The French are rather fond of their acronyms. If you’ve spent any significant amount of time in the country you’ll already know SMIC (minimum wage), CAF (family allowance), CMU (basic health cover) and maybe FFF (French football federation).
Unlike these ‘official’ acronyms VDM is more likely to be discovered in posts on Facebook, in emails and on blogs – and like all acronyms there’s no way to know what it means without a little explanation.
A French friend recently tried to explain it to me:
It’s basically French for FML.
FML. F*ck my life.
It was here that I had to point out that no Anglophone I knew said FML or F*ck my life. Shome mishtake shurely?
In order to convince me that FML was standard English – I was directed to a website forum where people shared stories about how crappy their lives were. It’s title: FMylife.com. However, it turns out that this website is in fact created by a not-so-clever Frenchman under the illusion that English folk wander around saying FML at every opportunity.
I cannot deny the success of the website however, so clearly there are people out there who say FML – though it is hard to say which came first: the website or the acronym.
In short, VDM is used to sum up a moment in your life when things are not going very well – as it stands for vie de merde.
Any English translator worth their salt would choose any number of possible translations for this (Shit life, my life sucks, my shitty life, my life is crap, it’s all gone tits up, etc..) – but one thing is for certain “FML” would be the last possible thing on their mind.
This just goes to show that the French believe we like to say the f-word at every opportunity – perhaps because of it’s flexible nature (you can use it as a noun, adverb, adjective and verb). Indeed, I’ve heard it used on the radio at 8am and on prime-time TV 5.30pm – times when children are obviously tuned in. Clearly it’s obscene nature is not fully appreciated.
My feeling is that the British should reciprocate and start using “niquer” when they want to sound culturally enlightened – just so that Francophones in the UK get a taste of what we British in France have to put up with.