Friday, March 21, 2008

I Heart Franglais

English speakers in France have the enjoyable task of picking up new English-turned-French words and adding them to their vocabulary repertoire. It seems that "our" language is being mixed with "their" language at an ever-increasing speed. Not surprisingly, a lot of these words are connected to the new technologies that are created in the U.S. Internet, email, and even the verb surfer meaning to surf the web have all long since appeared in the daily lexicon. Others are more of a surprise, like rock star and best of, and they tend to pop up in the most surprising places.

I heard a good one in my early class today. It's a miracle I was even awake enough to catch it, but it was so unusual that it managed to pull me out of a serious bout of daydreaming. As the student was giving his presentation on government media outlets in Europe (you try staying awake for that at 8:00 am) he whipped out Ils se benchmarkent - pronounced eels suh benchmark - when talking about how...well I don't know what he was talking about, actually. But there it was, the verb se benchmarker. It was definitely a new one for me, and shows just how many English words are making the trip across the pond (and channel).

Now, some purists decry such an incursion. It's ruining the French language they say. But if that's true, then the French language only has itself to blame. I mean, which would you rather use, email or courrier électronique? Exactly. And besides, it's not like they're they only ones adopting foreign language elements into their own speech. English is chock-full of French words. Words like chic, à la carte, crème de la crème, and nouveau riche, just to name a few. Sharing is good, and it's only natural that as a population changes and adapts to the world around it, so too will the language. What's more, English words sound prettier when pronounced in the French style. Adding English words to the French language? C'est fun!

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