Bookshelp header image for page World Wide Words logo

Franglais

Pronounced /frɑ̃ɡlɛɪ/Help with pronunciation

The British humorist Miles Kington died on 30 January 2008. While working for Punch magazine in the 1970s, he wrote a regular weekly column, Let’s Parler Franglais!, short pieces pretending to be a course in basic French (“Teach yourself dans dix minutes. C’est un walk-over.”); these were published as a series of books from 1979 on. (He also produced a Latin Tourist Phrase Book that included such gems of mistranslation as ad hoc, wine not included, and ex cathedra, ruined church.)

The cover of Miles Kington's 'Let's Parler Franglais'

Though his is the name most closely associated with Franglais in the UK, he didn’t invent it. It was created in French in 1959 as a blend of Français and Anglais. It referred to the dilution of the purity of the French language through the uncontrolled introduction of such Americanisms (or what were considered to be Americanisms — we British were excused) as le weekend, le melting-pot, le snack-bar and le striptease. It first appeared in Parlez-vous Franglais, by Professor René Étiemble, then professor of comparative languages at the Sorbonne. “The French language is a treasure,” he wrote. “To violate it is a crime.”

In English, under the influence of writers such as Miles Kington, Franglais came instead to mean the macaronic mangling of the languages for humorous purposes. However, the genre, if we can dignify it by that name, goes back a lot further. Surtees had fun with it in Jorrock’s Jaunts and Jollities (1838): “‘Oui, Monsieur, cinq fois,’ repeated the Countess, telling the number off on her fingers — ‘Café at nine of the matin, déjeuner à la fourchette at onze o’clock, diner at cinq heure, café at six hour, and souper at neuf hour.’”

Share this page
Facebook Twitter StumbleUpon Google+ LinkedIn Email

Search World Wide Words

Support World Wide Words!

Donate via PayPal. Select your currency from the list and click Donate.


Buy from Amazon and get me a small commission at no cost to you. Select your preferred site and click Go!

OTHER WAYS TO HELP

Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 16 Feb. 2008

Advice on copyright

The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/weirdwords/ww-fra1.htm
Last modified: 16 February 2008.