Friday, 9 November 2012

New franglais

The French have pretty much gave up defending their language from the influx of English. It amused me to learn in the early 1990s that the Minister of Culture Jacques Toubon, in his failed attempts to stop anglicisms, became known to some as Jacques Allgood.

Even so, I continue to enjoy the range of neologisms, many of which spring up in the fields of new technology and entertainment. Some are French adaptations of English terms, such as réseauter (to network), most just English terms used because they are fashionable in some circles.

I often find the latter in a blog I look at from entitled Têtes de Séries by Pierre Langlais (yes, Langlais). Pierre writes about all the latest news of TV series, especially American and British.

In recent blogs I have found pour le fun, difficile d'en parler sans spoiler, les deux épisodes suivants étaient meilleurs que le trailer, Yahoo lance... une webséries (avec un s), les champions du buzz, le post  (continues to be used despite the new term included in Le Petit Robert billet de blog), son dernier best-of de l'été, un mois de playlist, quel crossover elle voudraient faire, les cinq grands networks, se faire previewer (Pierre admits he has just made that one up).

Then I come across avant que les upfronts ne soient trop dans le rétro (not sure what that one means), on se contentera d'un pitch, des tables rondes et des masterclasses. Le brainstorming and le geek  may not be that new, but quatre acteurs has-been looks more original. Words like remake and casting are not at all new, but I confess I hadn't seen cast before. I should read more.

How about cinq prime-times par semaine? And what about comic instead of BD?

Now, Mr Langlais is not using the language of the French person in the street, but to savvy English-speaking DVD watchers, these neologisms make sense and identify them with a culture they enjoy. Some may catch on.

The latest edition of Le Petit Robert I mentioned above includes these anglicisms:

Le notebook
Le netbook
Le biopic
And lastly, David Cameron's favourite, LOL.


  1. So the French have succumbed to Anglicism, too!
    That should make my next stay there a bit easier, I hope ;-)
    As a German teacher and translator I notice the same in German and I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand it makes my life a lot easier when translating a book or when students ask about the translation of a new word (especially internet related). On the other hand it does make me very sad to see some beautiful, perfectly good German words disappear for the sake of the 'cool' English word.

  2. "Billet de blog"... I mean, really? They really expect us to use this dainty, square expression? I've been using "entrée" personally, because I can't bring myself to use "un post" like everyone else. How are you supposed to pronounce it even? "ehn powst" rhyming with "un toast" I suppose, but for Canadians this is too strange. We would pronounce it "uhrn pawst" and then we don't know if we're talking of a blog post, a tv or radio channel or a job.
    Here in Canada we have been fighting franglais for a long time and have therefore come up with 100% French words to describe the new technological (and often American) reality.
    Courriel = email, clavardage = online chat, etc. but we still do use English far too much. Here we may combat the vocabulary, but English seeps in the syntax, which is more pernicious.
    Great article, as always!