Skip to main content

How to translate common fish into French

Ever get confused at the fish counter or in the restaurant in France or other French-speaking places? I still do, despite writing this list some time ago. It seemed to have disappeared from my blog, so I am publishing it again. Apologies for any obvious omissions. It is worth noting that soem fish names vary according to region, so it's easy to find unfamiliar names. I have not included seafood in my list.

Do comment if there are any obvious ones I may have missed.

Fish markets and fish counters in supermarkets are so much more interesting than British ones, aren't they? But I wonder why the French eat so little haddock ("églefin/aiglefin") when it is good and so plentiful? On the other hand whiting is common in France and deserves to be more so in the UK. The French eat a lot more ling/sea burbot ("julienne") than we do, but I do find that a bit short on flavour. They also consume quite a bit of dried salted cod ("morue").

Anglais                      Français

anchovy                    anchois (m)
basa (river cobbler)   pangas (m)
bream                       brème (f)
carp                          carpe (f)
catfish                       barbote (f) mâchoiron (m)
chub                         spirlin (m)
cod                          cabillaud (m), morue (dried and salted) (f)
coley/ pollock            lieu (m)/ colin (m)
dab (flounder)           limande (f)  - limande is also a slang word for flat-chested!
eel                            anguille (f)
grayling                     poisson ombre (m)
grey mullet                mulet (m)
gurnard                     grondin (m)
haddock                   églefin/aiglefin (m)
hake                         merlu (m)
halibut                       flétan (m)
herring                      hareng (m)
ling, sea burbot         julienne (f)
ling                           lingue (f)
mackerel                   maquereau (m)
monkfish                   lotte (f)
perch                        perche (f)
pike                          brochet (m)
pilchard                     pilchard (m)
red mullet                  rouget (m)
red sea bream           pageot (m)
salmon                      saumon (m)
sardine                      sardine (f)
sea bass                    bar (m)
sea bream                 daurade (f) sar (m)
shark                        requin (m)
skate                        raie (f)
smoked haddock      haddock (m)
snapper                    vivaneau (m)
sole                          sole (f)
sturgeon                   esturgeon (m)
swordfish                  espadon (m)
trout                         truite (f)
tuna                         thon (m)
turbot                       turbot (m)
whitebait                  petite friture (f)
whiting                     merlan (m)


  1. Thank you for posting ,I will try to get Le Clerc in my local town to keep a copy of this list!

  2. Hi. Thanks for commentig. Glad this was useful to you!

  3. Thanks for the list it will make my life a little easier this summer. Any ideas about lieu noir and lieu jaune

  4. I think lieu noir is coalfish, lieu jaune is pollock.

  5. I think lieu noir is coalfish, lieu jaune is pollock


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The latest research on teaching vocabulary

I've been dipping into The Routledge Handbook of Instructed Second Language Acquisition (2017) edited by Loewen and Sato. This blog is a succinct summary of Chapter 16 by Beatriz González-Fernández and Norbert Schmitt on the topic of teaching vocabulary. I hope you find it useful.

1.  Background

The authors begin by outlining the clear importance of vocabulary knowledge in language acquisition, stating that it's a key predictor of overall language proficiency (e.g. Alderson, 2007). Students often say that their lack of vocabulary is the main reason for their difficulty understanding and using the language (e.g. Nation, 2012). Historically vocabulary has been neglected when compared to grammar, notably in the grammar-translation and audio-lingual traditions as well as  communicative language teaching.

(My note: this is also true, to an extent, of the oral-situational approach which I was trained in where most vocabulary is learned incidentally as part of question-answer sequence…

Google Translate beaters

Google Translate is a really useful tool, but some teachers say that they have stopped setting written work to be done at home because students are cheating by using it. On a number of occasions I have seen teachers asking what tasks can be set which make the use of Google Translate hard or impossible. Having given this some thought I have come up with one possible Google Translate-beating task type. It's a two way gapped translation exercise where students have to complete gaps in two parallel texts, one in French, one in English. There are no complete sentences which can be copied and pasted into Google.

This is what one looks like. Remember to hand out both texts at the same time.


_____. My name is David. _ __ 15 years old and I live in Ripon, a _____ ____ in the north of _______, near York. I have two _______ and one brother. My brother __ ______ David and my _______ are called Erika and Claire. We live in a _____ house in the centre of ____. In ___ house _____ …

A zero preparation fluency game

I am grateful to Kayleigh Meyrick, a teacher in Sheffield, for this game which she described in the Languages Today magazine (January, 2018). She called it “Swap It/Add It” and it’s dead simple! I’ve added my own little twist as well as a justification for the activity.

You could use this at almost any level, even advanced level where the language could get a good deal more sophisticated.

Put students into small groups or pairs. If in groups you can have them stand in circles to add a sense of occasion. One student utters a sentence, e.g. “J’aime jouer au foot avec mes copains parce que c’est amusant.” (You could provide the starter sentence or let groups make up their own.) The next student (or partner) has to change one element in the sentence, and so on, until you restart with a different sentence. You could give a time limit of, say, 2 minutes. The sentence could easily relate to the topic you are working on. At advanced level a suitable sentence starter might be:

“Selon un article q…

Dissecting a lesson: using a set of PowerPoint slides

I was prompted to write this just having produced for three separate PowerPoint presentations using the same set of 20 pictures (sports). A very good way for you to save time is to reuse the same resource in a number of different ways.

I chose 20 clear, simple, clear and copyright-free images from to produce three presentations on present tense (beginners), near future (post beginner) and perfect tense (post-beginner/low intermediate). Here is one of them:

Below is how I would have taught using this presentation - it won't be everyone's cup of tea, especially of you are not big on choral repetition and PPP (Presentation-Practice-Production), but I'll justify my choice in the plan at each stage. For some readers this will be standard practice.

1. Explain in English that you are going to teach the class how to talk about and understand people talking about sport. By the end of the lesson they will be able to say and understand 20 different sport…

Designing a plan to improve listening skills

Read many books and articles about listening and you’ll see it described as the forgotten skill. It certainly seems to be the one which causes anxiety for both teachers and students. The reasons are clear: you only get a very few chances to hear the material, exercises feel like tests and listening is, well, hard. Just think of the complex processes involved: segmenting the sound stream, knowing lots of words and phrases, using grammatical knowledge to make meaning, coping with a new sound system and more. Add to this the fact that in England they have recently decided to make listening tests harder (too hard) and many teachers are wondering what else they can do to help their classes.

For students to become good listeners takes lots of time and practice, so there are no quick fixes. However, I’m going to suggest, very concisely, what principles could be the basis of an overall plan of action. These could be the basis of a useful departmental discussion or day-to-day chats about meth…