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French Words With No English Translation

10 Phrases That Make French a Language Worth Preserving

I don't like hearing about any languages disappearing, but the idea of French's demise seems intolerable. Fortunately, it is also probably impossible, at least in the near future, but French is a language in decline. Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) is an organization dedicated to promoting democracy, peace, and human rights in the 70 French-speaking countries and also to preserving the French language. Here are 10 words and phrases with no English equivalents that make the unmistakable case for Francais.

  1. Dépaysement: The sensation of being in another country.
  2. La douleur exquise: The heart-wrenching pain of wanting someone you can't have. Even a Sex and the City episode was named after it!
  3. Chomer: To be unemployed, but because it's a verb, it makes the state active.
  4. Profiter: To make the most of or take advantage of.
  5. Flaneur: As defined in the book Elegant Wits and Grand Horizontals, it's "the deliberately aimless pedestrian, unencumbered by any obligation or sense of urgency, who, being French and therefore frugal, wastes nothing, including his time, which he spends with the leisurely discrimination of a gourmet, savoring the multiple flavors of his city."
  6. Esprit d'escalier: The literal translation is staircase wit, but it means to think of a comeback when it's too late.
  7. Retrouvailles: The happiness of meeting again after a long time.
  8. Sortable: An adjective for someone you can take anywhere without being embarrassed.
  9. Voila/voici: It's so necessary that we use it all the time. "Voila" literally means "there it is" and "voici" means "here it is."
  10. Empechement: An unexpected last-minute change of plans. A great excuse without having to be specific.

Anything to add?

conechen113 conechen113 5 years
I want to go to Paris!
timogi timogi 5 years
Love the French language!!!
Laura-Marie-Meyers Laura-Marie-Meyers 5 years
So obsessed with this post! Have always been a huge fan of that SATC episode :)
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 7 years
The French language is so great, the same article about how great it is just *has* to be posted once every six months.
ShelleyHFan ShelleyHFan 7 years
Drat I forgot this: forums.about.com/ab-french/messages/?msg=2661.1 Very interesting things to say...
ShelleyHFan ShelleyHFan 7 years
french.about.com/cs/teachingresources/a/spanishiseasier.htm
ShelleyHFan ShelleyHFan 7 years
I LOVE French and I LOVE Spanish. I have to say that I hate when people put French on a pedestal and insult Spanish. I feel those people don't really 'get it.' They are probably confuse the many Spanish dialects with prejudices that they have (like French is for ___ and Spanish for gardiners...NOT TRUE). AND both are ROMANCE LANGUAGES with much to offer. Spanish isn't all about practicality either. There are many Spanish and French speakers for a reason. And just as France has this organization Spain has a similar one.
Cris1192 Cris1192 7 years
I don't know why French would go away, it's such a beautiful language
Beauty Beauty 7 years
I also love "chouette." And "vachement."
stephley stephley 7 years
Apparently you don't like stories disappearing either - you've posted this before.
briglass briglass 7 years
i like natural/descriptive attitudes when it comes to languages, as opposed to artificial/prescriptive. natural = a language should thrive because people use it and feel a need to use it or learn it (artificial = a language is imposed onto people by law or force) descriptive = a language's grammar, spelling and dictionary or lexicon should be nothing but a description of the language as it is used (prescriptive = a language whose grammar, spelling and lexicon are controlled and dictionaries are guides as opposed to records of use) french is very much a prescriptive language-- a committee oversees its use, and top-down effort is expended to ensure the language is used "properly". i believe all languages should be preserved as in they should be cataloged, recorded, and saved for academic uses and for posterity as for OIF, "The primary mission of the organization is the promotion of the French language as an international language" to me, this is an absurd motive. language promotes itself, naturally, and the idea that one would ever promote or prop up a language is artificial and disturbing to me. if a language dies, then it ought to die.
Advah Advah 7 years
Same as Karlotta!
French-Kiss French-Kiss 7 years
Ohh MsChoo "tu veux rire" is so cute, i love it too =) It's not so common anymore though, which is something i regret. (but you can use it anytime you want, it's just that french people have lost the habit of using it)
MsChoo MsChoo 7 years
In highschool my french teacher would always teach us french idioms like "Esprit d'escalier", they were always a treat aside from the regular vocab words. "Tu veux rire" is another of my favs.
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 7 years
Shayna I took a year of Spanish. With the growing Hispanic population, it's great to know some basic conversation, but what a huge waste of time. French has such a pleasing rhythm and soft sounds, it is very beautiful. I actually had trouble with the r's at first. How fortunate of you to go to Paris, I've always wanted to. Why did you come back? I wouldn't have.
pearsbeary pearsbeary 7 years
haha~ im going to france in 2 wks! maybe i'll get to use some of these!!
ShaynaLeah ShaynaLeah 7 years
Je ne sais quoi - I certain I don't know what - I took Spanish in high school and was miserable at it, but when I went to Paris in college French clicked for me - its a beautiful language!
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 7 years
girlgreen how naive of me, sorry. I am American, after all. Doesn't everything sound sexier in French though? I've dated guys before and vaguely mentioned knowing a little French, they ask me to say something sexy and I just ramble on about the weather. It turns them into putty every single time. I would 100% recommend learning it if you're considering it. I was intimidated by it at first just because of all the silent letters, but there's a pattern to it.
janneth janneth 7 years
Oui, I love French. More students should take it in school. Esprit d'escalier is the phrase I know the best, and it always happens to me. I want to be a flaneur in Paris.
reesiecup reesiecup 7 years
The French language is so beautiful. I don't think it'll die out like Latin. And even then, Latin is still being taught. I'm in the neophyte stages of learning French. Definitely a work in progress!
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