English job jargon invades French offices

Head into any French office these days and you are likely to hear a mixture of French peppered with examples of classic English office jargon. The author of “The dictionary of New French” tells The Local why the tide of Anglicisms will not be resisted in French workplaces.

English job jargon invades French offices
English jargon is invading French work places, but how are the French receiving it? Photo: Shutterstock

If one of the immortals at the Académie Française or the French “language police” as they are often referred to, stepped inside the office of any big company in Paris you could imagine them uttering the odd “Sacré Bleu!”.

While the Academie Française has put up a valiant resistance to the invasion of English over the years, one place where their defences have failed to hold is in the workplace.

Anglos have long complained about the rise of jargon in their offices, so our first instinct would be to spare a thought for the French, who have to put up with words like “brainstorming”, “benchmarking” and “bullet points” being thrust upon them.

However pity is not the correct emotion it seems, because young French professionals are enthusiastically, making use of the jargon to suit their needs.

“When the French use an Anglicism at work they have the impression it adds a bit of glamour to what they are saying,” Alexandre des Isnards, author of “Dictionaire de Nouveau Francais” tells The Local.

Des Isnards says around 50 percent of the content of his new book, which looks at the thousands of new words used in France, features Anglicisms. Various experts say the use of English or Franglais jargon in the work place will continue to increase dramatically over the coming years.

“The French have a special way of integrating English into French. We don’t do it like other languages. We will often change the spelling of English words to suit us. This is seen as having a certain creativity about it.

“Young French people these days are pragmatic. They know the importance of speaking English. These young professionals are not going to try to stop something they know will happen anyway.”

“They are a generation that knows the importance of publicity and marketing and that is where a lot of these words have come from.”

Des Isnards says the popularity in France of American TV series featuring young glamorous, funny professionals such as “How I Met your Mother” has also helped make using English jargon fashionable.

However the chief reason why English is not creeping, but barging its way into the French workplace is due to the pressures of modern professional life.

“When people are under pressure at work etc they say the first word that comes into their mind. They don’t stop and analyse it and think what word they should use.

“With new technology, people are under pressure to respond more quickly and often an English word or phrase is the easiest.

“Instead of trying to explain that they are busy, some French people would just use the verb ‘overbooker’.”

Despite this, some French language experts decry the use of English or Franglais, when often they say there is really no need.

“When there is a possible French translation I admit that I find it completely ridiculous [to use an English version],” respected French linguist Alain Rey told AFP.

Rey believes that in reality the French end up using a skewed version of English that can end up being different from what the original word means and can therefore lead to confusion.

But Des Isnards disagress.

“Sometimes English is used simply because it’s more efficient. For example it’s quicker to say “ASAP” (As soon as possible) than the French version (Aussi vite que possible or “urgent”).

“It’s not ridiculous it’s just inevitable with the way the world of work is these days,” he says.

So what are the Anglicisms your most likely to hear in a French office? Here’s our top 10.

ASAP – The acronym for “as soon as possible”, which is replacing French words “urgent” or “tout de suite”, as it can appear more polite and succinct.

Brainstorming –  It’s quite possible you’ve heard “On se prévoit un p’tit brainstorming” in France, basically “let’s have a little brainstorming”. The word has long been detested in Anglo offices and it won’t probably won’t be long before there’s a backlash in France.

Open Space  – This is all the fashion these days in French offices, although like everywhere “un espace de travail ouvert” can have its problems.

To do list – When French employees arrive at work they will often “faire un ‘to-do list’, of which the first thing will, if we are sticking to stereotypes, will be to grab a coffee and have a chat.

Conf call – Conference call in English is shortened in its Franglais version to just ‘conf call’ but it means the same, and is easier to say than “reunion de travail à distance par telephone”, which is the literal French translation. You’ll often hear French say “j’ai un conf call” or even just “j’ai un call”

Bullet Points: We can probably point the blame at Microsoft PowerPoint for the wide use of this term by French workers. “T’as prepare tes bullet points?” (Have you prepared your bullet points?) is a great example of how English jargon his mixed with French.

Deadline: Although the French have their own version for this word in “delai” the English term “deadline” seems to be the most popular. Perhaps because it contains a little bit more menace with the word “dead” in there.

FYI – This would be PTI in French or PVI (Pour Ton/Votre Information) but it is the Anglo version that is used the most by French people to keep their colleagues up to date with what is going on.

Workshop – Instead of hearing your French colleagues talk about the “Seminaire de Formation” that they are going on next week, they are more likely to simply say “workshop”.

Burnout – This syndrome is all the talk in France at the moment with new figures showing more and more French workers are suffering from the condition, that in French could be described as “syndrome epuisement”.

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How to get a summer job in France

As the summer holidays approach in France, many employers are looking for seasonal workers - so if you're looking for a summer job, here's how to go about it.

How to get a summer job in France

There are thousands of employment offers in France – a simple internet search for jobs d’été came up with numerous jobs boards offering work in France, while the government-backed Centre d’Information et de Documentation pour la Jeunesse (CIDJ) offers advice and information on all aspects of life for young people in France, including finding seasonal work and summer placements.

Sectors including agriculture, hospitality and tourism are always recruiting in the summer, seeking fruit-pickers, holiday camp workers and serving/hotel staff.

But what are the rules for people seeking summer jobs?

READ ALSO Vendange: What you really sign up for when you agree to help with the French wine harvest


Children from the age of 16 (under certain circumstances, the age limit drops to 14) who are legally resident in France can work as long as they have written authorisation from their parents or legal guardians. A model authorisation letter is available here

Those under the age of 18 cannot undertake certain jobs for health and safety reasons.

In the following circumstances, children as young as 14 or 15 can work during school holidays.

  • The holidays must last at least 14 days;
  • The child must work no more than half the days of the holiday – so, if a vacation period is two weeks, they can work for no more than one of those weeks;
  • The child is given ‘light duties’ that offer no risk to their safety, health, or development;
  • From the age of 15 and if the child has completed their troisieme education, a minor can register for an apprenticeship. 


Salary is usually paid monthly and will have a payslip. For those aged 18 and over, pay will be at least equal to the minimum wage.

 For those aged 14 to 17, who have less than six months’ professional experience, the minimum allowed rate is 80 percent of the minimum wage. For those aged 17 to 18, the rate rises to a minimum of 90 percent of France’s minimum wage.

  • The minimum wage in France is currently €10.85 gross per hour (€1,645.58 gross per month based on a 35-hour week);
  • the employment contract is fixed-term and can take different forms (fixed-term contract, seasonal employment contract, temporary employment contract, etc);
  • Seasonal employees are subject to the same obligations as the other employees of the company and have access to the same benefits (canteens, breaks, etc.).

Under 18s have certain additional protections:

  • between the ages of 14 and 16, during school holidays, employees on any contract cannot work more than 35 hours per week nor more than 7 hours per day;
  • They cannot work at night;
  • Those aged 14 to under 16 working during their school holidays can only be assigned to work which is not likely to harm their safety, their health or development.

Right to work in France

If you’re a French citizen or hold permanent residency in France then you have the right to work, but for foreigners there are extra restrictions.

Anyone who holds the passport of a EU/EEA country or Switzerland, is free to work in France or to travel to France seeking work without needing a visa or work permit.

Most other people will need permission to work in France – even if it’s only for a short period or for casual work such as grape-picking. Depending on your country of origin you may need a visa – everything you need to know about that is here.

In addition to the visa, you may also need a work permit, which is the responsibility of the employer.  To employ anyone in France for less than 90 days, an employer must get a temporary work permit – before the prospective employee applies for a short stay visa. This permit is then sent to the embassy at which the employee is applying for a visa.

If you come from countries including the UK, USA and Canada you can spend up to 90 days in France without a visa – but you may still need a work (convention d’accueil) if you want to work while you are here.

READ ALSO Six official websites to know if you’re planning to work in France

Certain countries have specific ‘seasonal worker’ visas on offer, for certain sectors which allows – for example – Canadians to come to France and work the ski season. 

Cash-in-hand jobs

Certain sectors which have a lot of casual workers – for example seasonal fruit-picking – do have cash-in-hand jobs, known in France as marché noir (black market) or simply travail au black (working on the black, or working illegally). 

This is of course illegal and working this way carries risks – as well as the possibility of losing your job if labour inspectors turn up you are also in a vulnerable position. If your employer suddenly decides not to pay you, or make unexpected deductions from your wages, there is very little you can do about it since you won’t have any kind of work contract.