French Word of the Day: Infox

This is a good one to shout at the telly if there are politicians on, and will also earn you the approval of France's culture minister.

French Word of the Day: Infox
Why do I need to know infox?
While infox is not that widely used in casual conversations, you might come across it more and more often when reading and watching the news.
So, what does it mean?
The word infox means 'fake news' and it's pronounced with the final 'x' spoken.
La Commission d'Enrichissement de la langue francaise [the Enrichment Commission for the French language], whose main purpose is to fight rogue anglicisms that pop up in French conversation, came up with the word back in 2017 through a mix of two others: information and intox.
An 'intox' is the abbreviation of intoxication that could be translated by 'hoax'.
But a hoax does not perfectly fit the concept of fake news. So for a while, French language purists used désinformation – disinformation- to talk about fake news but again, its meaning did not quite meet the reality.
Another option proposed by the Commission was information fallacieuse – fallacious information. Too long and a bit ancient-sounding, needless to say French media outlets neglected the term to adopt infox instead.
For example,  if you want to express your growing concern about fake news: On peut lire des infox partout maintenant! – Fake news really is everywhere nowadays!
Or you might read one of those headlines: Infox: Comment les détecter? – Fake news: How to spot them?
Although it is being used more frequently now, you will still see or hear the odd use of the English 'fake news' in France.
Other recommendations from the Commission
Infox is not the only new word made up to replace an English equivalent. Every year, the Enrichment Commission debates ideas to preserve French's cultural exception while allowing it to evolve.
Most recently, the commission recommended vérification des faits for fact-checking and logiciel malveillant for malware while the idea of a 'spoiler' or giving away the ending of a film or TV series became divûlgacher. They even suggested to entirely ditch the word beach for every kind of sport you can play on sand – beach-volley would become volley sur plage.
But at least using these will earn you the approval of France's culture minister Franck Riester, who this week has been urging French people to resist the lure of English phrases.
For more French phrases, check out our word of the day section.

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French Expression of the Day: Tarte à la crème

This expression is more than just your last order at the boulangerie.

French Expression of the Day: Tarte à la crème

Why do I need to know tarte à la crème ?

Because if someone uses this phrase to describe you, you should probably be a bit offended.

What does it mean?

Tarte à la crème – pronounced tart ah lah krem – literally refers to a cream filled tart, or a custard tart, in English. However, this expression has more to do than just baking. It is another way of describing something that is boring, predictable or commonplace.

This expression comes straight from Moliere himself. In the 17th century, there was a popular rhyming game called “Corbillon.” The phrase “Je vous passe mon corbillon” (I pass you by corbillon) is said, and then it is followed by “Qu’y met-on?” (What does one put on it?) To keep the rhyme up, people must respond with something ending in an -ON sound.

In the play, “L’Ecole des Femmes” (The School of Wives), one character says the ideal woman would respond to the question with “tarte à la crème” which is obviously the wrong answer. The right answer would be tarte à la citron (lemon tart). Molière did this on purpose to poke fun at the fact that disgruntled fans would send poor actors cream tarts to express their frustration.

It was a way of ridiculing his critics and showing he was unimpressed by their method of showing discontentment at his plays. Over time, the phrase went on to describe things that are commonplace or boring. It is often used to describe entertainment related topics, such as books, movies, or plays.

A synonym for this phrase in French might be banal and in English you might say something is ‘vanilla’ to describe something that is fairly unexciting.

Use it like this

Le film était vraiment tarte à la crème. Je ne recommande pas d’aller le voir au cinéma, vous pouvez attendre de le voir une fois qu’il sera gratuit en ligne. – The movie was really boring. I don’t recommend going to see it at the movies, you can simply wait to see it once it is free online.

Je pense que l’album est tarte à la crème. Elle a pris tellement d’idées d’autres artistes que ce n’est vraiment pas original du tout. – I think the album is predictable. She really took plenty of ideas from other artists and it was not original at all.