September 12, 2013

A Word To Avoid?

Paris at Night

There's a little thing that's been grating on my nerves over the years.

Too many times I've heard a certain word thrown around by expats, and 9 times out of 10 it's used in a narrow minded, belittling way. I think it's mean. And childish.
I'm referring to the term "Frenchie."

As in, "These Frenchies (insert negative phrase here) ________________ ."

It drives me bonkers.

Yes, I know there's a restaurant in Paris called "Frenchie," but its owner is French, so that doesn't bother me. (even though said owner was given that nickname by an Englishman, so I guess it does kind of bug me)
And if you're living with a French person and the two of you use it as a term of endearment or something, that's fine too.
It's also ok if you're referring to these.

But if you're feeling frustrated or negative about the French? Well, I'm sure I'm not the only one who would ask you to avoid using it. Am I?

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Murissa Shalapata said...

This reminds me of when I was little in French Immersion in elementary school we shared the school with kids who were also enrolled in English classes. I am of no French descendence (that I know of) but oddly the French students and the English students wouldn't get along during recess all that often.
The English students' term for us French students were French Fries or the Frenchies while we decided to call them the English muffins in retaliation.
Our Quebec teachers hated what they called us so they let us go on bickering lol.

Phil said...

I think the problem here (and I agree by the way with your dislike of this belittling term is the pseudo-affection attached to terms like it. "Frenchie" with its cutesy, twee posturing does one of two things (if not both), it either infantilises or jokingly pokes fun at a group of people simply for how much their cultural distinctiveness makes them different. It's a way of pointing accusatory and defamatory fingers at a group of people without being mean. This diminutive form is used in several languages as a softening of criticisms. And the only people who don't see it this way are those who use it without thinking it's a problem. If this were any other ethnic group or nationally relevant group, the same kind of name would be considered tactless, tasteless and in many cases racist. But the French don't mind having their idiosyncrasies pointed out by Anglophone expats, right? Guess again. The ones I've spoken to and people from other communities and backgrounds think it belittling as well. As you said, it does depend on the context but there is definitely a pervasive use I've seen by expats that shouldn't be promoted.

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

I am appalled that people actually use this word in France. Don't they realize they are visitors in the country?

Sadly it's not just visitors that use name calling. When we were ex-pats living in the islands, people that did not like Americans would call us Conchy Joes (behind our backs). Name calling, no matter who does it, is not in good taste.

Emm said...

What Phil said. I've read comments here and there by expats belittling the French, which always make me wonder why they bother living there.

Lisa, a.k.a. The Bold Soul said...

Guilty as charged, I'm afraid. There are times when just saying "French" doesn't really seem to work. Like, if you wanted to say someone is a citizen of Germany, you would say "He is A German". But saying "He is A French" sounds completely wrong. I'm AN American. She's A Russian. He's AN Italian. Etc. and so on. So when I revert to "Frenchie" it's normally in that sort of context, a casual way of smoothing out something that sounds awkward otherwise.

I know a lot of people like to bash the French -- they're like the last group where it seems socially acceptable to be politically incorrect and no one other than the French seems to care, and that's wrong, of course. But for me, I say "Frenchie" with great affection because I have always liked the French for (not in spite of) their idiosyncrasies, and because I'm IN love with one French(ie) -- see? I can't just say "one French" without adding something else like "man" or "guy" -- in particular.

And now, I AM a Frenchie, too.

Linda said...

It's better than "frogs" in my opinion which I used to hear a lot. I call my husband Frenchie but not any French people in general. It doesn't seem derogatory to me, but that's just me.

Anonymous said...

Ah well, I seldom hear the Englush use the term. They're much more likely to use 'Frog'. Frenchie is much more a North American epithet. Defined by what a nation eats we get les rosbeefs, limeys and krauts...

Aude said...

This French girl doesn't mind the term that much. But does mind a lot of the annoying stereotypes that may come attached.

Anonymous said...

No no no - you got it all wrong! A Frenchie is is a Britsh person who visits France. They come in three types: hard-core (come out in all seasons), traditionalist (come out every year in summer) and noobie (who turn up at a restaurant at 14.05 and expect to be fed). The pejorative term you are describing is Froggie.


Phil said...

In any event, great post. Clearly, it sparked a lot of thought and discussion.

The Beaver said...

I am with Phil and Emm.
Reason I dropped my membership in the group French Connections on LinkedIn.
The expats from across the channel are always bashing the French and the Americans are always eager to reproduce articles from wherever - written by American journos in Paris- some dated, to continue the trend.

Anonymous said...

It also grates on my nerves....As I live in the States I have been on the receiving end of this and more!!!!!

Annie v.

Kathy Brzozowski said...

I only use it very affectionately when speaking to my husband about something French or an actress or actor etc., as we have fallen in love with the place after a wonderful holiday there this past summer. I would never use it in France however and only in the company of someone who shares our love of the place! I don't have time or patience for French bashing .

Jennifer Greco said...

Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts on this. I see some of you are with me and some aren't bothered by it. It was interesting to read the different opinions! :)

Leah said...

My husband's name is Frenchie! Well his given name is Laurent but since I have known him he has always gone by Frenchie since he has never liked the American pronunciation.

Jennifer Greco said...

That's funny! :)