Monday, January 17

Culture. These ten French words that English speakers steal from us… and envy us

This weekend, are you going to read a bestseller before eating a sandwich in a fast food restaurant and then going shopping for shampoo and chewing gum? We sometimes speak more Franglais than French, but the good news is that we are not the only ones to do this! Anglophones also have a tendency to “Frenglish”. Here are ten words that they steal from us, either because they sound so French and so chic, or because they simply don’t exist in the language of Shakespeare.

1. A la carte

If in French, we steal from English all the words relating to new technologies or the Internet (“smartphone”, “software”, “download”…), English speakers also have their favorite fields to dig into the language of Moliere. And the kitchen is one of them. If you go to a rather pompous restaurant in the United States, you might not need to know the country’s language to understand what’s on the menu. English speakers eat “hors d’oeuvres” (meaning “starter”) and “crème brûlée”, or say “to sauté” to “sauté”. It is therefore quite natural that to say that a dish is on the menu they say “à la carte”.

2. Gourmet

Moreover, speaking of cuisine, the concepts of “gourmand” and “gourmet” do not exist in English as we know them in French. Gluttony as one of the seven sins is translated as “gluttony”. On the other hand, the fact of saying that a dish is “particularly greedy”, or that someone is “more gourmet than greedy”, does not make sense for English speakers. They simply borrow the word “gourmet” to designate a refined dish or a person who has delicate culinary tastes.

3. I don’t know what

After cooking… romanticism! Anglophones go on “dates” with the person who may become their “fiancee”. If we say that Paris is the city of love, they tend to consider French to be the language of romance. So to evoke this indescribable feeling that a person can make us feel, what better than the noun “je-ne-sais-quoi”?

4. Couture

Paris is the city of love, but also of fashion! In ready-to-wear and haute-couture, many terms are borrowed from French, such as a “corset”, “lingerie”, or even a ” french dress (Marie-Antoinette style). If couture is translated by “sewing”, haute couture is said… “couture”.

5. Premiere

In the same way that the “haute” of “haute-couture”, although essential in French to understand what we are talking about, disappears in English, in the field of cinema, English speakers say “premiere” for a “preview” . Which is inconsistent with the French meaning, since precisely, the preview is so called because it takes place before the first screening…

6. Again

As long as we are in the field of “show business”, let us now move on from cinema to theatre. Where the French shout “bis!” » or speak of an « encore » when it comes to bringing the star back on stage after the end of the show, English speakers call it an « encore ».

7. Deja vu

Some terms correspond to a concept that only exists in one language, and this is the case of a “deja-vu feeling”. Rather than bothering with a translation, English speakers therefore use the French word as it is to express the fact of having the feeling of reliving a situation. On the other hand, the use of the two accents and the pronunciation of the “U” sound are often approximate…

8. Entrepreneur

If English has several words to say “a company”, it is the French term that is used to designate the person who creates his company. Entrepreneurship is even translated as “entrepreneurship”. On the other hand, the feminine “entrepreneur” is not used, since the names of professions are epicene in English. The most absurd thing is that in French, we are sometimes tempted to replace the word “entrepreneur” by… “businessman”.

9. Cliché

If the word “cliché” has two meanings in French, that of a photo and that of a stereotype, the term is only used in English according to this second definition. As a bonus, don’t forget the pronunciation in “clichey”, because English speakers are no better than us at respecting the sound of words in the other language.

10. That’s it

And here is perhaps the most classic of “Frenglish” words. It is an exclamation that we often hear in English. However, English speakers never use it to say “here’s someone”, but only as “Tadam!” “.

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