The French are very proud of their language. Because of this, for many years they have been doing their best to fight off an invasion of Anglo-Saxon words caused by English being widely used as the international language of business. Just as the French Resistance fought off the Nazis during WWII, its modern-day equivalent is engaged in an uphill battle to defend the French language against this English onslaught. The following is a list of twelve English terms that the French Ministry of Culture (MOC) would like to deport, along with the French words and phrases it wants the French people to use instead. Consider these phrases when beginning to localize in France.

1. Street

The French word for street is rue, and the MOC thinks that French people should not play sports such as street basketball and street football in a street. Anyone participating in these sporting activities should instead play basketball de rue and football de rue.

2. Beach

French people love to go to the beach, and many of them play beach volleyball, beach football, or beach cricket. However, these English terms are irritants to the French “language police.” The MOC wants the English word beach to be translated as sur le sable (literally on the sand). Although no arrests will be made, the French should be playing volley sur le sable or cricket sur le sable.

3. Binge Drinking

Binge drinking, especially among the college crowd, has long been associated with American culture, and the young people in France have started to join in. The MOC does not wish to rule on how many pints or glasses of vin a French student should drink after classes on a Friday night. However, it does insist that knocking back a considerable number of drinks be referred to as beuverie express.

4. Drop-Out

There has been much discussion in France about the rising numbers of drop-outs from French schools (écoles). The MOC thinks that the word drop-out should be dropped and replaced by the French word décrochage.

5. Silver Economy

In 2013, this phrase had the French Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, practically choking on his breakfast croissant. One of his ministers thought up the English term Silver Economy to describe an economic drive to group together businesses geared to older generations. Ayrault sent around a memo reminding ministers that French is the language of the Republic. There is a problem however, as the MOC has not yet been able to come up with an alternative expression.

6. Exit Tax

Many French people, for various reasons, have been upping sticks and leaving France recently. When they do, an exit tax is imposed on them. The MOC finds the French media’s use of the term exit tax troubling. So, if you are going to leave the country, you should not pay an exit tax but rather a taxe d’expatriation.

7. Carbon Offsetting, Carbon Compensation, Carbon Neutrality, etc.

Any environmental term incorporating the word carbon is proving troublesome for the stewards of the French language. As yet, the MOC has not been able to come up with a suitable alternative but, rest assured, they are getting their heads together (la réflexion est en cours) to find an answer.

8. Class Action

France has been considering introducing US-style class-action lawsuits into its legal system. These lawsuits allow groups of individuals to sue a defendant collectively. The MOC came up with a more gallic term that the French media could use – action de groupe.

9. E-Book

The MOC is not a big fan of e-books and might prefer that the French stop reading them altogether. However, they will allow French people to enjoy their commute to work more by reading a liseuse.

10. Cloud Computing

This is a relatively new English term that has been giving the “language police” fits. Cloud computing, which enables French people to share files and applications via the Internet, should be called informatique en nuage.

11. Crowd Funding

This is another fairly new English term relating to the collective effort of individuals to network and pool their money. The French language guardians don’t like it and want to replace it with financement participatif.

12. Hashtag

The MOC’s effort in 2013 to ban the English word hashtag drew both support and ridicule at home and overseas. However, the powers that be prefer that the French use mot-dièse instead.

How do You Localize for France?

If you are doing business in France, it is not required that you follow the guidelines of the French MOC. However, when translating your content from English into French, it might be advantageous to your marketing efforts to be aware of the national pride that the French have in their language. Localize is here to help you use French words and terms whenever possible and keep you out of the way of the French language guardians by partnering with our talented LSP’s. Contact us for more information.

  • The battle to safeguard the French language from the “predations” of English is ongoing – click here for some more English terms that L’Académie Française finds objectionable.