In 1873, in an essay titled « The Universality of the French Language », Antoine de Rivarol wrote « Ce qui n’est pas clair, n’est pas français ». He would have shuddered at some of today’s excesses.
The Local – which calls itself France’s news in English – publishes an occasional series on the French language. To mark World Dictionary Day on 16 October, it presented a selection of French words with a Franglais twist.
As an example The Local cited ménage a trois (three people living together) which becomes ménage a moi (living alone) when you end up going home alone in a taxi after spending a solitary night out in Paris. “Did you meet anyone last night? Yeah, but no luck. Another ménage a moi for me.”
Déja who: The sensation of meeting a French person at a soirée who you definitely remember meeting at a previous soirée, but whose name you’ve totally forgotten.
Crapéritif: When you go for an early evening drink at the house of French friends that turns into torture. No one talks to you because you don’t speak good enough French and can’t follow the conversation and you wish you were somewhere else.
Laissez-hair: The laid back approach some Parisian men have towards their hairstyles. Forget hair products, embrace the dishevelled laissez-hair look!
Flabattoir: After spending Christmas in France eating copious amounts of foie gras and chocolate log (separately, most likely) you vow to exercise in order to shed the extra pounds. “Oh I feel terrible, I’m going to have to spend the whole of January at the flabattoir.”
Mentello: The French intellectual, or “intello”, that you meet in a café on the Left Bank who turns out to be more mad than clever and you have to make a run for it.
Gone appétit: The exclamation for when a meal looks so unappetizing that you’re suddenly no longer hungry. Think tête de veau (calf’s brains), langue de boeuf (ox tongue) and andouillettes (pig’s intestines). “Oh dear, I really shouldn’t have chosen the tripe. Gone appetite, everyone!”
Paristocrat: A posh Parisian, most often found in the west of the city in an apartment with a view of the Eiffel Tower.
Périphéreeeeeeeek!: While Parisians happily use the word périphérique for the city’s crazy ring road where vehicles drive bumper to bumper, expats are more likely to refer to this noose around the neck of Paris as the “Periphereeeeeeek!” given how frightening it is to navigate.
De Rivarol died in exile and was buried in the Dorotheenstadt Cemetery in Berlin. He would be turning in his grave, although no one knows where it is – pour des raisons qui ne sont pas claires.