EssorerPhoto: an earth-friendly alternative to tumble drying.

Today we are talking about Frenglish: Friend or Foe? List some of les mots franglais that you have encountered and tell us whether you are charmed--or alarmed!--by the mixing and mingling of languages. Share your thoughts in the comments box.

essorer (eh-so-ray) verb
  1. to wring out, twist; to air, to dry; to spin dry
  2. (old French) to soar

"Essorer, 'to mount' a term of falconry expressive of the action of the hawk when he wheels in the air or sails away with little perceptible motion in his outstretched wings and seems to be engaged in *drying* his pinions." from "Transactions of the Philological Society" -by Philological Society

Audio File (follows, after the story column & sponsor's message)


(The following story was posted two years ago.)

While clearing off the table after lunch, I handed my daughter a casserole with leftover gnocchi.* "Take this to the kitchen," I said, "and come back with the sponge, please." Moments later my daughter reappeared, holding in her hand a water-logged éponge.* "J'ai oublié de skwee-zay," she explained, in Frenglish.

"Skwee-zay? You forgot to skwee-zay?" I ask, teasing my nine-year-old before tackling the word imposter.
"Jackie, how do you say 'squeezed' in French?"
"I don't know," she admitted, to my surprise. Well, the French verb for "squeeze" wasn't exactly sitting on the tip of my tongue, legs swinging back and forth like there's no tomorrow, either.

I sat down for coffee with Jean-Marc, handing him a square of chocolate from a box marked "Croquant et Fondant, Chocolat Blanc".* If only French equivalents to English could rhyme as well... it would make the guessing game so much easier.

The white chocolate was rich with almonds, apricots and even nougat--making for a heady tasting experience. Perhaps that is why even Jean-Marc seemed at a loss to translate the French verb for "squeeze"....
"Presser," he offered, before asking for another thick square of chocolate.

That couldn't be right. While you can "press" an orange (and even a grape--as Jean-Marc should know) and while you can be "pressé" or pressed for time, you just don't go "pressing" sponges. At least not in English, where sponges are "squeezed".

"You don't 'press' a sponge," I countered, still at a loss to know the answer on my own. Jean-Marc returned his attention to the subject in time to offer another possibility: "essorer" (to twist dry). My husband doled out the verb with all the lackadaisical stewardship of someone born into a goldmine of French, never having experienced need for nouns, never having been voracious for a verb. And I collected that verb eagerly, hungrily--enviously--with all the desperation of a gold-digger...which is how I got the truth all mixed up. For, just like oranges, grapes, and busy Frenchmen, sponges are in fact most often pressed (pressé) in France (and not so much "twisted" or "essoré").

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Today's Topic: FRENGLISH : Friend or Foe?
List a few Frenglish or Franglais terms that you have encountered. Do you fancy the Frenglish word "skwee-zay", or are you a traditionalist, of the Académie française camp? Does Frangais amuse you... or undo you? Is languge something to get so worked up about, or should we be a little more laisser-faire with all the new terms swimming around out there? Let's talk, via the comments box.

.....................................French Vocabulary...........................
le gnocchi (m) = small potato dumpling; l'éponge (f) = sponge; croquant et fondant chocolat blanc = crunchy, melts-in-the-mouth white chocolate

Audio Clip:Listen to my daughter, Jackie, pronounce the French word essorer and hear the following terms and expressions: Download Essorer2 . Download Essorer2

Terms & Expressions:
Machine à essorer = spin dryer
essorer la salade = to spin dry the salad
essorer la poignée = (motorcycle expression) "to twist the handle" = to get moving
faire essorer le linge = to dry the clothes
Ne pas essorer  (as seen on the care labels inside clothing) = Do not spin dry

In Gifts and Reading:
For drying salad (the old-fashioned, French way)

For drying salad (the new, modern way)

Just about every French household has one of these indoor folding racks. Try it!

A selection of French language magazines.

Verb conjugation:
j'essore, tu essores, il/elle essore, nous essorons, vous essorez, ils/elles
essorent ; past participle: essoré

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Annette Heat

Here in the US we often refer to our big store chain as Tar-ghay vs Target and dogs as mongrelles vs mongrel. My former French teacher had a little daughter who mixed French and English often. When her Mother would ask her to come inside, she would reply, "I don't want to come dans la maison." She probably uttered some mixed words but I don't recall them. I hate hearing someone call a crepe, a "crape". I keep my mountain of French books nearby so I can grab them anytime I sit for a few minutes. I understand so completely....why you envy Jean Marc for his birth in the "goldmine of French". I would take a few years off my life to be fluent and I know it will never happen. Bonne journee, Annette


I have given up trying to speak any semblence of "correct" French. I will be ending my sojourn in Paris in 6 months so the Franglish abounds. I will be desolee to leave but tres happy to see my grandchildren dans les Etats Unis. My husband and I are the text livre version of Franglish!! Au bye!


Oui, the "Tar-JAY thing" m'enerve aussi! (Also keyboards that make accent marks difficile!) Is that why everyone spells my name " Renee' " when they type it??? Grrrr....

Mary Kopala

Ah oui; I, too, wish that I could spend my days studying french so that I could be fluent. I have wanted to speak french since I was a small child--I have no idea where I got such an idea because I grew up in rural PA where no one spoke french, nor did they teach it in school. So as a middle aged adult, I began to study on my own, took a few classes, travel to France,work with a tutor when I can, and eagerly await my approaching retirement when I can devote more time to learning french. In any case, I enjoy mixing french with my English and my husband goes along with my program. Interestingly, while in France this past summer I learned a word that puzzled by tutor--Repulsif. Anybody know what that refers to?


Julie Schorr

Hi Kristin,
When I was living in France the words that bothered me the most were the English words I had to use and mispronounce to make myself understood. It felt weird and akward saying an English or Franglais word and I often found myself just wanting to use a good French word instead. Words like square, shampooing, hamburger, le stress, etc...


Both French and English are living languages, as opposed to Latin, which never changes. Keeping a language "pure" is folly. As long as people from various languages are interacting, there will be intermingling of languages. The only way to stamp out "Franglish" is to stamp out communication between French and English speakers. Not a desireable or even possible situation, is it?


I think the "Tar-Jay thing" is just for fun. I don't think people mean anything by it. I use to get annoyed when people called me Sandra when my name is Saundra... pronounced totally different. I call myself Sandy now. Know one has been able screw that one French isn't an easy language but neither is english! Adiós.


I can't understand the use of the word 'manager' when gerer is available. Or'show' instead of spectacle. Oh, well. Je devrais être plus cool ! (I do like the way the French use 'cool'.) I looked up the French for popcorn recently and in the word reference forum, people said that it's usually 'le pop-corn', although the Canadians say maïs soufflè. Funny, but Canadian French seems much freer of franglais. I wonder why that is.


Julie: I remember being delighted each time I glimpsed the word "shampooing" (on the shower stand, next to my host family's favorite shower gel "Tahiti"). Shampooing and Tahiti! "Cool" (as Leslie might agree :-)


In the internet age I suppose it was inevitable to hear, "Je vais connecter à l'internet," but I was sure 'connecter' was not French. However, this year's Petit Robert says that it is so, as someone noted above, it's a living language. Let's be glad and learn to evolve with it. "Skweezer," on the other hand, is just one step too far just now!

Mike Armstrong

As to why les Canadiens protégent la langue plus que les Français, c'est simple... They are surrounded! Jean-Benoit Nadeau et sa femme, Julie Barlow do a great job of explaining this and much more in their excellent book, The Story of French.

Marianne Rankin

Offhand, I can't think of any "Frenglish" or "franglais" words. I can think of numerous words coming from French that aren't pronounced a la francaise, although some of them (such as resume) have become English over time.

What bothers me a lot is pretensions to French without being careful or accurate. I see restaurants, for example, with names where the gender (le or la) is incorrect. Everywhere, I see French words with incorrect accents where they don't belong, and missing where they do belong.

Etienne Viator

Somewhat surprisingly, Louisiana French has resisted franglaiscization even more than le francais de France has -- at least for some expressions. For example, we here in south Louisiana don't say "le popcorn"; instead, we onomatopoeiacally created "le tac-tac." And we still say "la fin 't' semaine" rather than "le weekend."

Joan Beinetti


Kristen - Hi! I am commenting for (I think) the first time, but we have emailed back and forth a bit. I my youngest two children are a boy 12 and a girl almost 9 so I relate to your mom and kid stories a lot. I am glad you do this blog.

Renée - When I started studying French with MyPLT ( I thought I would need to buy a different keyboard for the computer in order to type French correctly, but I found a list online of how to type them. I just printed out and taped nearby instead. Now, just from using them, I have memorized some of the most common ones: press the ALT key and hold it while typing the numbers on the number key pad (first make sure that numbers lock is on). 133-à; 135-ç; 130-é; 138-è; 136-ê; 128-Ç. I am not sure if this works on a laptop or not. For more info, look here: scroll down)



I'm responding to the photograph. Years ago, when I spent several months in a second floor studio apartment in an older part of Marseille, I would wash my undies and tops by hand in the kitchen. A clothesline ran outside from one window to the next, so I could hang things up to dry.
One day after I did this, I heard loud shouting from outside the window. My wet and dripping laundry was raining water in front of the entry door to the building. The elderly French couple from another apartment wanted to enter, but resented getting soaked by my wet clothes
After that, I was careful to see where the clothes ended up after I attached them to the clothesline.


Hehe, the way the french incorporate english words cracks me up!! i especially love when they use words do come from english but we would never use the word like that. like, un lifting for facelift or faire du footing for jogging. i can't think of any others at the moment. or when they are talking and all of the sudden they'll say a word and i don't even remotely understand, 99% of the time its an english word that was pronounced in such a way that it takes me 5 minutes to recognize it, like the word hot which i always think they are saying haute. oh and a question, when they say allez op, is that written allez hop? i saw the word hop in instead of search on a frech website recently and it made me wonder...anyway thanks word a day!! bien a vous


Years ago, we owned a folding camping trailer that bore a label in both English and French. In French, it was a "roulotte de camping." I wondered, was camping an idea that originated in English-speaking countries, so that the French didn't have words for it?

Jules Greer

Dearest Kristi,

You cannot imagine how much joy all of these comments bring to my day - I love them almost as much as I love your blog.



Alicia Deavens

I suppose if Franglais eventually leads to French, that is good. My 5 year old does this sometimes. It helps me add words to her vocabulary. But for me, being the daughter of an elementary school teacher, it has always bugged me when people mispronounce any word. This has also followed me in French. Then again, when learning a new language, mistakes that are made and get corrected - become tools that encourage fluency. I also thought of my favorite place in France and one of the reasons it is my favorite... Tours. It has a reputation: "The inhabitants of Tours (Les Tourangeaux) are renowned for speaking the "purest" form of French in the entire country. The pronunciation of Touraine is widely regarded as the most standard pronunciation of the French language, devoid of any perceived accent (unlike that of most other regions of France, including Paris)." Based on my poor french capabilities, I am not sure if my love affair with Tours is a good thing or a bad thing. (Quote from


I had an interesting experience the other day. I was talking to a girlfriend about the Aeropostale store (popular teen clothing), and when I said the name of the store, her daughter rolled her eyes at me and in her American teen pronunciation said, "It's Airo Postel." I rolled my eyes back at her and said, "No Dear, it's Aeropostale, it's French, and it means Air Mail." Her chin dropped, her eyebrows went up, and I could sense that wheels were turning. I think that "Airo Postel" is a common pronunciation among our teens.


L'apparition du franglais est liée sans doute au manque d'aisance des Français avec les langues étrangères , un moyen pour eux de se donner l'illusion de posséder quelques mots de l'autre langue (l'anglais bien sûr) sans la posséder, et sans même l'avoir apprise ( ou mal apprise) mais vous savez Kristin que ces mots batards ne sont pas reconnus par vos compatriotes anglophones. Mais les langues vivantes s'influenceront toujours mutuellement à partir du moment ou les hommes voyagent et se rencontrent. Plus étonnant, c'est l'admiration réciproque qu'indique l'injection dans nos parlers mais surtout nos écrits, d'authentiques mots, amusants précis, de la langue de l'autre, ceux qui sont mal rendus par la notre .Ce que vous faites souvent Kristin, les Français aussi, et là ce n'est plus du franglais.Mais, au fil du temps, l'apport exogène est intégré, absorbé, phagocyté, francisé ici, anglicisé là. C'est une condition nécessaire, mais pas suffisante, pour que les langues vivent pour rester vivantes. Réal


Firstly, to Renée and Joan: Try This site lets you type with all the accents and copy the text into any document.

Now, let the rant begin.

I avoid using anglicisms if I can possibly help it. This makes my French strange to some, as I use words like 'courriel' for 'e-mail', 'télécopie' instead of 'fax' and prefer 'deuxième' to 'seconde'.

But if you think the language is going to the dogs there, you should try living in Germany. Here, English words (real or perceived and terribly misspronounced) abound. Like Réal said, people think that using 'English' shows they speak the language and are often not even aware that the words they're using don't exist.

In advertisng, hardly anyone bothers to write a claim in German anymore and products all have Denglisch (Deutsch-Englisch) names. English verbs are conjugated the German way, for goodness' sake! It's so bad that the CDU (Social Democrats) would like to have the language protected in the constitution and have a body that regulates it (like the French do). Now, I don't agree with most of their proposals, but I'm fully behind them on this one. Yes, languages do evolve. English has been enriched by the numerous words borrowed from other languages, but it's still recognisable as a sovereign language, not a sort of pidgin! And I didn't spend all these years learning German to now speak a bastardised version of my mother tongue!

I apologise for the rant, but this is a topic that really gets my goat. As I tell people when they ask why I don't just use the English word ('everyone does') for a particular thing, 'There's a perfectly good German (or French, as the case may be) word for that, so I don't need to.'

There. Rant over. Back to you Kristin and thanks for the engaging, funny (and very thought-provoking) blog!


Back to the story:

---> "essorer"
The action to be done was to squeeze water out of a sponge = “essorer“ une éponge.
How, physically speaking, do you squeeze water out of a dish-cloth, a sponge, or wet socks washed by hands?
-> by pressing and twisting the wet cloth/sponge, etc in between your hands.
The physical actions of pressing + twisting with your hands, in French, is translated by the verb → “TORDRE”.
–> to 'wring out the washing' by hand, is -> “tordre le linge”.

–--> “une essoreuse ”
Une essoreuse used to be made of 2 “rouleaux” (a mangle) between which the water was squeezed out. The big and noisy "essoreuse centrifuge", made of copper, used a revolving drum and was the proper ancestor of the modern and compact "essoreuse" -> 'spin-dryer'.
So, “essorer” also means: 'to spin-dry'.

---> Petite parenthèse: "essorer la salade".
Nowadays, the French have “une essoreuse à salade” = a 'salad spinner' that you turn by hand and spin round and round. It's quite fun and it does a super job, very quickly (no need to buy an electric gadget!). "L'essoreuse à salade" has replaced the traditional “panier à salade” which is now called panier à salade "à l'ancienne", either “rond”, or “pliant” ("pliant" = folding). See below:

On one of the photos posted in "la bicoque" newsletter, I am pretty sure the rusty mesh thing hanging on the shutter (bottom left) by a piece of blue string was an old "panier à salade".

As for the franglais, I'll send another post.


"panier à salade"
Sorry, this is the link I wanted to post instead of the one I gave earlier on


This is my first comment, though I have been a faithful reader for months.

Today’s blog really made me smile with happy memories. I live in the Pennsylvania Dutch area near Philadelphia. Many years ago, after college French and a year at l'Universite Laval in Quebec City, I moved to Montreal to live and work in a bilingual world. I worked as an Airline Stewardess for awhile. Most of the other “stews” in the company were French Canadian and the Franglais they used puzzled me at first, but also made me cringe....
Phrases like “J’ai jumpe dans le belly de l’avion…, or “elle feele pas bien.”

My all time favorite, was one borrowed from the great Canadian sport of ice hockey. Warning me of possible back stabbing by a supervisor, a fellow “l’hotesse de l’aire” advised me to “watche-toi ben dans les corners!!!” That phrase always brings a smile to my face. I still use that gem with my Francophone friends today (after first explaining it!) GRIN.


A funny story from my years living in Montreal… my parents had come to visit me in Montreal and we traveled around the Province. My mom didn’t know a word of French, but was always excited when she could figure out a word.
In the walled city of Quebec, driving past the famous bar next to the old wall, “La Brasserie de la Fortifications”, she proudly exclaimed that she knew what that building was. I asked her and she responded, a bra and girdle factory!!!

Rachel (or is it Rachelle?)

My boyfriend and his brother are completely bilingual French/English so they are regularly speaking Franglais. Finally I shout at them to "just pick a language!" And I'm still giggling about your daughter's "squee-zay"!


but wait is seconde du franglais? i thought it was when there was only two of something...and tier like tier monde (i could be misspelling that) is it the same principle? oh my grammar teachers would not be proud of me! thank goodness for wordreference!


Hola everyone!
I haven’t been able to read your blog for the past month and I have missed it a lot!

As I mentioned before, my life goes between spanish-english-french (esfrenglish?). I’m not fluent in French and my husband is not in Spanish, so we communicate in English. However, we do mix English a lot with words or little phrases in Spanish and French.
I am a “words-lover” and sometimes I do worry about all this mixing... mostly when I forget words in my own language! I hate that!

Also, we are planning to start a family soon and the trilingual situation excites me but also I’m a little concern if our children would be able to speak any of the languages with a good level of vocabulary, grammar, spelling, etc.
I guess it would be up to us to keep the standard high and pay attention to that.

At the end of the day... when I let go -a little bit- my obsession with meaning and words, I just feel fortunate to live the life I choose with my adorable French husband in a foreign country, even if that means that sometimes I can not express myself the way I want in English or French and also all the pronunciation and spelling mistakes... wish you could know me in Spanish! LOL

Merci and hasta luego!



Hola everyone!
I haven’t been able to read your blog for the past month and I have missed it a lot!

As I mentioned before, my life goes between spanish-english-french (esfrenglish?). I’m not fluent in French and my husband is not in Spanish, so we communicate in English. However, we do mix English a lot with words or little phrases in Spanish and French.
I am a “words-lover” and sometimes I do worry about all this mixing... mostly when I forget words in my own language! I hate that!

Also, we are planning to start a family soon and the trilingual situation excites me but also I’m a little concern if our children would be able to speak any of the languages with a good level of vocabulary, grammar, spelling, etc.
I guess it would be up to us to keep the standard high and pay attention to that.

At the end of the day... when I let go -a little bit- my obsession with meaning and words, I just feel fortunate to live the life I choose with my adorable French husband in a foreign country, even if that means that sometimes I can not express myself the way I want in English or French and also all the pronunciation and spelling mistakes... wish you could know me in Spanish! LOL

Merci and hasta luego!



I checked out Babel Fish and tried the following phrase: How is the translation?

Il vaut mieux d'être aimable, pour serrer dehors la qualité du moment, que pour laisser des autres dans la douleur.

(It is better to be kind, to squeeze out the goodness of the moment, than to leave another in pain.)

From a discussion about how important (or not) it is to be right.

JacquelineBrisbane (Oz)

Having lived in Brussels for the first 20 years of my life, language mangling and mixing is a way of life! We may mix French-Flemish-Brusselaire, add to that other words, such as "toubib" for docteur, which I think is Arabic. Is it not not "pukka" (Indian origin for.... you go find out!) to mix and match?! Then there is the Luxembourger patois, the German patois from near Koln to include and the latest language before 'stirring': anglais... The joys of having multinational families... It can be enriching and/or infuriating... a wonderful way to stimulate debate and foster understanding between cultures. Tot ziens.

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