Everyone speaks Franglais.

Have I mentioned lately how annoying English words are in French? Just over the past few days, I’ve heard people speaking French say speed, soft, borderline, bad trip, VIP, people, and flashy when they could have just used French words in their sentences. And of course they pronounce these words with French accents, which is logical linguistically, but that makes understanding them almost impossible for an Anglophone. And it seems that these words are sometimes used in ways that we wouldn’t even use them in English.

I have nothing against borrowing words from other languages, but I never realized before how many English words are actually used in everyday French. Maybe some French people can shed some light on this, but is it considered cool to use English words all the time? I find it very annoying because I wonder why I was never taught these words in my French classes. And French people who don’t speak English really don’t understand why I can’t understand their use (ok, their pronunciation…) of English words. But what irritates me the most is that my students think they can use these words in the same way – grammatically or semantically – in English, but it just doesn’t work.

Even though I get what you mean by Last week was less speed than this week, it’s not a good sentence. My students get so frustrated when they discover that they don’t actually know how to use these English words that they thought they knew how to use all this time. Or when they discover that the definition of the word in English is something completely different than what they thought, i.e. they hear a string in English and automatically think of thong underwear, which is un string in French. Definitely not the same as une ficelle.

Words like pom-pom girl (cheerleader), relooking (makeover), zapping (channel surfing), hard discount (discount [store]), and bermuda (bermuda shorts) are easy enough for Anglophones to figure out. Even catch (pro/fake wrestling) makes sense if you think about it. But I really do wonder how in the world smoking got borrowed into French to mean a tuxedo. Who decided that and why?

Un smoking is a tuxedo

He is wearing a smoking!

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  • ksam

    “relooking” is in fact my favorite word, mostly because it doesn’t even exist in english!! they made up their own english-sounding word – c’est dingue !! you gotta love it. ;)

  • ksam

    “relooking” is in fact my favorite word, mostly because it doesn’t even exist in english!! they made up their own english-sounding word – c’est dingue !! you gotta love it. ;)

  • http://www.thisfrenchlife.com/ Craig McGinty

    I have a feeling that ‘smoking’ for a tuxedo will have it’s roots in ‘smoking jacket’ which isn’t really a tuxedo, or what we Brits would call a dinner jacket.

    As for where it could have come from I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t British black and white cinema of yesteryear!

  • http://www.thisfrenchlife.com/ Craig McGinty

    I have a feeling that ‘smoking’ for a tuxedo will have it’s roots in ‘smoking jacket’ which isn’t really a tuxedo, or what we Brits would call a dinner jacket.

    As for where it could have come from I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t British black and white cinema of yesteryear!

  • http://frenchtoastpainperdu.blogspot.com/ Gem

    On the other hand, I remember having to explain to a couple of my French students that, even though the word existed in English, “douche” did NOT mean the same thing as in French! I don’t know, I don’t have a problem with English words being incorporated into French. I just think of all of the French words in English… connoisseur, au naturel, ambulance… that don’t mean/sound the same.

    As for my favorite “franglais” moment… I had a student tell me he’d spent most of the weekend in his “relax.” His what?? It turns out he meant what I would have described as a “chaise longue”!

  • http://frenchtoastpainperdu.blogspot.com Gem

    On the other hand, I remember having to explain to a couple of my French students that, even though the word existed in English, “douche” did NOT mean the same thing as in French! I don’t know, I don’t have a problem with English words being incorporated into French. I just think of all of the French words in English… connoisseur, au naturel, ambulance… that don’t mean/sound the same.

    As for my favorite “franglais” moment… I had a student tell me he’d spent most of the weekend in his “relax.” His what?? It turns out he meant what I would have described as a “chaise longue”!

  • http://www.correresmidestino.com/ Zhu

    And how about the “camping car”? :lol:

    I agree with you, most of the words are misused and really not necessary since French has other words for it.

    On the other side, I hate the way Quebecers translate every single English expression. I’m sorry but I don’t eat “chien chauds”, but hot dogs, and I don’t like “maïs soufllé” either (pop corn). At least, come up with more than just a translation!

    Zhus last blog post..The Upward Dog

  • http://www.correresmidestino.com Zhu

    And how about the “camping car”? :lol:

    I agree with you, most of the words are misused and really not necessary since French has other words for it.

    On the other side, I hate the way Quebecers translate every single English expression. I’m sorry but I don’t eat “chien chauds”, but hot dogs, and I don’t like “maïs soufllé” either (pop corn). At least, come up with more than just a translation!

    Zhus last blog post..The Upward Dog

  • http://karenuccia.blogspot.com/ KC

    The same thing happens in Italian, with some of the same words, like smoking and zapping. Then there are the invented words like footing (jogging) and plumcake (some sort of little cake with raisins and no plums.) People always laugh at me when I don’t figure out right away what they mean!

    KCs last blog post..1000 things

  • http://karenuccia.blogspot.com KC

    The same thing happens in Italian, with some of the same words, like smoking and zapping. Then there are the invented words like footing (jogging) and plumcake (some sort of little cake with raisins and no plums.) People always laugh at me when I don’t figure out right away what they mean!

    KCs last blog post..1000 things

  • http://life-with-a-seaview.blogspot.com/ astrid

    For me it’s ‘Ze pipol’ or ‘the people’ expression getting on my nerves. The new hip word for celebrities…

    astrids last blog post..What would you do if…

  • http://life-with-a-seaview.blogspot.com astrid

    For me it’s ‘Ze pipol’ or ‘the people’ expression getting on my nerves. The new hip word for celebrities…

    astrids last blog post..What would you do if…

  • http://www.crystalgoestoeurope.blogspot.com/ Crystal

    ugh I agree with you…coming from canada where I learned “proper” french from Quebec teachers, I was super surprised and a little disappointed to hear all these english words being used in France. Max has explained to me that it IS considered kind of cool to use english words/expressions in France, but they just end up looking a bit stupid when they use these supposed “cool” words incorrectly (ie. “cette semaine est trop speed, quoi”…as most of my students say). Although we use a lot of french words in english too, I think for the most part, that we use them correctly…case in point: “I have a rendez-vous” is exactly the same as “I have an appointment”…

    gotta say one of those franglicisms that makes my skin crawl is “le parking” or “un brushing”…*gag*

    Crystals last blog post..should I iron the rolls of fat out of him?

  • http://www.crystalgoestoeurope.blogspot.com Crystal

    ugh I agree with you…coming from canada where I learned “proper” french from Quebec teachers, I was super surprised and a little disappointed to hear all these english words being used in France. Max has explained to me that it IS considered kind of cool to use english words/expressions in France, but they just end up looking a bit stupid when they use these supposed “cool” words incorrectly (ie. “cette semaine est trop speed, quoi”…as most of my students say). Although we use a lot of french words in english too, I think for the most part, that we use them correctly…case in point: “I have a rendez-vous” is exactly the same as “I have an appointment”…

    gotta say one of those franglicisms that makes my skin crawl is “le parking” or “un brushing”…*gag*

    Crystals last blog post..should I iron the rolls of fat out of him?

  • http://hiddeninfrance.typepad.com/hidden_in_france/ corine

    I lived half my life in france, and the second half in the united states. When i speak in French now I know none of the words that have been invented in the last 20 years, mainly words that refer to technology. My sentences are like patchwork.

    corines last blog post..Political interlude

  • http://hiddeninfrance.typepad.com/hidden_in_france/ corine

    I lived half my life in france, and the second half in the united states. When i speak in French now I know none of the words that have been invented in the last 20 years, mainly words that refer to technology. My sentences are like patchwork.

    corines last blog post..Political interlude

  • Cassie

    I know this is a bit irrelevant to the topic but…

    I’m looking into Annecy and Chambéry for a Study Abroad program with l’institut francais de alpes.

    And I was wondering if you have ever been to Chambéry? I’m kind of looking for a comparison of the two cities to see what would be better for me.

    If not then I would still greatly appreciate any advice you’re willing to give on Annecy! Or even the IFALPES program, if you know of it. :]

    Thanks.

  • Cassie

    I know this is a bit irrelevant to the topic but…

    I’m looking into Annecy and Chambéry for a Study Abroad program with l’institut francais de alpes.

    And I was wondering if you have ever been to Chambéry? I’m kind of looking for a comparison of the two cities to see what would be better for me.

    If not then I would still greatly appreciate any advice you’re willing to give on Annecy! Or even the IFALPES program, if you know of it. :]

    Thanks.

  • http://blondeinfrance.blogspot.com/ Andromeda

    It really is the misuse of the word rather than the words themselves that bugs me I think. “Shampooing” is my least favorite word right now, pronounced so silly and wouldn’t it just be easier to use the actual noun shampoo?? Who decides these new words? 4e students who only came to half their English classes?

    Andromedas last blog post..Vacation

  • http://blondeinfrance.blogspot.com Andromeda

    It really is the misuse of the word rather than the words themselves that bugs me I think. “Shampooing” is my least favorite word right now, pronounced so silly and wouldn’t it just be easier to use the actual noun shampoo?? Who decides these new words? 4e students who only came to half their English classes?

    Andromedas last blog post..Vacation

  • http://toutesdirectionspourlafrance.blogspot.com/ L

    Haha, B is always laughing at me for getting more upset about French people improperly using English then the French. When I hear it on TV, I’m always “Where’s the CSA! This is terrible, they should be fined!”

    As for students being confused, I have a poor kid in 3eme who thinks “look” in a sentence means “style” since that’s how it’s used in French. He’ll read a sentence with “look” used as a verb, and find some way to twist it into a sentence about fashion…

    Ls last blog post..Madison???

  • http://toutesdirectionspourlafrance.blogspot.com L

    Haha, B is always laughing at me for getting more upset about French people improperly using English then the French. When I hear it on TV, I’m always “Where’s the CSA! This is terrible, they should be fined!”

    As for students being confused, I have a poor kid in 3eme who thinks “look” in a sentence means “style” since that’s how it’s used in French. He’ll read a sentence with “look” used as a verb, and find some way to twist it into a sentence about fashion…

    Ls last blog post..Madison???

  • http://noemagosa.wordpress.com/ Noelia

    I was talking on Skype with a French friend this week end who commented that “maintenant y’a plein de vols discount entre Toulouse et Londres”. I couldn’t stop laughing at the way she said discount with the French pronunciation (discoont), it’s not as if there is no French word to say the same! (prix pas chers, en rabais, aubaine…)

    Noelias last blog post..Oukilémignon

  • http://noemagosa.wordpress.com Noelia

    I was talking on Skype with a French friend this week end who commented that “maintenant y’a plein de vols discount entre Toulouse et Londres”. I couldn’t stop laughing at the way she said discount with the French pronunciation (discoont), it’s not as if there is no French word to say the same! (prix pas chers, en rabais, aubaine…)

    Noelias last blog post..Oukilémignon

  • http://from-the-corner-of-my-eye.blogspot.com/ bek

    It’s the same with German. There are so many words taken from English, which isn’t always necessary. I understand it when it’s done with new technology words, but not words, that have existed before in German.

    beks last blog post..This Must Be the Place

  • http://from-the-corner-of-my-eye.blogspot.com bek

    It’s the same with German. There are so many words taken from English, which isn’t always necessary. I understand it when it’s done with new technology words, but not words, that have existed before in German.

    beks last blog post..This Must Be the Place

  • Sent2coventry2003

    Except “zapping” is English, not “Franglais”. “To zap” means to change channels repeatedly, or as Americans call it “channel surfing”. A “zapper” is slang for a remote control.

Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at a university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling and being an American abroad.

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