The French language is constantly changing and evolving, but more and more Anglicisms have been creeping in, particularly with the growth of start-ups and French tech companies.
The Académie francaise is the language authority in France and seeks to manage and hold off the tide of Anglicisms. It sees itself as the ‘guardian of the French language’, explained former secretary Hélène Carrère d'Encausse in an exclusive interview with The Connexion.
Admittedly, some Anglicisms can be justified - technical words, concepts or tools, especially those coined in the US.
For example, ‘data warehouse’ is a term used in its English form by employees of some French tech companies. This is generally because it is widely understood, and takes less effort than its French translation entrepot de données.
However, the use of Anglicisms - even in unwarranted situations - has almost become the norm nowadays.
These can seem unnecessary (especially if the French equivalent is just as short or easy to say), and can also appear annoying and obnoxious if someone is using them to demonstrate a form of ‘power’ or ‘coolness’.
So widespread are the Anglicisms, that - as the sentence below shows - it does not take much to create an entire Franglais (French and English) phrase from them. Here are some of the most annoying and unnecessary.
The Connexion fait un quick summary des anglicismes les plus red-flag employés par les Français.
‘On se fait un call / lunch’
‘On se fait un call’ or ‘on se fait un lunch’ means ‘Let’s have a call’ and ‘do you want to have lunch together?’
The employment of the two English words in extremely simple and straightforward sentences seems unnecessary at best, and at worst, as if someone is trying to seem trendy.
The French ‘on s’appelle?’, ‘on se fait un déjeuner’ or ‘on se fait un déj’’ are already widespread, easy to say, and get the point across.
Some French people say and pronounce ‘asap’ (as soon as possible) in one word, to mimic the English acronym. They might say: ‘je te fais ça asap’ (I’ll do that as soon as possible for you).
But ‘au plus vite’ or 'aussitôt’ are correct French ways to say it.
‘En live’ (live) is another painfully unnecessary Anglicism used to characterise something performed live, even though French uses the word ‘en direct’.
Popular comic trio Les Nuls has even made fun of this Anglicism, which is most often used by TV anchors and journalists. The trio mocked them and said that events were happening ‘en direct live’, redundantly using the French ‘en direct’ with the English ‘going live’.
‘Wokisme’ is a French word derived from the English ‘woke’ but with the addition of the suffix -isme to show more of the ideology behind it.
‘Wokisme’ and ‘woke’ are buzzwords, mainly used by right-wing conservatives and far-right politicians, pundits and TV channels, in a pejorative way, to demean left-leaning people, or those who they consider to be ‘too sensitive’ or ‘too politically-correct’.
Ça fait sens
‘Ça fait sens’ is a different type of Anglicism than prior examples because it does not come from the use of an English word in a French sentence, but instead from copying the structure of the English language and applying it to French.
‘Ça fait sens’ is a direct translation of ‘it makes sense’.
However, it does not make grammatical sense in French, even though every French person would understand it, and many may use it.
OH. MY. GOD.
This is another English-language structure, taken mostly from American TV shows, or videos on YouTube and elsewhere on social media, where the emphasis is put on EVERY. SINGLE. WORD. to show a strong reaction or feeling.
This one works better if it is said with a French accent.
“C’est insane” / Ridiculous
This last example combines both types of Anglicisms: an English word, and English sentence structure.
‘C’est insane’ means ‘it’s insane’ but with the French conjugation form of the verb to be (‘est’). It is used to react to something extraordinary (rather than necessarily the original meaning of the word ‘insane’, to mean crazy, mad, or mentally ill).
It is quite unnecessary considering the myriad of French words that exist to express the extraordinary characteristics of something such as ‘incroyable’, ‘extraordinaire’, ‘hors du commun’, ‘remarquable’ etc.