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!

Colin Powell’s Words of Wisdom

From the only Republican I like, Colin Powell, on Meet the Press, October 19, 2008: …I watched Mr. Obama and I watched him during this seven-week period.  And he displayed a steadiness, an intellectual curiosity, a depth of knowledge and an approach to looking at problems like this and picking a vice president that, I […]

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Apéro and Universités

Friday night at an apéro chez des amis, we somehow got on the subject of universities. David mentioned that his mom’s cousin teaches French in Boston, and at the end of each semester, she had to let her students fill out evaluation forms. Everyone but me was surprised and thought it was a bad idea. […]

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Ship or Sheep or Disgust?

I’m preparing the audio files for our Phonetics labs at home, and I’ve been listening to the units in our book, Ship or Sheep?, written by two Brits about 25 years ago. I got to Unit 4 on the [æ] vowel sound and noticed the dialogue they had written using as many words as possible […]

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Pour mes amis canadiens et canadiennes:

Meilleurs vœux pour le jour de l’Action de Grâce! Happy Thanksgiving! P.S. I’m jealous your election is tomorrow instead of 3 weeks away! I ♥ Canada.

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The Story of the Missing Ballot

Once upon a time, there was a young girl who had grown disillusioned with her country. It was too religious, too conservative, too intolerant. I’ll move to France, she thought, and maybe one day my country will get better so I will be less ashamed of it. So off to France she went, and there […]

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Le Retour des Alpages 2008

I just returned from the Retour des Alpages festival today in Annecy. I managed to take more pictures than last year, though I didn’t see much of the parade from where I was standing. Once again, I was constantly reminded why I hate being in Annecy when it is really crowded. Usually it’s the little […]

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I love technology, but I love it more when it actually works.

This week was the start of our language labs at the university (i.e. 9 out of 12 of my classes). They only run for 10 weeks, so we don’t start them when regular classes start. Unfortunately, our brand new computerized language lab is not working properly, so we can barely use it. Instead, we’re running […]

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The Past, Poverty & Perspective

Thanks to David’s dad and his generous gift of Chèque Lire, I got yet another French as a Foreign Language book at Decitre today, in an attempt to improve my faltering French since I can’t afford actual classes. The first chapter was about traveling, and more specifically, Quebec. The second chapter was about rencontres and […]

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The Not-So-United States of America

So the presidential elections (only one more month to go!!!) and having to explain the Electoral College and how voting works in the US to the French have stirred up some emotions about why I don’t like living there. The United States of America is just that – a collection of states, but states that […]

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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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