You’ve probably heard a French person say words like “hambourger” or “très cool” and laughed a little bit at the funny-sounding accent on your English words. Well, these aren’t just English words to the French – they’re anglicismes (anglicisms)!
An anglicism is a word that the French borrow from English and use instead of their native French word (usually with a strong French accent). Despite some strong finger shaking from the French government against this, the French use anglicisms regularly.
As an English-speaking American, I think it’s high time we started returning the favor and filling our English with a few French-Isms (plus, I already do it)!
Here are some of my faves:
Mange-ing (mahnJ-ing) – this is how I say “eating” 90% of the time. “I’m mange-ing on cheese, going to go mange at Bistro Vendome tonight, want to meat up for a quick mange?”
Manger (mahn-JHAY) is the French verb for “to eat” so I plop it into my English by adding English prefixes and suffixes. It’s so natural now that even my 100% anglophone friends have picked it up.
“What are you mange-ing there, Ems?”
Chez toi, chez moi, chez [someone] – “chez” (pronounced SHAY) is how you talk about someone’s place in French. “Chez moi” (MWAH) is “at my place,” “chez toi” (TWAH) is “at your place,” and “chez Danielle” would be “at Danielle’s place.”
You may have even heard this word before as many French bistros or café’s like to use the word. American eateries are sometimes called things like Annie’s Café or Pete’s Diner. French places will be called Chez Jacques or Chez Bernard for the same reason.
In any case, these phrases are fun to use in English because they come up a lot. “Want to get dinner chez toi?” or better yet… “want to mange chez toi?”
Bisous (bee-ZOO) – If you’ve watched the Mad Men episode where Megan sings “Zou Bisou Bisou” to Don, this word is for you. It literally means “kisses” in French, but French people throw it around as a “goodbye” as well. Think of it as the French version of “xoxo.”
In lieu of – this is a quick replacement for “instead” and already gets used pretty often in English. I just like to use as much French as I can, so it replaces “instead” in much of my dialogue.
ex. Do you want to try a Riesling in lieu of beer?
Pour-quwhy? – this is my variation on the French, “pour quoi?” which means “why” but word-for-word translates to “for what?”
Pour-quwhy is sort of a fun way of saying, “for why?” with a French twang.
à la – you’ve probably already heard of dessert à la mode, but “à la” can be used in many other contexts. Think of it as meaning, “in the way of…”
This blog, for example, teaches you to live life à la française (“in the way of the French”). You can make a joke à la Mindy Kaling or write children’s stories à la JK Rowling.
Play around with it!
Do you use any of these French-isms! Have others that you like to throw around? Let me know in the comments!