There are many Anglicisms that have made their way into the French vernacular.

I have already mentioned the ‘F’ word – which the French seem to think is no more offensive than saying ‘bottom’.  My latest find in this regard is a digital radio station self-baptised “Fuckin’ Good Radio” or Radio FG for short on which they play “Fuckin’ Good Music” – apparently.  But if you ask me, the only time the F-word should feature in the same sentence as this music station is in the word “fuckwit” – which no doubt epitomises the individual who came up with the name. On NRJ a few weeks back we heard an advert for a new party service called “Myfuckingbirzday” – who, one presumes, organise club-nights for fuckwits.

Anyway, the word I wanted to bring to your attention is actually far less offensive: stop. Yes, the verb “to stop”.

In French this means precisely what it means in English. I stop, you stop, they stop, we stop, he/she stops.  In it’s infinitive form it is written “stopper” (pronounced stoeppay). The French use it, one presumes, because it’s faster to say and easier to conjugate than s’arreter (to stop oneself).  Stopper is a regular verb – so you can easily shift it into the composite past or imperfect tenses without much thought.

For us anglophone foreigners such borrowed words can make our life slightly easier when speaking French. However, because it’s pronounced slightly differently this can have other less desirable consequences. Indeed, stop is not pronounced in the same way as in English because the vowel-sound is longer.  So it sounds more like sturp when said aloud.

Now, being the father of three bilingual kids, I’m often using the imperative form of stop: Stop that now! Stop it! Stop whining! – or just – Stop! The problem is that I am now so used to using stop in it’s French form that I often use it when I’m speaking English. Fortunately my kids understand what I mean by “Sturp sturp sturp!” – though when we have visitors I have to consciously drop l’accent.

This perhaps typifies the problem of living in a bilingual environment – the lines between one language and another start to become blurred. French vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar start to infect your once perfect English and, like a virus, begin eating away at your ability to communicate coherently in your mother tongue. For example: my wife recently said she was “re-orientating” herself (meaning she was “getting used to” her new lifestyle); I often find myself saying “evidently” instead of obviously; I often “take a coffee” (instead of have a coffee) with friends…

The thing it, it’s awfully hard to sturp something once you it commence.