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In French print media, Anglicisms are 'le buzz'

Despite long being a bastion against foreign imports into the French language, French newspapers and magazines are undergoing 'un boom' in the use of Anglicisms.

By Beatrice MurailContributor / October 6, 2012



“Etes-vous un trader, une working girl successful, ou un web marketeur? Aimez-vous la Caesar salad, le fudge, et les grogs healthy?"

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It's not quite the French you learned at school, but more and more you'll find such Anglicisms in France's print media – despite its reputation of being more linguistically conservative than radio, TV, or the web.

An increasing number of English words are being used publicly despite the best efforts of the Académie française. Since the institution started working on its latest dictionary in 1986, with words like jogging, blue-jean, or ketchup becoming kosher, the French media has incorporated many more English words and la deep ecology, le it-bag, and le buzz now feature on magazine covers.

One of the reasons for this increase is access to the US way of life through the Internet by journalists who either don't find a proper translation or deliberately use the original as it sounds plus in, for instance westernization rather than occidentalisation. Until recently, garçon manqué would have been preferred to tomboy.

Historically, the French have put up resistance to Anglicisms, mainly through the Académie, set up in the 17th century by Richelieu, officially to help the French language cover the worlds of arts and science. But the rise of the Internet has submerged the Académie and rendered it powerless before this linguistic tsunami.

New information technology has brought along verbs such as podcasté, chatté, or tweaté. Designers have caught on the trend and websites created with French-language users in mind bear names such as free.fr, while young Christians are lured onto zebible.com.

A new wor(l)d

Business journalese is not immune: le big boss goes to un power breakfast for un brainstorming before un debriefing. People work in un open space, make des passion investments, and bow out because of le burnout – all a legacy of the jargon of US psycho-sociology used by human resource departments (le service du personnel itself has been replaced by les Ressources Humaines). Words have come up in news pages like best selleuse, killeuse, and DJette.

The entry on Anglicisms in the French version of Wikipedia is illustrated by examples from the news weekly Le Nouvel Observateur such as playmate, fitness, or shopping. French façon is passé: Un catwalk with des top models is the accepted jargon during une fashion week. French journalists may also have found it awkward to render concepts such as goodies, total look, or must have. And how do you translate bootylicious? Fashionese doesn't.

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