Did you know you already speak French?

It’s true, and I’m not just talking about quiche and Tar-jay.

Franglais is the curious and unlikely (but perhaps inevitable) invasion of English into the French language.

Not since the un-easy (but remarkably convenient) alliance of Franco-American culture, as found in Franco-American ‘Spaghetti-O’s™’ (whose relationship seems more Italian-American…if you ask me), has there been such a near-fatal collision of two diverse cultures and languages.

Here’s some of the more popular Franglais words that I hear on the streets and in cafés;

Très People
: Very celebrity-conscious, in reference to People magazine, which curiously isn’t available here.

Le Lifting: Le Plastic Surgery

Le Jogging: Jogging (like that’s something you see a lot in Paris!…)

Les Baskets
: Sneakers…which Parisians wear for style, not comfort. Très chic.

Les Thongs: Plastic Flip-flops (in French, the ‘h’ is silent, so it’s not ‘thongs’, like G-strings, you say, “Les Tongs”). And ‘thongs’ (the underwear kind…for both sexes) as well as the plastic ones (for your feet) are quite popular in Europe. I almost bought a thong by accident (you know which kind…) when buying undies a few months ago.
Ouch! Those things look painful.

Les Preservatifs: Male contraception (aka; condoms), Don’t ask a chef is he uses preservatifs unless you’re prepared to get romantically involved.

Le Weekend: The weekend.
(This is interesting since there are only a 23 words in my French dictionary that begin with “W”, and all of them originated from other languages; Walkman, Water polo, W-C, Weekend, Wagon, etc…and when I play Scrabble in French, I always seem to get stuck with the “W”, which is like a cruel joke. It’s such a high-value letter, but I can never find a way to use it. Could that be why I always lose when playing Scrabble in French?… or could it be the unending fountain of points found in French verbs, which French Scrabble players have to their advantage…with 14 different verb tenses to pick and choose from, no wonder they always win!)

Le Shopping: Shopping (ok, that’s another no-brainer, but Americans are better at shopping so it seems fitting that they use an English word when there’s plenty of words they have already in their massive vocabularies.)

McDo’s: McDonald’s (Did you know the French are the largest consumers of McDonald’s in Europe?)

Les Emails: There’s lively controversy whether this is supposed to be plural around here.
We say in English, “I have a hundred emails to read.” but we also say “I can’t get to all of my email today.”. or, “I have a hundred pieces of email to read.”
“I could sure go for a nice, big slab of chocolate cake.”, and we also say (or at least I say), “I’ve could eat chocolate cake all day.”, but also, “Hmmm, look at all those delicious chocolate cakes.”
(Boy, am I glad to be a native-English speaker. Imagine if I’d had to learn to read and write in English…you might not read my blog if I spoke, say, Latvian or Estonian…would you!…unless you were Latvian, or Estonian, I supposed, but then you wouldn’t know who I was. But wait a minute, how do you know who I am??)

Les Teenagers: Teenagers

Les Top Models: Supermodels (however in America they’re revered, and here no one understands our fascination with them.)

Le Gadget: Gadget (which sounds cute when French people say it.)

Le Snack: A relatively new concept, and the reason that the French are getting rounder.

Le Fast Food: Another relatively new concept, and Reason #2 the French are getting rounder

Très Snob: Someone snobbish.

So that’s 15 new, and very au courant words you can add to your French vocabulary.

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  • September 4, 2005 12:07am

    Alors — qui est le VRAI David Lebovitz? Peut-etre la reponse est entre les lignes? Voila! Entre toutes les phrases des bonnes humeurs? Bien sur! C’est par ca qu’on vous connait?

  • Alisa
    September 4, 2005 7:47am

    Ahh, this was funny! Loved the chocolate cake tangent.
    I have a few of my favorites to add: le pressing, le parking, and tres cool!

  • laurent
    September 4, 2005 1:41pm

    Teenagers ? Oups yes french know what it means but they don’t use it (rather adolescents).
    Concerning snack, it looks to me this is indeed relative recent word (perhaps appeared in the 70’s). It generally describes very bad “frites” restaurants along roads… Not often used.
    Many true funny things in your blog. Congratulations ;)

  • September 5, 2005 1:45pm

    You’re so funny. You could also say how hard it is for native english people to understand french people when they use english words with a french accent (which I do by the way).

  • September 5, 2005 2:42pm

    Can’t wait to try these out at the Dollar Store!