Français de souche and more expressions inspired by France

Seven of France’s most prominent politicians attended the ‘Made in France’ trade fair this weekend. We look at phrases related to being French and the language.

15 November 2021

Learn French words and expressions you may hear in the news today Pic: The Connexion

Six official presidential candidates attended the Made In France trade fair in Paris this weekend, namely Marine Le Pen (Far-right), Jean-Luc Mélenchon (Far-left), Valérie Pécresse (Right), Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (Considered to be in between right and far-right), Arnaud Montebourg (Left), Yannick Jadot (Green party)

Rumoured candidate Eric Zemmour (Far-right) was also present.

‘Made In France’ promotes supporting France-based companies, over 820 of which attended the fair and exhibited their products.

The politicians used this opportunity to share their ‘vision of sovereignty’, with Marine Le Pen targeting current president Emmanuel Macron about his ‘globalist’ mindset and left-wing presidential candidate Arnaud Montebourg attending as both a political leader and exhibitor, promoting his honey brand bleu blanc ruche.

We look at three French expressions related to France:

Français de souche (literally ‘French of the trunk’):

This expression refers to French people who do not have any immediate foreign descent.

It was originally used in Algeria in the 19th century to designate colonists and later, to distinguish between pieds-noirs (French people born in Algeria) and French citizens of Algerian descent who are sometimes referred to as Français de papier (literally ‘French on paper’).

In 1958, the terms Français de souche européenne (FSE) (literally ‘French of european trunk’) and Français de souche nord-africaine (FSNA) (literally ‘French of north african trunk’) became administrative (and thus official).

However, the phrase Français de souche is now controversial due to its association with the far right and avoided by many, especially left-leaning, politicians.

Parler français comme une vache espagnole (literally ‘to speak French like a Spanish cow’):

This expression means to speak French badly.

It is thought that it was coined in the 17th century, and that the ‘vache’ is a deformation of the word ‘vasque’, which designates somebody coming from the Basque Country in Spain. At the time, there was a large number of Basque valets in Paris, who likely did not speak French well, which would have inspired the phrase.

De France et de Navarre (literally ‘from France and Navarre’):

This expression means ‘from everywhere’.

The Kingdom of Navarre, which was located in what is now the Spanish province of Navarra, was at various points, in full or in part, ruled by France.

As it was far from the rest of the country, the expression ‘from France and Navarre’ came to mean ‘from everywhere’.

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