Friday, 31 May 2013

Lingua Franca

"Allo Allo" as the English like to say, the Academie Francaise (the official authority, originally set up in 1635 to defend the French language against Italian), is once again up in arms, or whatever the equivalent in French is (dans les bras?), over the ever increasing use of English as the 'Lingua Franca' in Europe, but especially in France.

So what's new about this? I almost hear you shrug in a Gallic way. Well, this time its the twin issues that are .....

Issue 1: A French government Education Minister recently suggested that unless French Universities started teaching many more courses in English, they would simply become irrelevant in this century.

Of course in reality the very elite French business schools and educational establishments have already been teaching some courses in English for over 15yrs, but kept it very quiet inside France for fear of provoking the same sort of outcry that is occurring now. The newspaper Liberation for example, lists over 790 higher education courses today, that are taught in English.

Issue 2: French youths adoption of 'Franglais', where they use a mixture of Anglo/French terms such as:

Made up words such as:
  • 'Fooding' (made out of "food" and "feeling"), meaning 'Love of food' .
  • 'Bug' - as in quit bugging me.
  • 'Le Weekend' - obvious.
  • 'Buzz' - vibe, hit etc
  • 'Fashion' - obvious
  • 'People' - strangely this is 'celebrities'
  • 'Standing ovation' etc
  • '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.
  • 'No-'ow' [know-how] instead of "savoir faire".
  • 'Les baked beans'.
  • 'Faire du shopping'.
  • 'Le booze-cruising'.
  • 'Le hardware'.
  • 'Le software'.
  • 'Le spam'.
  • 'Le goal average'.

What could be more Franglais than "je vais faire du booze-cruising"?

And apparently the French for a walkie-talkie is... "talkie-walkie"! ... and there are allegedly another 10,000 English-derived words or phrases.

Franglais High Streets In France

One French Scholar has said that the increasing use of "Globish" .... ('Global English' in case, if like me, you started thinking 'Elfish'), by which he means the primitive English of non-English-speaking students, is not suitable for teaching in (and as a call centre user, and experiancer of "Dell Hell" 'Hinglish', I sympathise).

However, they are all swimming against the tide of history, as French as a spoken language of influence has declined markedly in the last 100 yrs. French now ranks as only the worlds eighth most-spoken language.

Some authorities list Mandarin Chinese with 1,026m speakers, as the worlds most spoken language, followed by English with 765m and Spanish with 466m. According to, which has a rather high estimate, French has 220m speakers. However, numbers, like size, aren't everything, and in world influence (science, politics, etc) French is marginalised, A recent study (April 2013), by, suggested that English was the most widely used language on the internet, accounting for 54.9% of web content, with Russian in second place with 6.1% and with French languishing in sixth spot on 4.3%.

Incidentally, the Academie Francaise has singularly failed to stem any linguistic tide (after all living languages should evolve - where's Latin now?). There are reportedly today as many Italian as there are English originated words in the French language, and now Italian Universities teach many classes in English themselves, and for much the same reasons as the French Universities will do so.

Lets Parler Franglais

Last word (as always), to a French man, the literary critic Bernard Pivot, who said "Why speak French well, when you can speak English badly?".


  1. They do themselves no favours; not only do the french, generally, not speak it well and write it even worse, but they make films which require french subtitles! In an effort for gritty realism, actors speak so fast and badly that no amount of <<Rewinding will shed light on what they just said. Almost to prove the point, the much acclaimed french film The Artist had no dialogue.

    1. Good point. A silent French Movie (doesn't) say it all LOL

  2. Ofway oursecay inway igpay atinLay heretay isway onay eednay orfay 'ranglaisFay' orway anyway otherway ashtray anguageslay

    1. Not seen Pig Latin since the 6th form at school ....


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