French finally embrace 'French kissing'
It’s one of the most eagerly-awaited lists to appear each year in France, rivaling the official selection of the Cannes Film Festival and stars in the Michelin Guide: the new words inscribed into the French dictionary.
Le Petit Robert, one of two best-selling dictionaries in France, has just unveiled a set of entries (including words, proper names and events) that will make their debut in the 2014 edition.
Many are surprising, some baffling, while others are so familiar you wonder why they didn’t make it into the book of reference before.
An overview of the list, which includes hundreds of new terms, is at a minimum worth a few laughs, but also gives keen insight into the particularities, affinities, and transformations of French society.
The juiciest of the lot are without a doubt those words that have been popularized primarily through common use by youngsters.
"Bombasse", a noun used to describe a curvy female with clear reference to her explosive sex appeal, was a surprise entry for even the most open minded. "Chelou", slang for someone or something of dubious character and derived by inversing the letters in the word louche, is another shocker.
"Galoche" and "galocher", French kiss and to French kiss respectively, are novel additions, which perhaps serves as proof that French people practice more sexual restraint than we all imagine.
Then again, "plan drague" and "plan cul", which can both be roughly translated as “booty scheming” now grace the dictionary’s noble pages.
As a sign of the hard economic times, "triple A", as in a financial rating virtually no one has anymore, and the Anglicism "low cost", as in low-cost airline, have sprung up.
Other fresh French words come from English, such as "street art", "mastérisation" (as in the university degree), "mix" (as in music), "viralité" (as in a photo or video “going viral” on the web).
There are also new public figures who were brought into the fold. Film director Quentin Tarantino and François, the Pope, are rookies and rightly so. But its difficult to figure how legendary French designers Jean Paul Gaultier and Louis Vuitton were left out until now. Ditto for Barack Obama, who it appears had to be re-elected last year to win a ticket to the big game.
As a wink to the rising popularity -and success- of rugby in France, national team nicknames All Blacks (as in New Zealand), Wallabies (Autralia) and Springboks (South Africa) can now count themselves among the proud few.