The French language has its fair share of shortened forms of phrases for text message communication, which work in a similar way to the English idk (I do not know), tbh (to be honest), smh (shaking my head) and lol (laugh(ing) out loud).
The Connexion looked at the abbreviations that are the most often used in text messages here, by people from a wide age spectrum.
Many of the shortened forms, like their English counterparts, consist of three words beginning with distinguishable consonants.
Funnily enough, French people have also come to employ some English abbreviations as well.
Here’s our list. Please send in any you can add to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
‘Mdr’ – short for ‘mort de rire’ (dead from laughing) – is arguably the most popular abbreviation. This is the French equivalent to ‘lmao’ (laughing my ar** off) or ‘rofl’ (rolling on the floor laughing).
TKT or TQT
‘Tkt’ or sometimes ‘tqt’ is the shortener for ‘t’inquiète’ which means: ‘don’t worry’. ‘Tqt’ is technically more correct since t’inquiète is written with a ‘q’.
‘Y a R’ (the shortened form of ‘Il y a rien’) is also sometimes written with ‘rien’ (nothing) shortened here to the single letter R. This form is, however, mostly employed by younger people.
PSK or PCQ
‘Psk’ or ‘pcq’ means ‘parce que’ (because).
Many adverbs are shortened and reduced to three consonants such as ‘tjr’ (‘toujours’ ; always), ‘bcp’ (‘beaucoup’, a lot) or ‘cad/càd’ (‘c’est à dire’, that is to say or i.e.).
Using the same mechanics as tbf, tbh, irl (in real life) or ngl (not gonna lie), French people shorten some of the most straightforward and often used sentences.
‘Jtm’ means ‘je t’aime’ (I love you), ‘stp’ means ‘s’il te plait’ (please), ‘je ne sais pas’ (I don’t know (idk) translates as ‘jsp’ and ‘j’en peux plus’ (I have had enough but meant in the same way as ‘mdr’) becomes ‘jpp.’
Since Christmas is coming, ‘kdo’ is often written to shorten ‘cadeau’ (gift). Many words ending in an -o sound but written with -au, -eau, -aux or -eaux are shortened to -o only.
French journalists often refer to summaries as ‘chapo’ or ‘chapô’, but the origin of this term is unknown.
‘Qq’ or ‘qq’un’ means ‘quelqu’un’ (someone or somebody.) ‘Pk or pq’ means ‘pourquoi’ (why).
These text abbreviations differ from ‘écriture cancer’ (cancer writing), an internet expression to qualify sentences built using the worst grammatical forms possible to make them extremely painful to read, as they are used to speed up typing and reading.
An example would be: “Lékritur kancer pourré recenblé a sa ou le frases komportes bcp de fotes d’orthograf,” (Cancer writing could look like this where sentences carry a lot of misspellings and grammar mistakes), the sentence being extremely painful to understand as it is far from the original and correct grammar form.
The correct French sentence would read : L'écriture cancer pourrait ressembler à ça où les phrases comportent beaucoup de fautes d’orthographes.”
SHORTENED ENGLISH WORDS
French people also include some English abbreviations in text messages, the most obvious being ‘lol’ as an alternative form to ‘mdr.’
‘Asap’ (as soon as possible) is also employed more and more in text messages and both casual and professional conversations. One might say: ‘je te fais ça asap’ (I will do it as soon as possible).
‘NSFW’ (not safe for work), a word often employed in text messages to suggest that the content is inappropriate to a professional setting, is also used by younger people and slowly spreading towards older French generations.
Lastly, French people write ‘DIY’ in the same way as English speakers.
Some professional sectors – particularly companies in the technology industry – use a lot of abbreviations to refer to technical concepts or words such as ‘gmv’ for gross margin value, ‘bv’ for business volume or ‘aov’ for average order value.
Extending the phenomenon out of text messages, ‘French Tech’ – the nickname referring to French companies in the technology industry – is notorious for using many words in their English form, resulting in mockery from French people.
Examples include: ‘On se fait un call’ (‘let’s call each other’), ‘le site est down’ (the website is down), ‘je suis en meeting’ (I am in a meeting) ‘je te forward le mail’ (I’ll forward you the email) and ‘l’entreprise a une approche user-centric’ (the company has a user-centric approach).
It is interesting to note that French Tech companies are also referred to as ‘start-ups’.