Gratuitous French

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"Morticia! That's French!"
"Pretentious? Moi?"
—"Two word joke" of unknown origin, but popularized by Miss Piggy.

From time to time, characters who want to be seen as très intelligents add un peu de français to their speech, n'est-ce pas?

This may be because of a, a, a certain je ne sais quoi, or because French is just--Quel est le mot juste?--cool. And don't forget that French used to be the lingua franca of the Western world; educated people would learn it to talk to other educated people, possibly about how uneducated everyone who didn't speak French was. (Now that English has more or less become the new universal language, the trope is often used to underscore the kind of pretentious bohemian character who lives in a world of their own and has no idea how reality works.)

However, native French-speakers usually use English words for the same reason.

Note that this trope's raison d'être is for people to appear sophisticated. Pepé Le Pew wouldn't fit here, as he's Faux French instead.

The linguistics blog Notes From A Linguistic Mystic has a name for this--Unnecessary French Syndrome.

Check Trope Names From the French and the Dictionnaire Provisoire for les schémas de noms francophones.

Contrast Gratuitous English, which is used in France to sound, comme les anglais disent, "cool".


Des exemples de français injustifié incluent:

Des Généralités[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The majority of examples of It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY" are based on French pronunciation of non-French words, including the title if you want to spell it with an accent.
  • Commonly seen in Quebec due to the province's language laws, leading to, for instance, Italian or Asian restaurants advertising their French names and signage in English-language ads running on Plattsburgh/Burlington or Ottawa (or English Quebec) TV stations, since Anglophones have to find the place in French.
    • Justified in Ottawa, where (for example) Laurier Street and rue Laurier are on opposite sides of the Ottawa River.
  • German has many French loanwords, often with the spelling "Germanized". (friseur --> Frisör; bureau --> Büro; meuble --> Möbel)
  • The English language itself uses a lot of words that are either French or of French origin, due to the Norman invasion, 1066, Battle of Hastings and all that.
  • As said in the introduction, French used to be the lingua franca of the Western world. It was mostly spoken by educated and noble people. For example: Beef is the culinary name for bovine and cattle meat. Beef comes from "Boeuf". This is due to the fact that those who had enough money to buy and cook beef were mostly rich and noble, so they spoke french and didn't use the common name of the animal (cow, bull, etc...).
  • During some historical periods, French became so dominant among European nobility and academic circles that it often replaced the native languages in public conversation. For example, when King Gustav III of Sweden was shot in 1792 (in Sweden, surrounded by Swedes) his reaction was: "Ah! Je suis blessé. Tirez-moi d'ici et arrêtez-le". (I am wounded. Pull me out of here and stop him.)
    • Indeed, England's national motto is "Dieu et mon Droit." (God and my Right) Yes, the motto of England, as well as the English Sovereigns, is in French.
  • In Flanders (the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium) it is still common for people who consider themselves to be upper class to speak French amongst each other. Most other people look down on the bourgeoisie for that.
  • Anthropologie (aside from its name) tends to sell products with nonsensical French brand names like "Moulinette Soeur" (Little-Windmill Sister)

Les Dessins Animés Occidentaux[edit | hide]

  • The Simpsons loves to go about Frenchifying the characters' dialogue. Bart, for example, once described his mischief as being "Bartesque" (which is actually a "Franglish" neologism, but we'll let it slide). When taking the family to see an artsy-fartsy French-Canadian circus, Lisa mentions that "We've had tickets since septembre!" (which, if you're curious, is pronounced something like "set-OM-brrr"). And Marge actually once said "Tres bien" after hearing a menu item described to her by a waiter - somewhat justified since she's in a fancy restaurant, and really justified when you remember that Marge's family (the Bouviers) are of French ancestry.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has this quite a bit.
    • Fluttershy's rant about Rarity's dress in "Suited For Success" has her use the phrases prêt-à-porter and haute couture – both of which are terms used in English to describe particular types of fashion, but they have do English equivalents ("ready-to-wear" and "high fashion", respectively).
    • The voice Pinkie Pie gives Madame LeFlour ("her" name itself an example) in "Party of One". "Oui! Zat eez correct, madame."
    • Happens again in "The Cutie Pox" when Apple Bloom suddenly gets a Fleur-de-Lis cutie mark, causing her to speak French.

Applejack: My sister's talkin' in Fancy!

    • "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000" has the Flim Flam Brothers refer to themselves as traveling salesponies nonpareils.

Les Animés japonaise et les Mangas[edit | hide]

  • Arumi's father from Abenobashi Mahou Shoutengai quite often uses this trope as he's a chief who specializes in French cuisine.
  • Much of the music Yoko Kanno provided for Cowboy Bebop is in a weird French-ish language of her own design. Notable tunes in that language include "Cats on Mars".
    • In fact, the lyrics of the song "Fantaisie Sign", sung by Carla Vallet, are 100% French. The lyrics, however, are a Narm sandwich covered with Narm sauce, which may actually make the song even cuter.
    • The song "Valse de la Lune" from the Wolf's Rain soundtrack is also completely in French.
  • In the Magical Heart Kokoro-chan OVA, Setsuna (who leaves to study abroad in the main series) plays the part of a mad scientist with a penchant for French phrases.
  • In GaoGaiGar Final, after literally burning Mikoto due to her overheating body, Rune Cardiff Shishioh just walks off saying "Nice to meet you" in French ("Bonjour. Merci. Comment allez-vous?"[1]). She also adds "Au Revoir" in Super Robot Wars W.
  • Maria Watches Over Us is full of this.
    • Worse: In the omake Yumi's seiyuu pronounces "(Rosa foetida) en bouton" better than Yoshino's, who "corrects" her, since she is supposed to be bilingual French-Japanese. Well, supposed to be.
    • Likewise, Strawberry Panic has this all over the place. Tamao often cites brutal Flench phrases related to the Etoile system. (Fortunately, most of the girls at least say "Étoile" passably.) French is actually a required subject at Miator, but this hasn't helped Shizuma and Rokujou's pronunciation much; pity poor Nagisa, who's getting extra help from them.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Jean-Pierre Polnareff loves using these, especially if there's a lady around.
  • Tomo in Azumanga Daioh speaks French on occasion, such as when she described Osaka's yawn as "très bien".
    • In addition, one of Kaorin's character songs is called "Kaze no Mon-Ami" ("my friend, the wind") and in Chiyo's song "Sarabai! Happy Hen" she greets the moon with a bonsoir.
  • Napoleon (a.k.a. Bonaparte) in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX peppers his speech with rather poor French phrases.
  • Kuroi Tatsuki in Super GALS!! Kotobuki Ran uses a few French words.
  • One Piece character Sanji has Gratuitous French in his attack names (all of which are cuisine-based), though most of them were mangled in the English dub.
  • Tamaki from Ouran High School Host Club is half-French, half-Japanese, and loves to say how Kyouya is "[son] ami!!!!" With the tonic accent on "a" instead of "mi". French speakers appreciate the subtitles.
    • Then again, the rhythm he was singing to didn't allow much of a change in pronunciation. Plus it was adorable.
    • IIRC, subverted for the anime-only character Eclair who only spoke Japanese despite the fact she is actually FROM France and didn't explain how she can speak fluent Japanese like a native.
  • The anime Gankutsuou has some French at the beginning of each episode. Somewhat Justified since it is based on The Count of Monte Cristo, a French novel by Alexandre Dumas, and is mostly set in France.
    • Perfect French, grammatically speaking. Since this French-speaking Troper know how evil French pronunciation can be, especially for Japanese, the rest is forgivable.
  • In the English dub of the Fruits Basket anime, there is a line shouted by either Shigure or Ayame[please verify] that sounds suspiciously like the French equivalent of "THE AIRPLANE! WHERE IS THE BATHTUB?"
    • In the original Japanese, they shout "Je t'aime, mon amour! Bon voyage!" -- "I love you, my love! have a nice trip!"
  • Taki from Eyeshield 21 calls people "monsieur" for some reason.
  • Most of the track titles on the Rebuild of Evangelion soundtracks are in French. Either that or they're a mess of numbers, letters, and underscores.
  • If you pause the player at the beginning of the fourth episode of Zero no Tsukaima, you can read the letter to the principal. While it's not exactly bad French, the grammar is a bit off sometimes.
  • Fantina from the Pokémon anime peppers her speech with French phrases in the English dub. In the original Japanese she peppers her speech with English instead.
    • Cabernet/Burgundy from Black and White does this quite often, often times coming with a Bilingual Bonus. Just about every other word of hers is in French.
    • This also reveals that Cilan speaks French as well, most notably during their tasting time duet. They shot off back and forth either speaking in figurative English or French.
  • Di Gi Charat: So gratuitous, translators don't even realize it's meant to be French.
  • Sherry Leblanc from Yu-Gi-Oh 5D's. Her name is bad enough, but her cae monster's name is "Fleur de Chevalier", which (because it is grammatically incorrect) literally means "Flower of Knight" "Fleur du Chevalier" is the correct name. The English game translates it as "Chevalier de Fleur", or (again, due to grammar) "Knight of Flower".
  • A Japanese CD called Sailor Moon Super S in Paris is made of this trope. The lyrics are nonsense most of the time, being versions of the Japanese lyrics with French peppered in.
  • The Five Star Stories features this when Lachesis' true form is revealed.
  • Let's not forget La Fillette Révolutionnaire Utena.
  • In the English translation of Oh My Goddess (but not the original Japanese), Peorth is prone to using Gratuitous French.

Les Bandes Dessinées dans les Journaux[edit | hide]

  • Roz Chast drew "The Man who was Admired for his Lack of Lack of Pretense", depicting a man decked out in smoking jacket, ascot and cigarette holder, in his apartment scattered with objets d'arte on pedestals - he's saying to us "Let's only speak French for a while."


Les Bandes Dessinées sur le Net[edit | hide]

  • Aimee Mouffette from Monsterful, justified since she seems to come from a fictional version of Paris, the monster city of Vamparis, in other words she's french so to speak.
  • From Girl Genius, Gilgamesh Wulfenbach spent some time in Paris and thus is fluent in French. He doesn't usually put Gratuitous French in his speech, but there was this one time he was delirious...

Gil: Pardonnez-moi, Monsieur, mais où est la catastrophe ?


Le Cinéma[edit | hide]

The Merovingian: "Château Haut-Brion 1959, magnificent wine, I love French wine, like I love the French language. I have sampled every language, French is my favourite - fantastic language, especially to curse with. Nom de Dieu de putain de bordel de merde de saloperie de connard d'enculé de ta mère. It's like wiping your ass with silk, I love it."

    • For French Cursing 101 and an analysis of this sentence, just check here.
    • This is easily the Merovingian's, the whole movie's) Crowning Moment of Awesome. Just watching that scene is like wiping your ass with silk.
    • In the french version of the movie, the Merovingian still speaks French. (Cue most French viewers almost expecting the characters to look at each other, giggle and go, "Yeah... And?")
  • Spoofed in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery: "He has what the French call a certain... I don't know what."
    • Fridge Brilliance: "je ne sais quoi", used to mean "An intangible quality that makes something distinctive or attractive" in English directly translates to "I don't know what" in French.
  • In The Addams Family, Gomez goes wild with passion whenever Morticia speaks French.
  • Intolerable Cruelty: Heinz, the Baron Krauss Von Espy says Marilyn Rexroth (played by Catherine Zeta-Jones) asked him for "a man whom she could herself brazenly cuckold, until such time as she might choose to, we would say, 'faire un coup de marteau sur des fesses.'" (Intended translation: nail his ass; actual literal translation: do a hammer blow on butts.)
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail: "Fetchez la vache".
    • Note that "Fetchez" is not an actual verb, but that was probably on purpose. And it's still shorter than the proper French for it ("Amenez la vache" or "Allez chercher la vache").
  • In Eve's Bayou, the characters often speak in French or Creole because it takes place in Louisiana.
  • In Trading Places, when Eddie Murphy's character is confronted in a bar and is called a motherfucker, he responds with "Motherfucker? Moi?".
  • The title of Hot Shots! Part Deux.
  • The Trading Places example above gets a Shout-Out in Terminator 2: Judgment Day as a young John Connor enquires: "Dipshit? Did you just call moi a dipshit?"
  • To get the effect of French Creole speakers in The Feast Of All Saints without using subtitles, the characters speak predominately English with French accents, liberally sprinkled with French/Creole.
  • It's generally the opposite in Canada where French Canadians have traditionally been an underclass. This leads to an inversion in The Rocket when the Anglophone coach congratulates his Francophone players for winning the Stanley Cup in French. It's seen as a surprising moment of him lowering himself to show his appreciation.


La Comédie[edit | hide]

  • Eddie Izzard. Fluent in French, he has been known to perform his stand-up specials in French for French-speakers, and frequently includes segments in French in front of English-speaking audiences. Same goes for German, but that's a different trope.
    • "Ou est la plume de mon oncle?" "La plume de mon oncle est bingy bongy dingy dangy..."
      • "By the way, if you don't speak French, then all that was fucking funny"
  • Averted by George Carlin during the introduction to his album Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics, where he makes a point to tell us that he will not be using the French adverb très to modify any English words.


Les Jeux Vidéo[edit | hide]

  • Mid-Boss from Disgaea is fond of using "moi" in place of "me" during his dramatic speeches, simply because it sounds exotic.
    • The original script had him using Gratuitous English as well, which obviously wouldn't work if translated literally.
    • He uses Gratuitous French in the original script as well, saying "Mademoiselle".
  • Mitsuru Kirijo of Persona 3 is prone to dropping a phrase or two at times, at least in the English dub. Then again, considering that she's the girl with the highest marks in school, she might actually know a fair bit of French.
    • "'Tray ben?' What does that mean? That's not English is it?"
    • The French exchange student, on the other hand, spouts Gratuitous Japanese. Go figure.
    • Akihiko gets in on the action in the PSP remake.
  • Kindle from Advance Wars
  • Not-gay-at-all chef Jean Armstrong speaks almost exclusively in these in the third Ace Attorney game. Played with when he begins to break down on the stand—he throws "Por favor" into the mix, only to find out that The Judge speaks Spanish and calls him on it.
    • Of course, he mostly adds "le" before nouns, even nouns that are feminine in French.
  • Waka in Okami uses French cliché phrases from time to time in the American translation. In the original Japanese version, he used Gratuitous English, but that wouldn't have translated well.
  • Ruby Heart in Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Or at least it's supposed to be French. You can barely tell.
  • Fantina speaks gratuitous French in the English version of Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum. In the original Japanese version, her name was Melissa and she spoke gratuitous English.
  • The Belgian Jeanette "Angel" Devereaux of the Wing Commander series often inserts French words and phrases into her speech, (for example, "Oui, mon colonel") and commonly refers to people as "monsieur" or ("mademoiselle" for Spirit).
  • The Spy in Team Fortress 2 uses a heavy French accent and numerous gratuitous French lines (and one or two Gratuitous Spanish lines as well). As part of a running development theme, his lines have numerous grammar errors ("ma petit chou-fleur" would be used to refer to a man, not a woman), and his voice actor isn't French.
  • One of the preps in Bully refers to himself as nouveau riche because he's ashamed to admit that his father is a self-made man.
  • Segundo from Beyond Good and Evil mixes Gratuitous French, Gratuitous Spanish, and Gratuitous Italian in a fairly random way.
    • The best part is that he doesn't just do so in English. The other dubs also portray him with a strange mishmash of accents and vocabulary, but with bonus Gratuitous Anglicisms, too!
  • In the instruction manual for Brutal Legend, the description for a Grim Reaper unit lists a number of synonyms for death, including "petite mort", which is literally French for "little death". Unfortunately (or possibly intentionally), it's also an idiom for "orgasm", which is hopefully not related to the monster in question.
  • "Bonjour! My name's Billy Jean Blackwood!"
  • The Coin Block people in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story speak in a French accent in the English versions, and speaks France French in the Canadian French version (In all other versions, including the original, he is stereotypically English though in vastly different ways). Broque Monsieur might count as a French Jerk in that he hates Mario for "lowering the value" of Blocks and will tell him to scram if he comes by his shop.
  • The Metal Gear series throws this around a little: The 'Les Enfants Terribles' project and 'Militaires Sans Frontières' to name a couple of instances.
    • Neither of these really qualify as gratuitous en soi. Les Enfants Terribles is named after Jean Cocteau's novel of the same name and the Médecins sans Frontières pun wouldn't really work in any other language.
  • Yoh from Starry Sky, who is a half, occasionally spouts a few lines of French. Although they might be grammatically correct for the most part, the pronunciation and spelling are terrible.
    • Might also be added in that category his full name, Henri Samuel Jean Aimée... Which is a great name, given you're 200 years old.
    • LOL. Tell me they did not just translate "Track list" as "Truck list" right there.
      • They did. Trust me, there is no known translation of "track" that can end up even remotely like "camion".
  • Larxene's weapons in Kingdom Hearts 358 Days Over 2 all have French names. And she's seen reading a book called Marquis de Sade in Chain of Memories.
  • Innes Lorenz from Tales of Hearts deserves an honorable mention, since all of her artes contain french words.
  • A few items in Radiant Historia have French names, as does the continent on which it takes place, Vainqueur ("conqueror").
  • Night Trap has Mr. Martin saying a couple of these, either because he is French or is trying to sound like it.
  • Tales of the Abyss has the spell Eclair de L'armes (Flash of Tears) and it's Fo F Change, Flamme Rouge.
  • Almost every line from Harle in Chrono Cross.
  • The final (and Japan exclusive till a PC port years after the fact) entry in the Agarest Senki series is subtitled "Mariage" (one r instead of the English Marriage's double r). This may be a typo, though several of the characters and places do have French or Latin names. This name was retained when the game was finally released in English.

La Littérature[edit | hide]

  • In English Literature it was pretty common up until the 1980's for authors to regularly throw in a few French phrases here and there. It was a sign of an educated person to "know a bit of French". If you didn't, tant pis - too bad for you.
  • Lolita. Good luck trying to figure out what they hell everyone's talking about if you aren't bilingual, because occasionally plot-relevant information is given only in French. Humbert is particularly given to this, and he gets kinda snooty when other characters use bad French. This is one of many traits that lead the reader to conclude that his self-image boils down to, "Oh, I may be a pedophile, but at least I'm a sophisticated pedophile."
  • Samuel Weller's father in The Pickwick Papers.
  • Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot is Belgian and doesn't speak English fluently, so that character's use of French phrases is justified. Except that he actually uses less French than Christie's sympathetic English characters, who pepper their speech with French phrases. The reason is that Christie associated the use of French phrases with intelligent sophistication, not with arrogant pretension.
  • Most characters in 19th century Russian novels are either fluent in French or follow this trope. Of course, French was the official language of the court of Imperial Russia.
  • Lord Peter Wimsey of the Dorothy L. Sayers crime novels frequently indulges in them. However, he a) is not only sophisticated but also fluent in French and b) is usually conversing with other English people who can be expected (in the '20s) to have had significant French-language exposure at school.
  • Partly because of his admiration for French Enlightenment writers, partly because his native German sometimes lacked just the right word or phrase, Friedrich Nietzsche sometimes used French words and phrases (as well as ones from other languages) in his books. The most famous of these is undoubtedly ressentiment, and the penultimate section of Ecce Homo concludes with a motto from Voltaire.
  • In the original Ian Fleming Casino Royale novel, M is reading a report by Head of S in which the latter states that Le Chiffre is in the mess he's in because the chain of legal brothels he was running using embezzled party funds were closed by a 1946 French law usually referred to as "la loi Marthe Richard", which criminalised them. Head of S gives « Loi tendant à la fermeture des maisons de tolérance et au renforcement de la lutte contre le proxénétisme ». M rings him up, asks what (it is implied) "proxénétisme" means—pimping (literally, "procuring"). M then responds:

"This is not the Berlitz School of Languages, Head of S. The next time you want to show off your knowledge of foreign jaw-breakers, be so good as to use a crib. Better still, write in English."

Tact, of course, has always been with me a sine qua non;[2] while as for resource, I think I may say that I have usually contrived to show a certain modicum of what I might call finesse in handling those little contretemps which inevitably arise from time to time in the daily life of a gentleman’s personal gentleman.

  • In the Discworld novel Hogfather, a fancy restaurant names all their dishes in the pseudo-French language Quirmian. It's amazing how many fancy French titles they can give to dishes made out of mud and old boots.
  • A running joke in Fool, a book by the same author as Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, concerning the fool from King Lear as the protagonist, is the main character's fondness for the following phrase: "'Moi!?' I said, In perfect fucking French"
  • The Spanish Language Novel Aura by Carlos Fuentes includes whole segments in French, segments that apparently provide important clues to the plot
  • The character of Jean Claude from the Anita Blake series is very, very guilty of this.
    • It's really funny, when you do speak French as a first language, you know that most of what he says is complete bullshit, as a result of the author's Did Not Do the Research.
  • In Jane Eyre, Adele almost always speaks in French. Justified as she is, after all, a French girl, but the multi-paragraph chunks of French can be daunting to the non-bilingual reader.
  • Appears occasionally in the Red Dwarf novels by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, where the narration will occasionally use a French adjective. For example, Rimmer once gives a false smile which is described as trompe-l'oeil.
  • Appears frequently in Fancy Nancy's book series. Using French in order to look sophisticated is an essential trait of Nancy's personality.

La Musique[edit | hide]

  • The second verse of Electric Light Orchestra's "Hold On Tight" is in French; more specifically, it's the first verse translated into French.
  • The first half of Les Étoiles by Melody Gardot is in French.
  • The Beatles song "Michelle," which is about professing love to a non-Anglophone French girl. (Sont des mots qui vont très bien ensemble and translated by the Beatles as "These are words that go together well.")
  • Cole Porter liked having portions of his songs sung in French, often for no other justifiable reason than Everything Sounds Sexier in French. In "It's De-Lovely," one of the singers chides the other for "falling into Berlitz French."
  • The Michelle Branch song "Till I Get Over You" has some gratuitous French in the chorus. It's coherent enough unless you read the album notes, which transcribe it wrong and then translate it wrong.
  • Minako Aino's song "C'est La Vie ~ Watashi No Naka No Koi Suru Bubun" in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon is a bit off in its understanding of the phrase "C'est la vie." "C'est la vie" means "That's life" but in a way roughly analogous to "shit happens", so the sentance "Atsui kimochi wa C'est la vie (This warm feeling is C'est la vie)" is a bit odd.
  • The Talking Heads' song "Psycho Killer" has the bridge (as well as the hook "Psycho killer, qu'est que c'est?") sung in French, giving the song just that extra hint of derangement.
  • Ian Dury & The Blockheads -- "Hit me with your rhythm stick! Je t'adore, Ich liebe dich!"
  • "Lady Marmalade"'s classic Intercourse with You "voulez-vous coucher avec moi (ce soir)?" . Justified by the fact that the song is set in New Orleans.
  • Billy Idol: "Les yeux sans visage... Eyes without a face" (both phrases have the same meaning).
    • Billy Joel's song "C'etait toi/You are the one" sings the entire song twice, once in English, once in French.
  • In South Pacific, "Dites-moi" and a reprise of "Bali Ha'i" are sung entirely in French. Which is entirely unsurprising, since the characters singing them are French.
    • Except, of course, for the place name "Bali Ha'i" itself, which is Malayo-Polynesian.
  • The Agonist song Martyr Art has a French outro.
  • Contrary to what anyone in Muse might believe, the song "I Belong to You (Mon Cœur S'ouvre à ta Voix)" actually contains the phrase "Riponds à ma tendress-uh".
  • Lady Gaga has some gratuitous French in the bridge of "Bad Romance." Extra points for being timed so the next line (actually "I don't wanna be friends") sounds like "I DON'T WANNA BE FRENCH!"
    • Which is excellently parodied by LittleKuriboh.
    • "Weird Al" Yankovic also parodies this in his song "Perform This Way": "And for no reason now I'll sing in French / Excusez-moi, Qui a pété?" (Translation: Who cut the cheese?) This "translation" was given in the pre-release YouTube video; the actual meaning is "Excuse-me, who farted?"
  • Janet Jackson has some of this in her 1986 song "Funny How Time Flies (When You're Having Fun)". When translated, it basically describes the song.
  • Interestingly, Daft Punk, despite being (emphatically) French, has virtually all its songs in English. Nevertheless, when they released their anthology, what did they title it? Musique Vol. 1.
  • Art vs. Science's song "Parlez-vous Français?", naturally, has plenty of gratuitous French in it.
    • The line "Si tu peux le parler allez tombez la chemise" actually says "If you speak it, take your shirt off". Seriously.
  • Uffie's song "Robot Oeuf". Probably will be more common now that she's based in Paris. The song, however has no French to speak of. Just the title.
  • Kasabian's 'La Fée Verte'.
  • The Police song "Hungry for You (J'aurais Toujours Faim de Toi)", as you can probably tell by the parentheses, is almost entirely in French (one lone chorus gets sung in English towards the end).
  • In Aine Furey's haunting song "13 wishes" most of the last verse is sung in French; even for high school speakers, "Elle est la fille, elle est la fleur... La bohème qui vive pour l'amour" is clear enough; the intervening line, not so much.
  • 311's song "Salsa" lampshades this in the line "Je vais à la plage parce que le guignol est chouette! I kick nonsense in French tasty like Crepe Suzette". This translates to "I go to the beach because the Punch and Judy show is cool!"
  • Judas Priest's 1977 song "Saints In Hell" has Rob Halford randomly howling: "Abattoir! Abattoir! Mon Dieu, quel horreur!" (Abattoir roughly means "slaughterhouse.")
  • Shakira does this in her song "Something" (first verse, repeated later in the song).
  • Ricchi e Poveri's "Voulez-vous Danser" ("Do you want to dance"). The song is in the singers' native Italian, except for the titular question, asked at the beginning and end of each verse.
  • Eric Bogle's "Flying Finger Filler" contains a stanza in (intentionally) bad French. Of course, the entire song is not supposed to make any sense.
  • Peter Gabriel's "Games Without Frontiers" features Kate Bush repeatedly singing the title in French ("jeux sans frontieres").
  • MGMT's live EP Qu'est-ce que c'est la vie, chaton? - it translates to "What Is Life, Kitten?"

Les Pages de Web Originales[edit | hide]

La Radio[edit | hide]

  • In an episode of Revolting People, Joshua attempts to sound sophisticated by adding gratuitous French expressions to his speech, despite having no idea what any of them mean (and thus invariably using them inappropriately). When Sam points this out, Joshua responds that everybody knows French is just decorative and it doesn't matter what the words mean—and anyway, he doesn't know what most words in English mean either, and he's never let that stop him.


Les Spectacles de Marionnettes[edit | hide]


La Télévision[edit | hide]

  • Subverted in Only Fools and Horses, wherein Del Boy tries to use French to seem intelligent, but constantly, CONSTANTLY gets it wrong... to the point of saying bonjour to mean "goodbye" and au revoir to mean "hello".
    • Lampshaded in one of the last specials in which they actually go to France:

Del: One of my favourite French dishes is duck à l'orange. [...] How do they say "duck" in French?
Rodney: It's "canard".
Del: You can say that again, bruv.

  • In Doctor Who, the Tenth Doctor has a habit of using the phrase "Allons-y!" every now and then in both the show and the new novels. This and his use of "molto bene" end up saving his butt in "Midnight" when the Hostess recognizes the words are coming out of the wrong person.
  • Dollhouse plays this one to a regrettable T. In eipsode 8 (Needs), doll Tango appears with her handler during a tense escape scene. She's speaking French, but instead of a Bilingual Bonus, it ends up causing unintentional levity for some tropers, because the dialogue is stiltedly written and painfully delivered. In heavily American-accented French, Tango remarks:

"Chaque mot que tu dis c'est comme un [?] mes oreilles." ("Every word you say it is like a [?] my ears.")
"Les véhicles [?] c'est dégoûtant." ("The vehicles [?] it's disgusting.")
"Je ne sais pas pour qui j'ai [sic] continué à employer ce service de voiture en Los Angeles." ("I don't know for who I've continued to use this vehicle service in Los Angeles.")

  • Iron Chef is a Japanese cooking show. Its successor, Iron Chef America, is an American version. Both have the same call to arms, "Allez cuisine!" Which translates roughly to "Go kitchen!", except for being even less grammatical.
  • Much to the detriment of many a Hells Kitchen fan, Benjamin from season 7.

Benjamin: Oui, Chef!

Keller: Are you familiar with the term... "Pis aller"?
Peter: My French is a little rusty.


Le Théâtre[edit | hide]

"Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir? Vous ne comprenez pas? Ah, quel dommage!"

  • The Strauss opera Die Fledermaus has two characters pretending to be French at a Viennese ball. They exchange simple phrases until the other guests demand they speak German.
  • Anything Goes has a chorus in which "bon voyage" is pronounced incorrectly and correctly, and a few other phrases are correctly rendered in French.
  • The musical The Cat and the Fiddle, set in Brussels, had lots of French, including one long musical scene entirely in French.
  • In Hamlet, despite the setting being Denmark, Hamlet and his father both break in to French, saying "Adieu" instead "good-bye" for no apparent reason. Laertes, having returned from France, does not.
  • In Cabaret, many of the phrases in the opening number "Willkommen" are sung in Gratuitous German, then in Gratuitous French, then in Gratuitous English.
  • In Act III, Scene I of Twelfth Night, Sir Andrew Aguecheek is Suddenly Bilingual enough to have a brief exchange with Viola in French. (Earlier in the play, he didn't even know the word "pourquoi".)

Sir Andrew: Dieu vous garde, monsieur.
Viola: Et vous aussi. Votre serviteur.

  • Liberally sprinkled through the song "Style" from The Magic Show, as part of its deliberate pretension.

Très bien, très bien, mes amis! Vous êtes tous magnifiques.

  1. "Hello. Thank you. How are you?"
  2. This one is latin