Parlez-vous Franglais?

Parlez-vous Franglais?


Franglais is a term originating in the 1960s and to quote the Oxford English Dictionary it is ‘a blend of French and English, either French speech that makes excessive use of English expressions, or unidiomatic French spoken by an English person’. This marriage of words from two different languages can be produced either by poor knowledge of one of these languages or for humorous effect. As Miles Kington, the columnist and critic put it: ‘The trouble with French is that there are far too few English words in it.’

Although English is not the most widely spoken language in the world – that honour goes to Mandarin, with over 1 billion speakers – English comes in second as it is the official language of many more countries. French comes in at around eighth to tenth depending on which study or survey is accepted. Looking at the European Union the popularity of French has waned with the addition of various waves of new member states over the years since the early days of the Common Market when French was more or less the lingua franca at the negotiating tables in Strasbourg and Brussels.

It is hardly surprising then that English words have crept into the French language probably via a mixture of routes: culturally through books, newspapers, magazines, and TV programmes and movies exported by the United Kingdom and more so by the United States; English is the global language of business and diplomacy; and the large number of British residents with second homes in France or have become expats and moved entirely to France in search of a different way or pace of life.

A few examples of the English words and phrases that have crept into the French language are: ‘les baked beans’, ‘le booze-cruising’, ‘le snowboard’, ‘le check-in and ‘le check-out’, ‘le software’, ‘le spam’ (the computer variety, not the tinned meat product), and ‘le red carpet’.


Vive le franglais!