French fights back!
To counter the flow of new words coming from the English, Alain Finkielkraut and his Power Rangers from the Académie française are doing everything they can to try to keep up and create French words to use instead. Sometimes it's a win, sometimes it's just goofy and ends in a big fail.
People from Quebec are actually the best at it, they have words we wouldn't even consider to use in France, like "hambourgeois" for "hamburger". That's just another level, way above my head. So we'll only be talking about French from France, words that have been proposed and validated by official French institutions.
Here are some of the interesting "new" French words supposed to replace English ones :
- Un courriel (an email) -> The most famous one. The word exists since the 90's and pretty much succeed in replacing email. Most people still say "email" or "mail", but it's not unusual to see "courriel", or "mél".
- Un pourriel (a spam) -> It sounds like a pun, but it's actually a real word from Quebec French. It's a mix of courriel and pourri (rotten).
- Divulgâcher (to spoil) -> My favorite. It just entered the Larousse dictionary this year. It means to spoil as in "to spoil the end of a show". It's a mix of "divulguer" (to disclose, to reveal) and "gâcher" (to waste, to spoil). I highly doubt that it will ever be used by the youth, but shout out the guy who came up with this nice word.
- Un égoportrait (a selfie) -> This one is pretty clear for English speakers too. Ego + portrait. Good one if you ask me, though unlikely to become common.
- Une infox (a fake news) -> Contraction of info and intox. Intox is short for intoxication (= poisoning) and was already used to mean fake news. "Info ou intox?" is a common expression meaning "Is it a true info or not ?". "Infox" appears a bit superfluous.
- Une imagette (a thumbnail) -> A cute one. The suffixe -ette is commonly used to mean "petit(e)". Une imagette est une petite image.
- Un fureteur (a lurker) -> To designate someone on a Forum who watches passively without participating (like you rn, I see you!). It comes from "furet" which means "ferret".
- Une FAQ -> Frequently asked questions in English, but Foire aux questions in French! No need to change the acronym, way to go French!
Voilà ! Hope it's been entertaining to read and that you've learned some stuff :)
See you around on Duolingo's forums!
What an interesting and fun post!
This type of information really helps bring the language and culture to life.
In the USA there is a news provider called "Fox News" and it's frequently referred to as "Faux News". Now we have infox. This makes me laugh.
I think my favorite in the list is égoportrait.
Je serais très heureuse de voir plus de commentaires comme cela. C'est génial!
I love divulgâcher! What a clever combination of words! Thanks for sharing these - I hadn’t heard of them all :)
Why wouldn't French people adopt "hambourgeois"? It's brilliant! A bourgeois is a Bürger, after all. ;-)
I must admit, you had me hooked at "power rangers".
Let's be honest, except for "courriel", none of those are really used in common French ^^. Even "infox" which should be used quite a lot, seems to be replaced by the boring "fausse information", at least in the media. I don't count FAQ because it's not really a new word, we just pronounce the acronym in French.
That said, "divulgâcher" is my favorite, I try to push it on people when I think about it in conversations, it's so cute and so ugly at the same time that I wish it would replace "spoiler" for good.
What I am curious about, with these, is how common they are in different places....ie, are they more common in, say, the province of Quebec, than France?? I think the reason I naturally wonder this is that I'm an anglophone Canadian, so I am somewhat used to Quebec, it's non-nonsensical language laws, and its Quebecois. I did not learn Quebecois, ever....I learned more of a text-book France French in elementary and high school, and, later, in night-class. That's why I was so pleased that Duo teaches France French, as I wanted to continue with what I already knew.
I have lived, briefly, in Quebec, and have tried to learn a bit about Quebecois, which is very slangy, and has a lot of English words thrown in, and, I think, a tendency towards the kinds of words mentioned in the original post. These words seem like they'd fit right in in Quebec! Whereas I have a harder time imagining them in France. But I could be totally, totally wrong.
I agree with you but "divulgâcher" ça va être difficile à adopter quand même.
28% of English words come from French. 28% from Latin.
In a survey done by Joseph Williams 41% of the words used in English are from French. This was done naturally because the French domination of England after the Norman conquest. Newer words are more universal thus creating cultural anxiety for some people. In the United States I see spanish words creeping into the language but I don't see anyone trying to create new words for the spanish words.
^ "Joseph M. Willams, Origins of the English Language at". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2010-04-21.
I had heard of some of these when I was researching the French word for spork. (In Spanish it's cuchador :) So far, the French are sticking with spork:
Amazing post! I always disliked using English-sounding words in French (like "email"), so this made me happy!
I like imagette, it works in English too, so I'll use it there, it's actually better than a thumbnail anyway...
I'll never understand the group of rich, old people (mostly men) who run the Academie Française. Their group is called "The Immortals" in French and they try to "preserve" the French language, even though languages exist to adapt and change after generations.
If what you said were true, today's French would be the same as in 1634, which obviously is not true. Preserving a language is not freezing it. French has been continuously adapting and changing, generation after generation since the Académie Française was created.
Yes, the French language is still evolving, but it evolves DESPITE the efforts of the Académie Française. In some cases the Académie invented new rules which were adopted by the population in the end (though all the cases I know about date from the Ancien Régime and, oddly enough, aimed at making the masculine grammatical gender more "noble" compared to the feminine...) but nowadays its goal is mostly to prevent any change, and concede defeat when their irrelevance shows too much.
It's not true, because no institution of this sort can ever have any real effect. All languages belong solely to their speakers and to no one else.
Language is power as Orwell showed in 1984. It seems logic that official institutions are trying to model it. I personally think that it has nothing to do with preservation. It's a power issue.
It's always convenient to have a "standard" when you're learning a language, but creating a "Real French" or "Real [any language spoken by millions of people]" is a pipe dream. There will always be many ways to speak a language, all equally valid because socially existing. That is why I love the point of view of socio-linguists. They don't analyze a frozen language but every aspect of a living language and that's what's makes a language interesting and beautiful.
I totally disagree. Preserving languages is important. You said that languages exist to change and adapt....well, that's not a rule, it's just your personal opinion. And, of course, you're entitled to your opinion, but to act like it is a fact, instead of an opinion, is wrong. My personal opinion is that there is something to be said for the preservation of language. Take the type of French spoken here in Canada - the Quebecois speak an ugly, nasal-y, slangy, mangled mess of French. It's grammatically incorrect, it sounds awful in my ear, and is full of dropped letters, merged words, all kinds of messes....ie, even a simple 'je suis' becomes 'chu'. I personally think it's an ugly language. I personally think that proper, elegant, easy-on-the-ear, lovely, real France French should be preserved, so we don't end up with more horrid Quebecois types of languages.
This might be the biggest verbal diarrhea I've ever seen in these forums. 1. Preserving languages IS important (as in not letting them die), but preserving is different from fossilizing. 2. Languages DO change, it's a scientific fact, not an opinion. What you said is akin to saying "well, evolution is just your opinion man, it's not a fact", which it is. 3. Calling Quebecois French ugly and mangled is purely your personal, subjective opinion. As someone who clearly cares about separating facts from opinions you should know this. Good thing your opinion on the subject doesn't matter one bit. 4. Quebecois French isn't grammatically incorrect, no matter how many times you'll say that it is. 5. Imagine being ignorant and stupid enough to be a filthy prescriptivist and call Metropolitan French "real French" when it's in fact Quebecois French that is the more conservative French and stayed more loyal to the old form of French, while Metropolitan French underwent a lot more changes. 6. Educate yourself on linguistics, fool. 7. Learn to be a nicer person, jerk.
Oh please... You're free to not like Quebec French, but please spare the potential Quebecois reading this thread your ridiculous value judgements.
From their point of view it could make just as much sense to find our "real France French" as you call it to be the most horrible form of French, and instead think that "real French" is actually Quebec French.
And then people from various countries in Africa or even Switzerland or Belgium could join in and claim that their version of French is the best or whatever. It's a pointless debate to try to argue that your language is better because "it sounds lovely" or whatever, those are just personal tastes.
As for languages, they do change and adapt, because those which don't eventually die out. And when people try to "preserve" a language, they're doing exactly the same thing that it does on its own: they're creating new words for the new concepts. The only difference is that they chose these words so they feel reassured that their precious language is more authentic this way, but those are pointless if they're not used (and most of the time they're not). What determines if a word is good is not how people (native speakers or not) feel about it, what determines if it's good or not is whether it conveys some meaning and is being used, otherwise it's barely worth the ink used to print it in the dictionary.
Languages have always evolved, and have always done so by merging in part with other languages, in fact the French we speak today in France is extremely different from the various versions of French which were spoken through France's long history, showing that we've been totally incapable of "preserving" them. It's not going to start now in 2019, because the people who are trying to do that still have the wrong assumptions about how a language works. A language is like a living organism, you cannot build it or restore it like you would do with a building, it has its own life and you're powerless to stop it or control it (well, mostly powerless, if you're lucky maybe you'll have one of your words take root in your whole life...maybe).
@7.J.7 To add to @Arjofocolovi great comment, i'd say that you're comparing the language spoken everyday by people in Quebec with the French of the Académie française. It doesn't make any sense.
There is no such thing as "France french" if we're talking about the language spoken by people. North of French you have "le Ch'ti" and pretty much every region has people speaking a particular French.
If you want to compare French as decreed by institutions, @Ilan_Gamburg is right : Quebec institutions are way more conservative.
It's ok to have an opinion. It's better to have one based on knowledge and real information.
I love Quebec French! It feels like home when you speak it. We also have Chiac in New Brunswick - I have a feeling you’d hate that one even more lol. You have to be careful with your value judgements of language... there is no “real” French. That’s like saying Castellano is “real” Spanish. They’re just different dialects.
You should get your history straight before you start attacking Quebec French. For example the vowel sounds you deride are actually an older form of the language, that got lost in France but has been retained in Quebec. Quebec French is actually 'better preserved' than your beloved real French in many ways. You don't have to like it (there are many accents in English I don't like much) but at least get your facts straight.
I think the problem with most of these French words not catching on is the English words came about organically, through pop culture and were only later officially adopted by dictionnaries. No Academy forced them on us. I agree that infox is really apt.. though... shouldn't it be inrenard ;).
It takes people to use them :). So use them! That's my opinion anyway. I'll be using these wherever I can.
People don't use them because they find them weird, unnatural and uncomfortable to use. Native speakers of a language always know, intuitively, what fits a language.
Anything can go from uncomfortable to comfortable, it just takes someone to start using it. That is how language works. There are plenty of things in English that I would've said sounds "unnatural and uncomfortable to use" but then after hearing it a bunch, it flows out my mouth before I can stop it.
This is a really interesting post, thank you!
I think the difference with Quebec French is that you're dealing with a population of under 7 million floating in a sea of 350 million English speakers. There is a far greater threat of the language becoming anglicized than in France. There is a lot of politics around it as well but looked at in a broader perspective, there are good reasons for keeping the language as distinctly French as possible. (And even then, there are a lot of English-isms that sneak through in everyday speech.)
I never heard anybody in France use the word infox, if it caught up in English speaking country we may start thinking it was your idea in the first place.
Only terms I'm used to are courriel and FàQ, but definitely going to use imagette from now on!
I love this. I always admired the French trying hard to perserve their language. but if they want to really be effective, they should language laws like Quebec, meaning all non-french titles must have a French like name. I never liked English words in French, it makes it look like learning a language for nothing.
Très intéressant !! Moi j'aime pas comment il y a autant d'anglocismes en français.
Je cherchait plusieurs fois un bon mot pour dire "spoil" donc merci de me donner :).
Un "thumbnail" s'appelle une miniature non ? Ça me semble français.
Je trouve que certains mots sont trop longue pour devinir populaire mais si on les réduit, peut-être ça ira. Par exemple : un égoppe pour égoportrait :).
Merci pour la poste :)
J'aime qu'il y ait tant d'anglicismes en français.
J'ai cherché... merci de me le donner.
Je trouve que certains mot sont trop longs pour devenir populaires.
Merci pour la publication/l'article/le commentaire.
Thank you. I tried to take a screen shot for my French group but don’t know how to with my new iPad.