As with all languages, the French language has evolved in line with trends and cultural influences, whether on social networks, in the media or in everyday conversations. To decipher these linguistic trends and usages, Optilingua has put together a small overview of barbarisms, improprieties, clichés and other oddities and curiosities of the French language.
The improprieties of the French language
Impropriety refers to the incorrect use of a word or expression.
Here are some examples of common improprieties in French:
- “loin s’en faut” (instead of loin de là or de tant s’en faut)
- “faute d’attention” (instead of faute d’inattention)
- “tous et chacun”(instead of tout un chacun)
- “en tout et partout” (instead of en tout et pour tout)
Among the incongruities of the French language, we would like to also mention barbarisms and solecisms.
A barbarism is an unusual error, linked to the alteration of the form of a word, to its morphology (whether lexical or grammatical).
Here are some examples of curious barbarisms in the French language:
- “aréoport” (instead of aéroport)
- “enduire en erreur” (instead of induire en erreur)
- “tête d’oreiller” (instead of taie d’oreiller)
- “disgression” (instead of digression)
- “dilemne” (instead of dilemme)
- “il mourrira d’ennui” (instead of il mourra d’ennui)
- “infractus” (instead of infarctus)
- “assis-toi” (instead of assieds-toi)
- “l’eau bouille” (instead of bout)
- “asérique” (instead of astérisque)
A solecism is a syntactic misuse of a word, when the speaker does not respect the rules of syntax (as opposed to a barbarism, which only concerns the form of the word).
Here are some examples of solecisms in the French language:
- “bien qu’il est tard” (instead of bien qu’il soit tard)
- “le problème que je veux parler” (instead of le problème dont je veux parler)
- “se rappeler de quelque chose” (instead of se rappeler quelque chose)
- “aller au médecin” (instead of aller chez le médecin)
- “habiter sur Paris” (instead of habiter à Paris)
- “ce qu’il a besoin” (instead of ce dont il a besoin)
The clichés of the French language
There are also many clichés in the French language, which are used frequently by most French speakers. The term "poncif" is used to refer to the "ready-made" expressions that are overused.
Here are some examples of French language clichés that are found in everyday conversations, whether in a personal or professional context:
- “du coup”
- “en fait”
- “silence radio”
- “minimum syndical”
- “pas de soucis”
- “en dernière ligne droite”
- “aller vivre sur (une ville)”
- “monter à Paris”
- “descendre à l’hôtel”
- “avoir un coup de barre”
- “chercher midi à 14 heures”
- “ça fait un bail”
- “c’est dingue”
- “être au courant”
- “se tenir au courant”
- “ça me va”
- “si ça se trouve”
There are also many clichés in the press, such as:
- “même son de cloche”
- “avoir le vent en poupe”
- “à la loupe”
- “dans la tourmente”
- “ne connaît pas la crise”
Answers to your questions about the quirks of the French language
According to an article in the Journal du Dimanche, the expression that is most used in the press and media is "cerise sur le gâteau", followed by "le vent en poupe" and "à la loupe". The next most frequently used expressions are: "in turmoil", "langue de bois", "même son de cloche" and "tambour battant".
There are some subtle differences between barbarism, solecism and impropriety. An impropriety is an error related to the meaning of a word or group of words: the word chosen exists but is used in the wrong context or in the wrong way. A barbarism is an error related to the form of the word (for example, an error related to spelling or grammar, often perceptible in speech). A solecism is a syntactic misuse of a word: the construction of the sentence is thus completely distorted. This type of error has a major impact on the quality of a text and the fluidity of reading.
An Anglicism is a word or expression borrowed from the English language. English is a universal language, and English words can often be found in other languages. In French, there are many Anglicisms, of which the following are a few examples: scoop; cool; loser; live; spoiler; vintage; challenge; overbooked; customise; deadline; buzz; burn-out; pitch; best-seller; coach...
Add new comment