve been reflecting lately.
Initially, and for years, I was angry at the rise in Franglais because I wasted time learning a language that is becoming English. For instance, I learned “le defi” but now “le challenge” is the new French word for “challenge”.
But I’ve changed my thinking since then. I actually welcome franglais now. I see Franglais is “ironic justice” for the Norman invasion of England in 1066. This forever ruined the English language, taking it away from its German, Norse, and Dutch cousins. It causes the English/Germanic “swine” to become overshadowed in favour of the Latin/French “pork”. It caused English to simplify, lose its inflections and verb tenses, it possibly caused the Great Vowel Shift, causing English’s spelling and pronounciation to differ. Before the GVS, “light” would have been pronounced “leeeCHt”, with the CH as in Scottish “Loch” or as in German.
I am much more in favour of English getting rid of its Latin/French words than in French stemming the flow of English. I now watch with glee when I see French websites use Franglais.
Lessons being taught in English in France is just a sign of things to come. French is on its way out. That’s no longer a concern of mine. I just would like English to be restored.