Le Thought du Jour

Why do the French love to say ‘f**k’ so much?

Why do the French love to say 'f**k' so much?
Screengrab from 20 Minutes and Canal Plus (blurring by The Local) .
The French curse word of choice is more often than not an English one. The Local tries to get to the bottom of why the French say 'f$$K' all the time. Warning, article contains strong language.
“Fuck” is a common word in France and it's not just because of the hordes of Brits and Americans living here.
The locals appear to use it in conversation as much as English-speakers do and often even more.
The young and trendy French people aren't afraid to say it, the English-language TV shows (when they're not dubbed) aren't censored, and you can even hear expletive-laden rap songs at McDonald's in Paris (well, we have anyway).
And TV station Canal Plus had a weekly programme called “What The F**k France!” except without the asterisks and albeit featuring an Englishman.
In fact, you can even see the word fuck in newspaper headlines (and regularly). 
A head-turning regular section of the 20 Minutes web site was actually called “What the fuck”, and showcases unusual pictures from around the internet.
Let's face it you would never see that kind of section on a respectable news site in the UK or the United States.
And when you talk to French people of the younger generation in English they will more often than not use the f-word more than you do. Partly to impress, but partly because they just do.
One of the reasons why the French seem to use the word so much is that they just don't get the weight of “fuck” in English. There's no real translation that gets the same force of the word – putain or merde just don't do it justice. 
Camille Chevalier-Karfis, founder of FrenchToday.com, said the use of the word has left her scratching her head too.  
“I am surprised at the use of the word “fuck” in the French language, especially since it seems to me that the French don't use it right,” she told The Local. 
“This morning only, a friend sent me an email about her elderly mother that said: “je ne supporte plus cette fucking mother méthode” (I can no longer stand this despicable method my mother uses). Why did she write this part in English? Probably to show her anger, because it sounded good to her this way.”
“I would never associate the word “fuck” with my own 76-year-old mother. It just sounds wrong. But the French don't have enough of a feeling for the word, or rather they have the wrong feeling for it.”
Perhaps it's all about being cool?
For the more travelled, more connected younger generation of French people it's trendy to work all kinds of English words into their everyday conversations, so perhaps it's no surprise that the f-word is one of them.
Perhaps it's from watching all those Hollywood films over the years, where the f-word has been given a softer translation when it's subtitled or dubbed into French.
But the nonchalance towards swearing in English can perhaps be better be explained by the fact that the French adore swearing in general. 
Sometimes the French throw out long strings of expletives when they're irritated, as famously highlighted in the Matrix Reloaded film (see below).
For those interested, the actor, Frenchman Lambert Wilson, says: “Nom de dieu de putain de bordel de merde de saloperie de connard d'enculer ta mère”. 
A rough translation would be: “Godforsaken whore from a piece-of-shit arse brothel – go and bugger yer mother”.
We've lost count of the amount of times I've heard the word “putain” (whore) in front of little impressionable French kids, which despite being one of the most common swear words in French is still considered by many to be coarse.  
The French are just a bit more liberal with cursing than the Brits or the Americans, similarly to how they're more liberal with their sex and nudity on TV (the new French show Versailles has been called 'primetime porn' by the British media). 
Yes, the French are a liberal bunch and don't mind a good bout of coarse language, so you may as well get used to it too. 
But lastly, if you're thinking about getting into swearing in French, one language expert advises that “know it, don't show it” is the best approach. 
An ode to the greatest French swear word ever

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