Posted by: kathandroger | May 24, 2013

A losing battle?

In the days of Mitterrand and Chirac the French language was fiercely defended. Any instance of an Anglicism finding its way into the Gallic tongue was immediately stamped out. As a student….some 30 years ago!… it was rare to find any signs of my mother tongue crossing the linguistic border. Today things couldn’t be more different. It is trendy to use English words.  All the programmes on the tele are at it. People say ‘bye’ instead of au revoir; ‘best of’ is often heard; ‘challenge’ seems more common than ‘defi’ etc etc. The business world, and above all the internet is responsible. And in the age of Facebook and Twitter it is starting to seem as though French is fighting a losing battle. This week there has been a big debate as to whether the top universities in France should start offering courses in English, to attract students from China, Korea et al. Indeed French is not even really the ‘diplomatic’ language of the world any more and when you look at the facts French lies back in about 15th place in terms of languages spoken, well behind the likes of Spanish, Arabic and Portuguese. Even German is more widely spoken.

We have just been away to Ile d’Oleron for a couple of days

IMG_2201 and were amused to read the translation of the hotel guide…

“The button ‘Powerful’. This functioning allows of booster rocket the heating or cold over a period of 20 minutes.”

“Ancient coast area contained by weak men in the 19th century to prevent floods.”

…It would be such a shame for the french to improve their grasp of English to the point at which we could no longer derive a certain amusement from such translations!


  1. Closer to home you cam enjoy the delights of ‘Muff of Duck’ in the Bialto at Loches.

  2. I had a very bad “fuel combustion of beef” in China once. I don’t recommend it…

  3. Hmmm, the morning after doesn’t bear thinking about!!

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