The Lou Messugo Blog - life in the south of France from a British/Australian TCK's perspective, bringing you French culture, travel on the Côte d'Azur and beyond, expat issues and a little bit of je ne sais quoi all mixed up with a hefty dose of photography.

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I've noticed a trend becoming more and more popular over the last few years in French music, songs in a mix of French and English.  Some are duets, some are solo artists or groups, most are from France or other Francophone countries like Belgium and Canada but they are also from a handful of other countries too.  For some artists it's a one-off and for others most or all of their music is in this Franco-English mix.  It's kind of the perfect mix for an Anglo-French family like mine.

French English songs to listen to

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I just picked up my car from being serviced this morning and found the radio station had been re-tuned from my regular station of choice to Radio FG.

**WARNING STRONG LANGUAGE! Don't read if you don't like the F-word!**

F word

So what?  Radio FG plays some good music.  I usually quite like their playlist and sometimes choose to listen to it in the car.  I used to listen to it a lot more when it was edgier, and less mainstream.  It claims to be the radio station for electro deep house, techno, dance and R’n’B although to my ignorant ears it sounds like pure Top 40 hits.  (I think it's changed...)  It started life in 1981 as a community radio station for the gay scene in Paris.  FG stood for fréquence gaie (gay frequency).

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Going to the movies is a universal pleasure but one that can become fraught with complications when living (or even holidaying) in a foreign country that isn't English-speaking.  How do you find a film in English?  

      cinema kisses

In some European countries - I'm thinking Scandinavia in particular - all films are screened in their original language but that isn't the case in France which has a love affair with the dreaded dubbing. I say "dreaded" because, you've guessed it, I hate dubbing.  I think a film loses so much when the original actors' voices are replaced.  No matter how great the actor is doing the dubbing, I just don't think they can get into the part as much as the original actor and as a consequence some emotion is lost.  But it's not just that, it's also the fact that the characters' mouths move differently to the words being said which is distracting and off-putting and finally the fact that I often know the voice of the original actor which makes the sound coming out just plain wrong.  Think Sean Connery, or Judi Dench, Emma Thompson, Clint Eastwood or Meryl Streep - they all have such distinctive voices, even when using different accents, that just can't be replaced by a French voice (as far as I'm concerned!)     

So, knowing that France loves dubbing, is it possible to see a film in English?  The answer, thankfully, is oui yes!  You have to look for the addition of the letters VOST which stand for "version originale sous titrée" (original version with subtitles), or a variation of this including VOSTF / VOSTFR or just VO.  Depending where you are in France there can be lots of choice in VO to almost none at all.  In general the more foreigners there are in the area, the more likely films will be in VO.  In the big multiplexes in Paris almost all films are screened in their original language.  In some areas there might be only one cinema that shows VO once a month though.  On the Côte d'Azur it's getting easier to see movies in English.  Surprisingly, considering the vast numbers of foreign residents, most films are still in VF (version française) but more and more cinemas are holding screenings in VO, you just need to search the local listings carefully.  

       cinema

Two little tips to remember: some films in France have their title changed, some don't.  Just because the title is in French doesn't mean there won't be a VO version and above all note that VO doesn't necessarily mean English (example circled in red above).  This last point might seem obvious but I fell into that particular trap even after 10 years or so in France.  I went to see the film "The Kite Runner" having adored the book (written in English).  It was billed as being VO.  For me, that meant English.  Full stop. Hah! The first 10 minutes or so were in English, as the action was set in the US, but once it moved to Afghanistan, where the rest of the film took place, the original language was....Dari!  A bit of a surprise admittedly, though not a disaster for me as I could read the French subtitles.  Not so for my non French-speaking friend! 

What do you think about dubbing?  Does it bug you?  Do you like watching films with sub-titles?  I'd love to hear from you.  Comments are always very happily received and (nearly) always answered!

 

The photo of the film kisses above is taken in Cannes where many walls are painted with cinematic themes to celebrate Cannes' relationship with the movies.  Find out more about Cannes cinema street art here.

 

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how to find movie in English in France

 

 

 

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Every now and then the Académie Française gets upset about the amount of English words creeping into every day usage in French and this was once again at the forefront of the news recently when a couple of French universities proposed to start teaching some courses in English.    Language purists get all worked up and debate the decline of their beautiful language and what can be done about it.  But it is estimated that up to 60% of English vocabulary is of French origin so a few Englishisms in the language of Molière is only fair really.

Using "ing" on the end of an English word to create a noun is very popular.  Here are a few of my favourites:

   le smoking

un smoking - a dinner jacket/tuxedo (as modelled by Bill Murray above in GQ magazine)

un lifting - cosmetic surgery (as in face lift)

le re-looking - make-over

un brushing - a blow dry and style (for hair)

le shampooing - shampoo

un dressing - a walk-in closet for clothes

le footing - jogging

un parking - a carpark

Another couple of common words are le weekend and le shopping are both self explanatory and completely part of current usage.  Nobody says "bon fin de semaine" for "have a good weekend" which is what the Académiciens would have us say.

One of my favourites, and particularly poignant in my household at the moment, with a teenage son who loves his video games, is the verb "se geeker" meaning to participate in geekish activity.

               geeks

Another great example of language sharing can be found with the Walkie-Talkie which becomes le talkie-walkie, with the "L" very much pronounced, as in "tall-key" "wall-key".  Isn't that brilliant?

Finally, in a complete reversal of languages, something that has become de rigeur is now described as "le must"!

 

 

 

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