Pardon the French!

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Warning – These are my personal thoughts about the use of language in writing.


I like books.
I like words.

I like wholesome books.
I like wholesome words in wholesome books.

I like clean, wholesome books.
I like clean, wholesome words in clean, wholesome books.

By now, the reader should know what I like to read. My reading involves everything from modern novels to books written 400+ years ago. But one thing that sets my reading apart is that I appreciate the use of well-written English.

Here in America, multitudes of magazines, periodicals, and books are written and published every day. Yet, we are at a loss as compared to much of the world’s population. Americans, on average, speak but one language, whereas, people from other countries may well speak 2-4 languages in addition to English.

While my college education included the learning of 4 different languages, I never took one single French class. Today, I am amazed at how many English authors choose to insert French into their books, and some of those would apologize for the French inclusions should their work be read in an open forum or to young people.

Why do English authors feel the need to include French words? Anybody can write a novel that includes French words that do not really mean what the author seems to imply the words mean. However, it takes a higher level of intelligence to write out words that are clearly understood by the reader. Words that mean something are of high value.

But, I believe I have the answer as to the reason for the inclusion of French. It is because more individuals are speaking French these days than ever before. In fact, some people cannot seem to get through an entire paragraph, much less an entire sentence without resorting to French words.

The trickle-down effect is staggering. The French used to be found just in elements of the lower classes of society. Then, it became popular with actors and actresses because cool people used French. This opened the door for teenagers and business people to start interjecting French into their conversations. Now, I am still astounded when I go to the store and see a little child speaking French words that mean nothing to them, and most certainly should have no place in their little brains.

Although I have taken six years of languages, both ancient and modern, I am convinced that I would know real French, from France, if I heard it. To be honest, if all of us took the time to think through our conversations, we would only be interjecting words that make sense to English readers.

True French is a beautiful language, but American French being found in films and books is uncouth. American French does not show to the world the beauty of our language, our society, and our culture. In fact, it does the opposite, and also shows that we do not appreciate the beauty of one of the world’s hardest languages to learn – English.


As for me, I prefer to speak, write, and read English. I don’t want to avoid words when reading to my children. When I hear French, I want it to be in discussion of things like baguettes, croissants, French bread, and the Eiffel Tower.

My challenge to the reader is to climb the Eiffel Towers of the English language, and leave French to the French. After all, they are just better at it.

C’est la vie, au revoir!


One thought on “Pardon the French!

    J.L. Pattison said:
    September 17, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    This very subject has been on my mind lately. Vulgarity and profanity seem to be everywhere and no one seems to bat an eye. I can’t even read an article in a magazine as innocuous as Coastal Living without being hit with profanity. It’s everywhere now and no one seems to notice. I guess fish never realize they’re wet.


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