Despite France’s culture of linguistic conservatism and the pre-eminent Académie Française, with its immortels (“immortals”) — the gatekeepers of officialdom for all pertaining to the French language — English and other foreign words have slowly crept into the French vernacular. Last week, Le Petit Robert and Le Petit Larousse, France’s premier dictionaries, gave a sneak peek of the additions to their 2015 editions, scheduled for release this coming June.
These latest editions have embraced a number of new terms, from anglicisms to slang, to regional expressions, but the most notable advancement has been an emphasis on tech terms, resulting in what some are claiming is a “Californication” of the language. Whereas France had long made an effort to develop French equivalents for English terms relating to rapidly emerging technology (such as logiciel for software), it seems that these protectionist measures are slowly dissolving.
Indeed, the forthcoming year’s editions have finally — grudgingly — accepted “hashtag,” where mot-dièse had formerly been anointed as the official French translation. Other notable additions borrowed from Silicon Valley include cyberattaque, selfie, se loguer (to log in), and troll. If you are interested in expanding your French vocabulary with some words hot off the press, keep reading.
ARGOT (Slang) and VERLAN (Inverse)
There are a few interesting slang additions — although one wonders whether these can truly be considered slang anymore, in view of the fact that they are now “official” French words.
The verlan of lobos (lobotomized), this is someone who is naive and easily tricked, a loser.
Ex. Tu vas finir boloss.
You’re going to end up a loser.
Taffer: To work
Ex. Je dois taffer demain.
I have to work tomorrow.
Zlataner: To dominate
Derived from the name of Swedish soccer star, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the relationship is easily recognized.
Ex. Tu vas zlataner la course.
You’re going to kill the race.
Barista: With the advent of Starbucks in France and the growing creative cafe culture, this term has come to replace the more generic seveur or barman.
Bistronomie: A French gastropub with reinvented, more sophisticated renderings of traditional bistrot or brasserie fare.
Burger: The abbreviated form of le hamburger has finally gained acceptance.
Procrastiner: This anglicism means, apparently, that you can now wait until the eleventh hour in French as well.
Vapoter: To smoke an e-cigarette, as opposed to fumer for a traditional cigarette.
Ecoresponsable: Someone who is eco-conscious, a day-to-day environmentalist.
Lapette: A watered-down coffee.
Une molière: A type of shoe known as an Oxford in English and already called a Richelieu in French, now you can choose to qualify your footware depending on your preference for literary vs. political inclinations.
Nominette: The name stitched into the smocks of school-aged children.
Le Petit Robert is already is already on shelves with its 150 new words, while Le Petit Larousse will be released June 5th, with a special 110th anniversary edition designed by fashion designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac. With one edition of the Le Petit Larousse illustré being sold per minute around the world, should you choose to grab your own copy, you certainly won’t be alone.
For more of the words now part of the French dictionary see the full list of Le Petit Robert.