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La go, brouteur: Do you know these French words in Petit Robert 2023?

Many words from the African continent are making their way into common parlance in France

Le Petit Robert dictionary

Le Petit Robert is a popular dictionary in France Pic: defotoberg / Shutterstock

Several new words with African origins have been included in the latest edition of Le Petit Robert’s 2023 dictionary. 

These include “go”, “brouteur” and “babtou”. 

The word “go” is a feminin noun meaning a young woman or in some cases a girlfriend. It comes from the Bambara language, spoken in Mali. 

Brouteur has a double sense, meaning both to graze or eat a lot without effort, or to refer to a fraudster who runs online scams, usually on social media. 

The word was popularised by the Ivorian series 'Brouteur.com', which has been broadcast for several years on TV5 Monde and currently has three series. 

Babtou is a variation of the word "toubab", which was added to Le Petit Robert in 2014. 

It is used to refer to a European person, a person from France métropolitaine or a white person in general. 

It can also be used in a pejorative sense to refer to an African person who has adopted a Western way of life. 

An extension of the word is babtou fragile, which describes a weak person who is usually a victim. 

Jérémie Kouadio N'Guessan, a professor of language sciences in Côte d’Ivoire and a member of the scientific council of the Dictionary of Francophones, welcomed the inclusion of these words from Africa in the popular French dictionary.

“This is the normal conclusion of things. We have appropriated this language and we create words. I'm very happy that this is happening,” he told Le Monde

He said that he thinks more African words could be added. 

"In Africa, there is an abundance. I think that in the case of Côte d'Ivoire, about twenty words and expressions could be included in the dictionary without any problem.”

Géraldine Moinard, editorial director of Le Petit Robert, said that the inclusion of these words adds to the evolution and enrichment of the French language. 

“It's fantastic to observe for those of us who are at the heart of the dictionary,” she said. 

She said that around 150 and 200 new words are added to the dictionary every year.

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