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FRENCH LANGUAGE

The 8 Anglicisms that most annoy French language guardians

French language guardians the Académie française has issued a new report on institutional communication and taken aim at some of the most commonly-used Anglicisms that it regards as a 'veritable attack' on French.

'La French Tech' - a term that the Académie française is no big fan of.
'La French Tech' - a term that the Académie française is no big fan of. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP)

“In order that French Institutions Speak French”, reads the opening line of a new report from the Académie française, in thunderous capital letters.

The organisation has issued a damning verdict on the “massive use of English vocabulary” in institutional communications in France, describing this as a “veritable attack” on the French language. 

“By neglecting the cultural load of language, current communication puts the French lexicon in peril,” wrote the authors.

READ MORE Why are the French so protective of their language?

The Académie française, created in 1635, is charged with protecting and preserving the French language.

Its report has examined the use of English in institutional communication, from government, businesses and other organisations. 

“Using French vocabulary, French phrases, whatever the context, without blindly following fashion and trends, remains the best way to add value to French culture in the broadest sense, offering it support, visibility and a fighting chance facing the advance of globalisation,” it said. 

READ ALSO Health passport is feminine, rules French language guardians

The authors cite the following examples as “damaging” and “degrading” to the integrity of the French language: 

La French Tech

La French Tech is a term to describe the French start-up scene. The government – and president Emmanuel Macon – have been pushing French start-ups internationally since 2015, which is perhaps why they use this English-sounding label.

The strategy appears to be working – France now counts at least 26 start-ups known as unicorns (licornes), which means they are valued at more than $1 billion. 

It turns out that the Académie is really not a fan of the word ‘start-up’ either.  

TasteFrance

The Académie does not like the brand name, TasteFrance, given to a selection of French gastronomic products sold overseas in a scheme supported by the agriculture ministry. 

It also railed against Taste France magazine, Tastefrance.com, la Foodtech and le Paris Food Forum

FranceConnect

FranceConnect is a handy online platform through which you can access your Ameli (French public health system) account; your personal tax page; your profile with the French postal service and much more

Which it is convenient to access all these services at once, the Académie said the name is too English sounding. Even if connecter is an actual French verb. 

Made for Sharing

Paris will host the Olympic games in 2024. Much to the distaste of the Académie and politicians on the right of the political spectrum, the slogan itself will be in English: “Made for Sharing”.

The co-President of the Games, Tony Estanguet, said that the choice of an English slogan was designed to “give a universal character to the French project”. 

The slogan, L’Amour des Jeux (Love of the games), had reportedly been floated beforehand. 

Here We Com

A communications agency in the Savoy is named Here We Com. Despite the ingenious name and funky website, the Académie is not happy. 

Smart City

Smart city is a term that has been used by urban planners, academics and energy providers for years. EDF, the French electricity provider, defines it as “the fruit of many models and examples which slowly but surely define intelligent towns of tomorrow” and use the term in their advertisements. 

Not a smart move, according to the Académie

France is in the air

In 2014, Air France changed their slogan from Faire du ciel le plus bel endroit de la terre (To make the sky the most beautiful place on earth) to an English one: “Air France, France is in the air”. 

Not only is the latter phrase glib and unpoetic, but it has also drawn the wrath of the Académie

Playlist

No one really buys music any more, ever since the rise of the streaming service. 

The Académie singled out the French company Napster for using terms like streamez and playlist, in its promotional material. 

You can find the Académie’s  full list of taboo terms here

Member comments

  1. It’s about time these people moved into the 21st century and came to terms that all languages are a living thing and constantly evolve. I certainly don’t think that the French are so insecure that they are bothered by the introduction of a few English language terms.

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FRENCH LANGUAGE

The new French words added to the dictionary

The latest edition of France's Larousse dictionary set to be published this June, and it has announced it will add 150 new words.

The new French words added to the dictionary

Each year, France’s Larousse dictionary holds up a mirror to society, showing its evolution by making official the words and phrases that were most important in the year previous. This year, in preparation of its 2023 edition, the dictionary added 150 new words, which according to the publishing company, “testify to both the vitality and diversity of the French language.”

These are the words that have gotten people talking the most:

Covid long

After over two years of Covid-19, it is not surprising that a number of coronavirus-related words have entered the dictionary. “Covid long” refers to the condition of lingering Covid-19 symptoms, sometimes for weeks or months after infection. Other Covid-19 related words and phrases that are now included in the Larousse are: passe vaccinal (vaccine pass), passe sanitaire (sanitary pass), vaccinateur or vaccinatrice (vaccinator), vaccinodrome (vaccine center), and distanciel (at a distance).

Wokisme

The noun “wokisme,” which made headlines and sparked controversy this past year, is now defined by the Larousse as follows: “Woke-inspired ideology, centered on questions of equality, justice and the defense of minorities, sometimes perceived as an attack on republican universalism.”

Le séparatisme

Another word reflective of the political climate in France, “Séparatisme” has been added to the dictionary under the definition “the will of a minority, usually religious, to place its own laws above national legislation.” A lot of times, you will see this word in debates surrounding religion and immigration.

Grossophobie

Grossophobie” is defined as “a hostile, mocking and/or contemptuous, even discriminatory, attitude towards obese or overweight people.” In English, this word is “fatphobia.”

NFT

The rise of tech and all things crypto is not specific to the anglophone word. Now, the English acronym, NFT, has made its way into the French dictionary, defined in French as “Les jetons non fongibles” (Non-fungible tokens). 

l’Halloumi

Finally, the Larousse dictionary added plenty of words with non-French origins, like “Halloumi” which is a type of cheese made from mixed goat and sheep’s milk that is originally from Cyprus.

The Larousse 2023 will also include other new words from different foreign languages, like konjac (a Japanese plant), kakapo (a New Zealand parrot), tomte (a Swedish elf) and yodel (a singing technique from the German-speaking Alps).

These are just a few of the 64,000 words that will be included in the 2023 version of the dictionary.

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