The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'french'
In France, the Academie Française carefully curate the language, meticulously pruning loanwords and replacing them with French neologisms (i.e., logiciel for software, and, less successfully, courriel for e-mail). Across the border, the Germans take a different approach, and actually have a competition for the best English loanword each year, the Anglizismus des Jahres. Last year, the winner was "shitstorm", which follows 2010's "leaken".
Borrowing words from English is somewhat of a tradition in Germany; the most (in)famous example is the German colloquial word for mobile phone, "handy".
The Académie Française, the guardians of the integrity of the French language, recently held a "festival of new words", a competition in which the public were invited to suggest new French words, with the Académie choosing winners; the results are in:
The winner was attachiant(e) – a combination of attachant (captivating, endearing) and the slang word chiant (bloody nuisance) to denote someone you cannot live with but cannot live without.
Someone had also come up with the verb textoter (to write SMS messages on a mobile telephone), presumably something last year's winner, a phonard – a pejorative term for someone who is glued to their mobile phone – does all the time.
Previous festivals have thrown up gems including ordinosore (ordinateur plus dinosaur, an out-of-date computer), bonjoir (bonjour plus bonsoir, a greeting to be said around midday), and photophoner (to take a photo with a mobile phone).Of course, whether the winners make it into the official draft of the French language is another matter; while the Académie may unilaterally coin indigenously French neologisms, getting people to use them is another matter. (The Académie's word for electronic mail, courriel, seems to have been unsuccessful, with the anglicism "e-mail" instead gaining currency.) Chances are this contest is intended more to promote experimentation with the expressive possibilities of the French language.
French slang word of the day: "Yaourt":
['Yaourt' ("Yoghurt")] is the word used to describe the practice of singing along to tracks in English, usually with an unconvincing American accent, when you have absolutely no idea of the words. Yoghurt doesn't have to be English, it only has to sound English. Singing along to ‘I Want To Break Free’ in Yoghurt would sound something like this: ‘I wo' do' bek fee.’ Sit on the Métro and you'll hear plenty of amateur French R'n'B singers doing ‘Papa gode a ban noo bang’ in perfect Yoghurt. There are even current French expressions derived from Yoghurt. My favourite is ‘C'est la waneugaine’ — a bizarre distortion of the English, once again — meaning it's crazy or outlandish.(from Lucy Wadham, The Secret Life of France, p84)
Spare a thought for Mark Boyle, the 28-year-old English hippie who planned to walk from Bristol to India without any money for world peace or something similar, subsisting only on the charity of strangers. Alas, it was not to be, and Mr. Boyle gave up his quest at Calais after his lack of money and inability to speak French caused the locals to think of him as a free-loader or an asylum seeker.
Not one to be easily dissuaded by the cold hard impact of reality, Mr. Boyle has strategically downsized his plans to a walk around the coast of Britain, learning French as he goes, for another attempt in future.
A Times columnist's take on France24 and those silly French people:
Since, alongside the news , the new state-funded France 24 channel sees itself as an ambassador for the French "art de vivre" (French for "way of life") and for its "savoir faire" ("rural snail-tasting festivals"), the channel launched at 7.29 GMT yesterday evening -- presumably in order to allow staff and viewers to first knock back a couple of reviving Pernods after their return from the traditional Gallic post-work/pre-dinner bout of hanky-panky ("mouchoir-pouchoir").
That means that at the time of writing, we don't actually know what the opening headlines were. But we might guess they were something along the lines of, "Iraq, c'est encore un grand mess, n'est-ce pas?" (literally, "That George Bush is a dork, isn't he?"); And "L'Angleterre evidemment a une équipe de cricket qui joue comme un bunch de garçons de Nancy -- pas, obvieusement, notre Nancy en Lorraine!"); though maybe not, "Et maintenant, les actualités chaud directe de Rwanda ...").
France 24 is basically a TV channel for a nation that is annoyed that it has failed to persuade the rest of the world to speak French rather than English (apart from -- and this really embarrasses them -- the word gauche, which is the universally used term for "Donald Rumsfeld").Aside: I wonder which variant of English France24 will use: whether it'll be broadcast in the Commonwealth English of their ancient adversaries and fellow EU members across la Manche, or the American English of their former revolutionary protegés and historical friends, recently seen eating Freedom Fries and putting "First Iraq, then France" bumper stickers on their Hummers.
Not that long after al-Jazeera launched its defiantly postcolonial English-language news channel, another player is entering the market; France 24 will be a 24-hour news channel, funded by the French government and a French private TV network, and broadcasting in French and English (with Spanish and Arabic to be added later).
France 24 can be viewed through its web site (if you have Windows Media installed), and will be available on cable TV. Its mission is, in its own words, "to cover worldwide news with French eyes"; the channel insists its editorial policy will be independent of the French government (though, in either case, you'd expect them to say so).
Recently discovered courtesy of 3RRR's International Pop Underground: this gem.
A lengthy compedium of essentialist explanations of various languages:
English is essentially bad Dutch with outrageously pronounced French and Latin vocabulary. --Eugene Holman
Australian English is essentially Cockney without the refinement. -- Öjevind Lâng
Swedish, Norwegian and Danish are actually the same language. It's just that the Norwegians can't spell it, and the Danes can't pronounce it. --Chlewey
Yiddish is essentially the Ebonics of German. --submanifold
Dutch is essentially English spoken whilst stoned, which pretty much explains all the double vowels --Keith Gaughan
French is essentially a language that elides everything that doesn't get out of the way fast enough, and nasalises everything else. --Peter Bleackley
Brazilian is essentially a conlang created by people who wanted to have sex all the time, but still be able to talk about everyday things. --alleszermalmer
Romanian is essentially a Romance language trying really hard to blend in with the Slavic languages around it. --Jesse S. Bangs
Romanian is essentially French pronounced as written. --Christian Thalmann
German and Polish are essentially the same, only there are too many "ß"s in Leftoderian writing, and too many "z"s in Rightoderian. --Andreas Johansson
Breton is essentially Welsh with all the consonants changed to "z". --Thomas Leigh
Welsh is essentially the only language that can have four consecutive L's. --Danny Weir
Star Trek is essentially a religion for secular humanists, and Klingon is its Latin. --Jeffrey Henning
(via bOING bOING)
Stupidity of the day: a nightclub night, advertised on the front of a street paper from a few weeks ago, calling itself "Le Belle Donne". If they're going to act all sophisticated and Frenchified, it would help if they actually got the word genders right.
A useful list of smutty phrases in French (cut out and keep in wallet or purse): (via MeFi)
English: "I don't give a shit!"
French: Je m'en bats les couilles
Literal translation: "I slap my balls against it!"
Not all that far away from "I unclog my nose towards you, sons of a window dresser!"
A NYTimes article about Verlan, a French argot spoken by immigrants and countercultural hipsters, in which words are arbitrarily reversed. I suppose it's sort of like a French equivalent of Palare, the English gay/carnival argot.
Thus the standard greeting "Bonjour, ça va?" or "Good day, how are you?" becomes "Jourbon, ça av?" "Une fête" (a party) has become "une teuf"; the word for woman or wife, femme, has become meuf; a café has become féca; and so on. The word Verlan itself is a Verlanization of the term l'envers, meaning "the reverse."
Originally a criminal argot in the 19th century, Verlan was adopted by second-generation immigrants after World War 2, and now by bourgeois trendies and rebellious teens. Perhaps not a small part of its countercultural appeal is going against the mainstream dogma of linguistic purism and sticking it to the Académie Française.
Ms. Lefkowitz explained: "There are now different kinds of Verlan. There is the Verlan of the original group, the working class immigrants from the banlieus. Then there is the Verlan of the urban professionals, bourgeois Verlan or `Verlan geoisbour.' There is also the Verlan of the teenagers who use it to distinguish themselves from the adult word as a game and a form of amusement."
An article from The Age about Stereolab, who are touring this week.
"We are sometimes asked to re-record French songs in translation, usually for commercial reasons; day-time radio won't play anything foreign. But we really can't see the point. It's ridiculous - most English pop songs don't make much sense anyway.