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Flanglais Slang

Flanglais Slang

English sense

In English Franglais means a mangled combination of English and French, produced either by poor knowledge of one or the other language or for humorous effect. If one tries to speak French and fills in gaps in their knowledge with English words or false friends with their incorrect meaning, the result is Franglais. Franglais may also mean a diplomatic compromise such as UTC.


  »  je care pas — I don't care.
  »  je suis tired or I am tired — I am tired.

For the former tendency we have only to remember Chaucer's Prioress, who (he tells us) knew nothing of the French of Paris, but only that of Stratford-atte-Bow ('Cockney French').

An early literary example of the delight in mélange occurs in Robert Surtees' Jorrocks' Jaunts and Jollities:

"You shall manger cinque fois every day," said she; "cinque fois," she repeated.--"Humph!" said Mr. Jorrocks to himself, "what can that mean?--cank four--four times five's twenty--eat twenty times a day--not possible!" "Oui, Monsieur, cinque fois," repeated the Countess, telling the number off on her fingers--"Café at nine of the matin, déjeuner à la fourchette at onze o'clock, diner at cinque heure, café at six hour, and souper at neuf hour."

On a more rarefied level, Franglais can provide puns for more curious humorous effects.


  »  se marier — to become a Maori
  »  coupe de grass — lawn mower (play on "coup de grâce").
  »  pas de deux — father of twins.
  »  J'accuse réception — I accuse the secretary.
  »  Trois, quatre, cinq — This sounds like trois cats sank, meaning three cats drowned.
  »  cottage fromage — cottage cheese
  »  Any of which can perhaps be followed with the apostrophe Pretentious? Moi?

The humorist Miles Kington wrote a regular column Parlez vous Franglais which, for a number of years starting in the late 1970s, appeared in the magazine Punch.

Books published by Miles Kington include: Let's Parler Franglais, Let's Parler Franglais Again!, Parlez-vous Franglais?, Let's Parler Franglais One More Temps, The Franglais Lieutenant's Woman and Other Literary Masterpieces.

Another classic is Jean Loup Chiflet's Sky My Husband! Ciel Mon Mari! which is a literal translation (and a correct one too, for comparison) of French into English. (The title might better have been translated as "Good Heavens! My Husband!").

French sense

In French (and sometimes in English), the term refers to the use of anglicisms (English words) for which there are French equivalents, the most notorious of which is le week-end. These anglicisms are often regarded as unwelcome imports, and as bad slang. Plus, the term refers to nouns created on Anglo-Saxon roots, often by adding "ing" at the end of a popular word, e.g. un parking (a car park or parking lot), un camping (a campsite), le marketing, le shampooing (shampoo).

A few words that have entered use in French are derived from English roots but are never found at all in English, such as un relooking (a makeover), un déstockage (a clearance sale). For those who don't speak English, those words are often mistaken for true English nouns.


Franglais should not be confused with Quebec French, which has a number of longstanding borrowings from English as the result of the historical coexistence of two linguistic communities inside Quebec and especially the Montreal area.

Similarly, English spoken by the anglophone minority in Quebec has borrowed certain Quebec French words such as dépanneur for corner store, autoroute for highway, PAB (from préposé aux bénéficiaires) for nurse's assistant or stage for internship.

These are permanent and longstanding features of local usage rather than the incorrect speech improvised by any given individual user with poor knowledge of the other language. They have mainly become part of a common ground tongue born out of mutual concession to one another, sponging up to each other. In fact, the substantial fluently bilingual community in and around Montreal will occasionally refer to "Franglais", usually after it is pointed out that someone has used a variety of French and English words, expressions, or propositions in a 'correct' fashion in the same sentence or point, a surprisingly common occurrence. In this sense, the term "Franglais" is used as much in a European context as in Canada (except Quebec).

However, the term Franglais is used in New Brunswick, Manitoba and some parts of Northern Ontario and northern Maine to refer to the mix of English and French spoken there, which is itself a longstanding dialect. This mix uses just about as much English as French.


After World War II, a backlash began in France over the increasing use of Franglais there. Corruption of the national language was perceived by some to be tantamount to an attack on the identity of the country itself.

During this period import of large amounts of United States products led to increasingly widespread use of some English phrases throughout French culture. Measures taken to slow this trend included government censorship of comic strips and financial support for the French film and French language dubbing industries.

Despite public policies against the spread of English, the use of Franglais is increasing in both written and oral expression.

In recent years English expression are increasingly present in French mass media: TV reality shows generally use English titles such as Loft Story (Big Brother), Star Academy (or Star Ac') and Popstars. The leading national newspaper Le Monde publishes a weekly article selection of The New York Times entirely in English and uses anglicisms such as newsletter (instead of lettre de diffusion), chat (instead of clavardage), and e-mail (instead of courriel). NRJ (pronounced énergie), the leading broadcast station, which targets a young audience, is known for a massive use of Franglais expressions. In James Huth's blockbuster movie Brice de Nice (to be pronounced like if it was English), Franglais is used in an abusive way in order to increase its appeal among the teenage audience.

Almost all telecommunication and Internet service providers generally use English and Franglais expressions in their product names and advertising campaigns. The leading operator France Télécom has dropped the accents in its corporate logo. In recent years it has changed its product names with smart sounding expressions such as "Business Talk", "Live-Zoom", "Family Talk". France Telecom's mobile telecommunications subsidiary Orange runs a franchise retail network called mobistores. Its Internet subsidiary Wanadoo, whose corporate name is inpired by the American slang expression "wanna do", provides services called Livebox. The second largest Internet service provider in France is Free.

SNCF, the state-owned railway company, has recently introduced a customer fidelity program called S'Miles, at the same time Air France renamed its frequent flyer program Fréquence Plus as Flying Blue. The Paris Transportation Authority (RATP), recently introduced a handfree pass system called NaviGO.

The French Academy (Académie française) and public authorities such as the High Council for the French Language (Conseil supérieur de la langue française) generally propose alternative words for anglicisms. The acceptance of these proposals varies a lot : "ordinateur" and "logiciel" have definitely replaced the English words "computer" and "software", whereas "vacancelle" failed to replace "weekend". The word "courriel", a translation of "e-mail" initially proposed by the Quebec Office of the French Language, is slowly coming into use in written French. However, most of French Internet users generally speak about "mail" without the prefix "e-".

The use of English expressions is very common in the youth language, which combines them with verlan and expression of Arabic origins. The letter J is often prononced in the English way in words like jeunes (young). The word black referring to people of African descent is considered to be more politically correct than Noir.


There is an English equivalence to the concept of the French word "Franglais". It is usually called "Frenglish". Many Anglo Montrealers grew up learning English in schools and living in a society dominated by French; in the media and on every outdoor signs - mandatory under Quebec Law.

A person who is said "to speak a perfect Frenglish" means he/she speaks an English riddled with common French expressions. Examples:

  » "Open/Close the lights” instead of “Turn on/off the lights"

  » "This story doesn’t have sense” instead of “This story doesn’t make sense"

  » "Fur traders were responsible for the formation of McGill University" instead of "Fur traders were responsible for the establishment of McGill University"

  » "Let’s go drink sangria on a teRASse" instead of "Let’s go drink sangria on a TERrace." (pronunciation)

Frenglish is a term widely used in Montreal English.