Is French a hoax?

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This report that French is a hoax is too funny not to pass on.


  1. Barney said,

    February 21, 2011 @ 8:26 pm

    C.f. "Creators Admit Unix and C Language Hoax",

  2. Ben said,

    February 21, 2011 @ 10:01 pm

    This seems to be a variant on a theme. Here's _The Onion_ on ancient Greece:,18209//

  3. Ian Mac said,

    February 21, 2011 @ 10:06 pm

    What really makes this article great is the profuse utilization of French words: Façade, raconteurs, élites, naïve, and charade.

  4. Bill Poser said,

    February 21, 2011 @ 10:13 pm

    Barney@I am a Unix/C guy. That's NOT funny. :)

  5. Thomas Thurman said,

    February 21, 2011 @ 10:33 pm

    What's French for "Mornington Crescent"?

  6. Hermann Burchard said,

    February 21, 2011 @ 10:51 pm

    In fact, it has long been clear that the French cannot really speak at all, proudly asserting their descent from Neanderthals who, as is well known, lacked the hyoid bone needed for a properly functioning vocal tract. They do try to speak English in human company, but nobody can understand what they say, sound and fury yes, sense, mais non, certainement. If my remarks seem the obvious ethnic rantings due to my German origins then I will reply that I am fond of the high cultural achievements of the French nation, such as the compositions for piano by Frederic Chopin and the paintings of Pablo Picasso.

  7. Alison said,

    February 21, 2011 @ 11:50 pm

    Tangentially, I first interpreted your use of 'pass on' as similar to 'pass up': for example, someone would say "I'll pass on that cake, I'm dieting. Then I realized you meant it in what should have been the more obvious sense, 'give to the next person'. Interesting how a single phrase can have almost opposite meanings depending on context.

  8. pj said,

    February 22, 2011 @ 5:42 am

    @Thomas Thurman:
    Mornington Croissant, of course.

    (The game still follows the Standard English Ancient and Modern Rules with a few typically French modifications. Chalk Farm or Shepherds Bush gain the player a 3 move subsidy, and as you’d expect the mention of any main-line station will cause the succeeding player to miss a turn, or go on strike.)

  9. richard howland-bolton said,

    February 22, 2011 @ 7:26 am

    As a dose of reality, I actually lived in Paris (with, Oo-La-La, an actual French girlfriend) for the best part of a year back in '68 (and no, that stuff in '68 wasn't all my fault) and I discovered that my schoolboy French didn't work at all. I don't know what language I had been taught, but it didn't seem to have been what any stranger I met spoke. The interesting thing was, however, that anyone Claire introduced to me IMMEDIATELY STARTED TO SPEAK IN PRETTY-GOOD-ENGLISH!! So I assume that it's true; the French, when faced with someone who is English (or, no doubt, American), and thus reminded that we won the lingua franca race, just goes "Ohn! Onn! On! On!" or the like merely to ridicule us.
    Remember: if French existed 'Revenge' would be a French word!
    And keep watching the skies!

  10. army1987 said,

    February 22, 2011 @ 7:38 am

    I had suspected that all along!!!

  11. magdalena said,

    February 22, 2011 @ 8:21 am

    This reminds me of a theory from about two years ago that Latin wasn't actually a language at all, and that the Romance languages are not derived from it. ;-)

  12. Colin John said,

    February 22, 2011 @ 8:30 am

    @Thomas Thurman, pj
    The French for 'Mornington Crescent' is Château d'Eau.

    Well, a couple of people who read this will understand why.

  13. Jeff Parker said,

    February 22, 2011 @ 9:52 am

    There is nothing new under the sun

    "We are so poor, we don't even our own language!  Just dis stoopid accent!"

    "She's right, she's right! We all talk like Maurice Chevalier!"

    History of the World, part I

  14. baylink said,

    February 22, 2011 @ 10:21 am

    Ah, France…

    Where they keep the urinals on the sidewalks, and Jerry Lewis is a *god*…

  15. Sili said,

    February 23, 2011 @ 11:37 am

    This reminds me of a theory from about two years ago that Latin wasn't actually a language at all, and that the Romance languages are not derived from it. ;-)

    Not "theory", "hypothesis".

    And by "hypothesis" I mean "not even quarter-assed guess".


    [(myl) See here. I advance the hypothesis that "the whole thing was written over a drunken weekend, to win a bar bet".]

  16. Peezy said,

    February 23, 2011 @ 1:46 pm

    @Hermann Burchard – Picasso was Spanish……

    Finally, I don't have to worry about rounded front vowels, nasal vowels and uvular trills – bout time y'all came clean!

  17. ENKI-][ said,

    February 23, 2011 @ 5:16 pm

    Truth is stranger than fiction. French is not a hoax, but written french was designed as a psyops weapon for a cold war (it was made needlessly complicated intentionally as part of a very successful plan to keep the french nobles too distracted to revolt against Louis XIV).

  18. Ellen K. said,

    February 24, 2011 @ 10:42 am

    @Peezy. Yes, but Picasso lived (as an adult) in France.

  19. Faldone said,

    February 24, 2011 @ 11:41 am


    And Frederic Chopin was Polish. I think Mr. Burchard was making a malar-lingual comment.

  20. Barry said,

    February 24, 2011 @ 6:47 pm

    By the year 3000, French will be an incomprehensible dead language:

  21. maidhc said,

    February 25, 2011 @ 3:35 am

    No one seems to have mentioned that it's a common English idea that people in Wales/Ireland/Scotland transact all their daily business in English, but the moment they spot an Englishman coming into the pub, they all instantaneously switch to Welsh/Irish/Gaidhlig for the sole purpose of confusing the newcomer.

    I've been told this in all seriousness a number of times. When I've answered something like "I suppose they do the same thing in Spain" it really doesn't seem to register.

  22. speedwell said,

    February 25, 2011 @ 3:17 pm


    If Chopin was not French, then why do we pronounce his name in French?

  23. magdalena said,

    February 26, 2011 @ 2:30 pm

    because he (Chopin) had a French name? Though actually, he is often called Fryderyk Szopen in Poland. But seriously – his dad was French or something, and there's nothing we can do about it.

  24. Jer said,

    February 28, 2011 @ 1:22 am

    Not only that, but apparently an entire French-speaking country also made up: Belgium doesn't exist

  25. Xmun said,

    February 28, 2011 @ 4:10 am

    According to Wikipedia, "Chopin's father was Nicolas Chopin, a Frenchman from Lorraine who had emigrated to Poland in 1787 at the age of sixteen and had served in Poland's National Guard during the Kościuszko Uprising (1794)."

  26. vanya said,

    February 28, 2011 @ 3:33 pm

    Given the difference in international influence and relative arrogance towards the rest of the world, English speakers mocking French is about as funny as Duke fraternity guys mocking a homeless man.

  27. xyzzyva said,

    March 23, 2011 @ 12:18 pm


    Given French's international influence and relative arrogance towards the rest of the world, I'd say it's more like Duke fraternity guys mocking UNC fraternity guys.

  28. Treesong said,

    February 13, 2014 @ 2:59 pm

    The date in the link is (now) wrong; 16 should be 25.

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