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Title: Franglais  
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Subject: Chinglish, Engrish, Denglisch, Languages of Canada, Heblish
Collection: English as a Second or Foreign Language, Forms of English, French Language, Languages of Canada, MacAronic Language
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Franglais (French pronunciation: ​; also Frenglish ) is a French portmanteau referring to the mix of French (français) and English (anglais).[1]


  • English sense 1
    • In English humour 1.1
  • French sense 2
  • France 3
  • Canada 4
    • Quebec 4.1
    • Rest of Canada 4.2
    • Incorrect and unstable usages 4.3
    • False anglicisms 4.4
  • Cameroon 5
  • Elsewhere in the world 6
  • Franglais songs 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

English sense

A typical shopping centre in La Rochelle, in western France presents many examples of the English language

In English, Franglais means a mangled combination of English and French, produced either by poor knowledge of one or the other language, native bilingualism or for humorous effect. Franglais usually consists of either filling in gaps in one's knowledge of French with English words, using false friends with their incorrect meaning or speaking French in such a manner that (although ostensibly "French") would be incomprehensible to a French-speaker who does not also have a knowledge of English (for example, by using a literal translation of English idiomatic phrases).

Some examples of Franglais are:

  • Longtemps, pas voir. – Long time, no see.
  • Je vais driver downtown. – I'm going to drive downtown. (Je vais aller en voiture au centre-ville)
  • Je suis tired. – I am tired. (Je suis fatigué)
  • Je ne care pas. – I don't care. (Ça m'est égal OR Je m'en fous)
  • J'agree. – I agree. (D'accord)
  • M'en va tanker mon char. (Québec) – I'll go fill up my car. (Je vais faire le plein)

Franglais may also mean a diplomatic compromise such as the abbreviation UTC for Co-ordinated Universal Time.

In English humour

Chaucer's Prioress knew nothing of the French of Paris, but only that of Stratford-atte-Bow ('Cockney French'). Similar mixtures occur in the later stages of Law French, such as the famous defendant who "ject un brickbat a le dit Justice, que narrowly mist". Another example in English literature is found in Henry V by William Shakespeare. A French princess is trying to learn English, but unfortunately, "foot" as pronounced by her maid sounds too much like foutre (vulgar French, "semen" or "to have sexual intercourse" when used as a verb) and "gown" like con (French "cunt", also used to mean "idiot"). She decides English is too obscene a language. A literary example of the delight in mélange occurs in Robert Surtees' Jorrocks' Jaunts and Jollities:

"You shall manger cinq fois every day," said she; "cinq fois," she repeated.—"Humph!" said Mr. Jorrocks to himself, "what can that mean?—cank four—four times five's twenty—eat twenty times a day—not possible!" "Oui, Monsieur, cinq fois," repeated the Countess, telling the number off on her fingers—"Café at nine of the matin, déjeuner à la fourchette at onze o'clock, dîner at cinq heure, café at six hour, and souper at neuf hour."
The 19th-century American writer Mark Twain, in Innocents Abroad, included the following letter to a Parisian landlord:[2]

According to Chapman Pincher, one of Winston Churchill's family recounted how the latter, in response to obstinacy from General de Gaulle in a meeting during de Gaulle's wartime exile in London, told him, "Si vous m’opposerez je vous get riderai!"[3]

The humourist Miles Kington wrote a regular column Parlez vous Franglais which, for a number of years starting in the late 1970s, appeared in the magazine Punch. These columns were collected into a series of books: Let's Parler Franglais, Let's Parler Franglais Again!, Parlez-vous Franglais?, Let's Parler Franglais One More Temps, The Franglais Lieutenant's Woman and Other Literary Masterpieces.

A somewhat different tack was taken in Luis van Rooten's Mots D'Heures: Gousses, Rames: The D'Antin Manuscript.[4] Here, English nursery rhymes are written with nonsensical French phrases meant to recall the sounds of the English words, and the resulting French texts are presented as a historical manuscript and given a pseudo-learned commentary.

Another classic is Jean Loup Chiflet's Sky My Husband! Ciel Mon Mari! which is a literal translation of French into English. However, in this context, the correct translation of Ciel! is Heavens!.

In Monty Python's 1975 movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the French castle guard (John Cleese) orders, when King Arthur (Graham Chapman) doesn't want to go away, his fellow guards to "fetchez la vache". The other French guards respond with "Quoi?" and he repeats "Fetchez la vache!". The guards finally get it, fetch "la vache" (i.e. a cow) and hurl it towards the unsuspecting Britons.[5]

French sense

In French, franglais refers to the use of English words sometimes regarded as unwelcome imports or as bad slang. An example would be le week-end (also weekend). Though it is often used in many French dialects, the Québécois would use la fin de semaine (literally: the end of the week) instead (while fin de semaine in France refers to the end of the work week, i.e. Thursday and Friday). Franglais also refers to nouns created from Anglo-Saxon roots, often by adding "-ing" at the end of a popular word—e.g., un parking (a car park or parking lot; un stationnement in Quebec French, which means "parking" [the action or the state of being parked] in European French), un camping (a campsite), or shampooing (shampoo, but pronounced , not */ʃɑ̃pu.iŋ/). A few words that have entered use in French are derived from English roots but are not found at all in English, such as un relooking (a makeover) and un rugbyman (a rugby player). Others are based either on mistaken ideas of English words (e.g. footing meaning jogging, not a pediment, and tramway meaning tram, not a tramway, and bitch which is widely believed by French speakers to mean a prostitute), grammar (e.g. un pin's (with the apostrophe in both singular and plural) meaning a collectable lapel pin) or word order (e.g. talkie-walkie meaning a walkie-talkie, a hand-held two-way radio). For those who do not speak English, such words may be believed to exist in English. (Note however that in Quebec, where both English and French are spoken, expressions such as footing and relooking are not used.)

In English publications, a misspelling of piedfort' as piefort has crept back into the French language as piéfort.[6][7]

Owing to the worldwide popularity of the internet, relatively new English words have been introduced into French (e.g. e-mail and mail, referring to either e-mail or an e-mail address). An equivalent for the word "e-mail" derived from French roots was created in Quebec French and promoted by Quebec government: courriel (from courrier électronique), and this term is now widely used. The Académie française has also suggested the use of the abbreviation mél. (from message électronique) as an analogy with the abbreviation tél. for telephone, to be uniquely used in front of an e-mail address;[8] however the term is now used more broadly in France. Another example from French is the word look. The verb "to look" in French is regarder but the noun "a look" (i.e. the way that something looks) is look, so the sentence "This Pepsi can has a new look" in French would be "Cette cannette de Pepsi a un nouveau look".


Map of the English Channel, a natural barrier between French and English speaking communities

After World War II, a backlash began in France over the increasing use of English there. "Corruption of the national language" was perceived by some to be tantamount to an attack on the identity of the country itself. During this period, ever greater imports of American products led to the increasingly widespread use of some English phrases in French. Measures taken to slow this trend included government censorship of comic strips and financial support for the French film and French-language dubbing industries. Despite public policies against the spread of English, the use of "Franglais" is increasing in both written and oral expression.

In recent years, English expressions are increasingly present in French mass media:

  • TV reality shows generally use English titles such as Loft Story, Star Academy, Popstars, and Secret Story.
  • A leading national newspaper, Le Monde, publishes a weekly article selection of The New York Times entirely in English and uses anglicisms such as "newsletter", "chat", and "e-mail" instead of French substitutions (bavardage/clavardage for "chat" or courriel for "e-mail").
    • Note that saying bavardage to a French person instead of Internet "chat" may cause confusion to them, since bavardage refers in France to real-life conversation and is rarely used in an Internet context. The word clavardage (a portmanteau of clavier (keyboard) and bavarder (chat)) is hardly known outside of Canada. The word chat in writing can be confusing as well since it means "cat" in French, thus the unique respelling "tchat" is occasionally seen.
  • In James Huth's blockbuster movie Brice de Nice (to be pronounced as if it were in English), Franglais is used in a satirical way to make fun of teens and other trendy people who use English words to sound cool.

Most telecommunication and Internet service providers use English and Franglais expressions in their product names and advertising campaigns. The leading operator, France Télécom, has dropped the accents in its corporate logo. In recent years, it has changed its product names with trendier expressions such as Business Talk, Live-Zoom, Family Talk. France Télécom's mobile telecommunications subsidiary Orange runs a franchise retail network called mobistores. Its Internet subsidiary, formerly known as Wanadoo (inspired by the American slang expression "wanna do") provides a popular triple play service through its Livebox. The second-largest Internet service provider in France is Free, which offers its freebox. Set-top boxes that are offered by many other providers are also following this trend (e.g. neuf-box, alice-box, livebox...) and the word "box" by itself is gradually ending up referring to these set-top boxes.

SNCF, the state-owned railway company, has recently introduced a customer fidelity program called S'Miles. Meanwhile, Air France has renamed its Fréquence Plus frequent flyer program Flying Blue. The Paris Transportation Authority (RATP) has also recently introduced a contactless smartcard ticketing system, similar to the Oyster card in London, called NaviGO.

Public authorities such as the Académie française and the Conseil supérieur de la langue française generally propose alternative words for anglicisms. The acceptance of such words varies considerably; for example, ordinateur and logiciel existed before the English words "computer" and "software" reached France, so they are accepted (even outside of France in the case of ordinateur). On the other hand, vacancelle failed to replace weekend or fin de semaine (the latter being in current usage in Canada). The word courriel, equivalent of "e-mail", created and used in French-speaking Canada is increasingly coming into use in written European French. However, most French Internet users generally speak about mail without the prefix "e-". Note that English words are often shorter, and they are usually coined first (the French alternatives are generally thought of only after the original word has already been coined, and are then debated at length before coming into use). This is partly why they tend to stay in use.

Alternative words proposed by the Académie française are sometimes poorly received by an aware (often technical) audience and unclear to a non-technical audience. The proposed terms may be ambiguous (often because they are artificially created based on phonetics, thus hiding their etymology) which results in nonsense (e.g. cédéroms réinscriptibles for CD-RW (literally "rewritable CD-ROMs", despite "ROM" meaning "read-only memory"). Some words are considered uncool (for example, adding the initial T to chat to form tchat (in accordance with French phonetics) or rendering DVD as dévédé (reproducing the French pronunciation of the letters D, V & D).

The use of English expressions is very common in the youth language, which combines them with verlan. The letter J is thus sometimes humouristically pronounced the English way in words such as jeunes (youth), rendered as djuns and thus written djeun's, to refer to this trend.



Map highlighting Quebec within Canada

Quebec is the only French monolingual province of Canada (and the only officially monolingual province, although New Brunswick is officially bilingual, and the others while predominantly English-speaking, are not officially English-only).

Franglais should not be confused with Quebec French, which has a number of longstanding borrowings from English as the result of the historical coexistence of two linguistic communities, largely within Quebec (and especially around Montreal). Likewise, Quebec English, the language spoken by the anglophone minority there, has borrowed many French words such as dépanneur (convenience store), autoroute (highway), stage (internship), metro (subway), circular (flyer, from the word circulaire, a pamphlet that circulates as opposed to being round) and many others (see Quebec English). These are permanent and longstanding features of local usage rather than the incorrect speech improvised by any given individual user with poor knowledge of the other language.

These expressions have mainly become part of a common tongue born out of mutual concession to one another. In fact, the substantial bilingual community in and around Montreal will occasionally refer to Franglais, usually after it is pointed out that someone has used a variety of French and English words, expressions or propositions in a 'correct' fashion in the same sentence, a surprisingly common occurrence.

Rest of Canada

Franglais can refer to the long-standing and stable mixes of English and French spoken in some towns, cities, and rural areas of other Canadian provinces; New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Manitoba, and Newfoundland. It is even used in the northern regions of Maine (U.S.A.) (see Chiac and Acadian French). This mix uses approximately equal proportions of each language (except in Newfoundland), although it is more likely to be understood by a francophone, since it usually uses English words in French pronunciation and grammar.

Franglais is commonly spoken in French immersion schools in Ontario and Alberta as well as in DSFM schools (Division scolaire Franco-Manitobaine) in Manitoba, where most students speak either French or English as their first or preferred language, yet know school-related terms in French (e.g. "Let's go to la bibliothèque.", instead of "Let's go to the library."). As many French immersion classes and French schools have a strict "French only" policy, such Franglais is used discreetly between students, or out of class.

Incorrect and unstable usages

Franglais, in the sense of incorrect usage by second language speakers, occurs across Canada. An example of an anglicism turned Franglais is the unintentional translation of English phrases into French by students unaware of the Canadian French term. For example, a hot dog is sometimes called un chien chaud when in fact the French term is simply un hot dog. (This is in spite of the Quebec government's suggestion of using expressions such as chien chaud for "hot dog" and hambourgeois for "hamburger", neither of which has gained widespread acceptance.) In some ways, confusion over which expression is more correct and the emphasis many immersion schools place on eliminating anglicisms from students' vocabulary has promoted the use of Franglais. Franglais can also slowly creep into use from mispronunciation and misspelling by many bilingual Canadians. Common mistakes that immersion or bilingual students propagate include incorrect inflection and stresses on syllables, incorrect doubling of consonants, strange vowel combinations in their spelling and using combinations of prefixes and suffixes from English.

Recently, Canadian youth culture (especially in British Columbia and southeastern Ontario) purposely uses Franglais for its comical or euphemistic characteristics (for example, in replacing English swear words with French ones). Some anglophone Canadians euphemistically use the Québécois sacres (religious words such as sacrament as expletives) rather than swearing in English.

False anglicisms

There is a particular form of franglish which consists in the adoption of English words, but those that do not exist in Shakespeare's iteration of the language.

These are words like forcing (in doing so forcing, that is to say, scramble, press movement, spare no effort) or as 'bronzing' (tan, tan (fam.), sunbathing), made by adding the English ending -ing a French verb (respectively "force" and "tan" in the examples taken). These are truly false.

Another type of false anglicism comes from the abbreviation of an English name made keeping only the word on the left (while the important word for English speakers is the right word, impossible to remove). For example, to designate a dress suit, the word smoking is used by the French (but also in many other languages). Yet the British use "dinner jacket" and Americans "tuxedo" or the abbreviation "tux" because smoking does not exist in English other than as a form of the verb "to smoke" (smoking) is that Franglais smoking is actually short, clean in French, English tuxedo jacket. Also citable are the following abbreviations: a clap (for "clapboard" or "clapstick" slate of shooting, clapper, clapper), the dreads (for dreadlocks, cadenettes of rasta), etc.

They are either French constructions mimicking the English rules, or shifts of meaning affecting borrowed terms.


Cameroon has substantial English- and French-speaking populations as a legacy of its colonial past as British Southern Cameroons and French Cameroun. Despite linguistically segregated education since independence, many younger Cameroonians in urban centres have formed a version of Franglais/Franglish from English, French and Cameroonian Pidgin English known as Camfranglais or Frananglais. Many educational authorities disapprove of Frananglais in Cameroon and have banned it in their schools. Nevertheless, the language has gained in popularity and has a growing music scene.[9]

Elsewhere in the world

Franglais is also spoken in London due to the number of French people living there.

Franglais also occurs in other communities where imperfect English-French bilingualism is common. The United Nations Office at Geneva is so named in an imitation of the French à Genève, rather than the expected "in Geneva".

Another example is provided by the civil servants in European Union institutions (European Parliament, European Commission, European Court of Justice), based in bilingual (French and Flemish resp. Luxembourgish/German) Brussels and Luxembourg City. They often work in English, but are surrounded by a French-speaking environment, which influences their English (e.g. "I'm a stagiaire at the Commission and I'm looking for another stage in a consultancy").

Franglais songs

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Twain, Mark. The Innocents Abroad. 1869. (at Project Gutenberg)
  3. ^
  4. ^ 1967, USA, Viking Adult, ISBN 0-670-49064-4, hardcover, 40 pp.
  5. ^ The French Castle scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
  6. ^ Vème République, 50 Francs Hercule, Piéfort
  7. ^ Piéfort - Piedfort - Pieds-Forts - Essais
  8. ^
  9. ^ BBC NEWS | World | Africa | New language for divided Cameroon

External links

  • La petite lesson en Franglais
  • Au revoir Mister Franglais BBC reporting on the death of Miles Kington
  • Le Grande Thanksgiving by Art Buchwald
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