Do you want to speak faster in French? Use abbreviations! French people love them, they allow us to speak faster in many different fields. Here is how you should do it!
What is truncation?
This technique consists in removing one or more syllables from a word: do you know the word ” professeur “? Well, most of the time, people don’t use the word as it is, they say ” prof ” :
– « Le prof de bio me dit que la bibli est entre le resto thaï et le ciné. »
Did you decode it?
– Le professeur de biologie me dit que la bibliothèque est entre le restaurant thaïlandais et le cinéma. – The biology teacher tells me that the library is between the Thai restaurant and the cinema.
There are truncated words, “amputees”, in many areas, as in studies:
– Amphithéâtre : amphi – location of courses at university
– Baccalauréat : bac – secondary school diploma
– Philosophie : philo – subject studied in Year 13 in France
But beware of the pronunciation of some… Or it could lead to misunderstandings, as with the word ” faculté “, which we shorten like this : ” fac “. Cédric Klapish’s film superbly staged the quiproquo in L’auberge espagnole. In this film, a Frenchman, Xavier, goes to Barcelona for Erasmus, and he lives with students of all nationalities, one of whom is English. The beginning of the scene shows the English girl answering the phone, it’s Xavier’s mum who calls.
This technique is also used to refer to “Mcdonald’s”: you will never hear French people pronounce the whole word! They’ll always say, “Je vais au Macdo ! ». In the same context, in a restaurant, you can order a “déca” for a decaf, or at the bar, you can have “l’apéro”, short for apéritif.
French name abbreviations
French people also use this method for names, especially first names. Do you have friends named Nicolas, Charlotte, Joseph, Lucas, Laura or Mohammed? Well, if they are close friends, you will be allowed to call them these faster names:
– Nicolas → Nico
– Charlotte → Chacha
– Joseph → Jojo
– Lucas → Lulu
– Laura → Lolo
– Mohammed → Momo
And as you can see, we tend to double the truncated syllable.
It also works with celebrity last names:
– Sarkozy → Sarko
– Djokovic → Djoko
– Schwazenegger → Schwarzy
Do you know the place in front of the Eiffel Tower: the Trocadero? Well, few French people say “Trocadéro”, they say rather “le Troca”.
Finally, if you want to give the time informally, you can easily say to a friend: « il est 7 heures du mat’ » (du matin) : “it’s 7 o’clock in the morning”.
« Les sigles » (to be pronounced letter by letter)
In French, we’ve got plenty! Especially in transport: if you take the train, you will have to buy your ticket at the “SNCF” (société nationale des chemins de fer = national railway company), you can take the “TGV” (train à grande vitesse = high speed train) or in the Paris region the “RER” (réseau express régional = regional express network) with the “RATP” (régie autonome des transports parisiens = autonomous Parisian transport authority).
They are also used to refer to our Grandes Ecoles such as HEC (Haute Ecole de Commerce) or ENS (Ecole Normale Supérieure) or research institutes such as the CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research).
Well, in fact, for anything and everything! I recommend Renaud’s song “Dans mon H.L.M.“, which is about this « Habitation à Loyer Modéré », where he tells the life of the inhabitants of each floor.
Acronyms in French
They are different from « sigles » because they are pronounced as whole words. It’s a little faster ton say. This is the case of: “OVNI” (meaning UFO) is an « objet volant non identifié ».
In France, if you don’t want to get married, but still want to make a heterosexual or homosexual union official, you can “se pacser”, a verb that comes from the acronym “PACS” (civil solidarity pact).
Like the « sigles », the letters are often out of order compared to the English language:
NATO → OTAN (Organisation du traité de l’Atlantique Nord)
UN → ONU (Organisation des Nations Unies)
AIDS → SIDA
Sigles English → French :
NGO → ONG (Organisation Non Gouvernementale)
HIV → VIH
Well, all this won’t help you with Scrabble, but you’ll understand the French daily life better!
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