Friday, 31 May 2013

Englishisms dans la France – so to speak

A bit of light humour for this week’s blog entry – we were amused by the BBC’s recent article on Englishisms in France, meaning the way that certain English words or phrases just get dropped into conversation or onto street and shop signs which blatantly don’t fit with the French language.

This article was spurred by a row over plans to teach some courses at French universities in English – some French citizens and defenders of the language of Molière were said to be outraged by the suggestion – yet the BBC remind us that plenty of French people habitually sprinkle their speech with Franglais.

The article shared some readers favourite examples of this – our favourites are: talkie-walkie (the equivalent of walkie-talkie in French) – genius!  Also the phrases: “faire du shopping" and "le booze-cruising” another couple of classics.

On a more serious note, interpretation of language can be a tricky thing.  There are so many different accents, dialects and idioms – not to mention accidently using a word in English that has a completely different meaning in another language but sounds similar (known as a ‘false friend’).  Then you have speech impediments and other language-related obstacles to consider too.  All of these elements can really get in the way when it comes to making sense of other languages, and indeed communicating with locals while overseas.

The idea of dropping a sudden English word into an obvious French phrase might seem amusing (and in many cases it is) but it can also help us British travellers massively when it comes to deciphering other languages.  Just giving us that hint or little inkling of an English word could be the answer to our prayers should we find ourselves in the middle of an area where no one speaks English (which is not uncommon – even in France, although some might not believe it).  Head out of a tourist area and you will find that most people don’t speak English at all.

In this situation, feasting your eyes upon a sign saying ‘Le Snack Bar’ or ‘Le Check-in’ at the local airport might just be what you needed to see!

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