Le best of

One of the most overused and mispronounced English expressions I hear right now in the French media is ‘best of’.  Literally this translates in French as ‘meilleur de’ which strikes me as a perfectly acceptable French phrase. So why use the English? Like so many examples of franglais, this remains a mystery.

In summer and over the year-end holidays, all the major networks and radio stations run ‘best of’ programs – essentially repeats of the most memorable moments from live shows broadcast during the year. The expression can be found in everything from publishing to fast food menus.

As you know in France the year runs from September to June, just like the school calendar.

I suppose the news and entertainment media are entitled to a summer vacation just like the rest of us. Also, they need some time to prepare the new line-up that will start in September when we all rush back to school and work. Still, it seems a little slack to simply repackage content that is déjà vu and rerun it for July and August.

But as the saying goes, when in Rome…

This summer I am inspired to do as the French do with my own blog ‘best of’. So I’ll repost some old favourites as well as link to fellow bloggers’ best-loved pieces. While adding new posts as the spirit moves me.

I’ll start my ‘Best of’ with a throwback to this post about franglais from my early days of FranceSays. Check out the video of former prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin trying to use English to make a point in a campaign speech. It was a source of razzing and ridicule that carried my favourite French puppets, Les Guignols, now sadly defunct, through many a sketch.

Parlez-vous franglais?

Note that the French say ‘best off’. This makes me smile as it seems somehow appropriate: everyone is ‘off’ on holiday. Perhaps even at their best when off on holiday. In that case, I’d best be off!

Do you have a ‘best of’ example of franglais?


  1. francetaste · July 4, 2019

    I also see it spelled “bestophe,” which befuddled me for a very long time. Especially because in English one refers to “greatest hits.”

    • MELewis · July 4, 2019

      Gah! I had never seen that one…thanks for sharing it. It makes perfect sense in fact as it is a Frenchified version of the expression. But I can’t find it in Larousse so it must not be official. Just as well — to me it makes it even worse to take a bastardization of the English language and make it correct in French. 😫

  2. francetaste · July 4, 2019

    I also see it spelled “bestophe,” which befuddled me for a very long time. Especially because in English one refers to “greatest hits.”

  3. pedmar10 · July 4, 2019

    It has always baffle me why this anglicisme with the true Gaullist French. In their language they are stickler for grammaire but when it comes to English is an obsession to use its words. Even in business in my office , the funny thing is they use the English word but pronounce it as French so go figure it can’t undertand you lol!!!

    • MELewis · July 4, 2019

      No idea why this is. It is truly a French particularity and I also saw a lot of it at work. How many times did a colleague say something ‘Frenglish’ to me and then be astonished when I had no idea what they meant. “But you are an English native!” they would say. And I would think (but not say): “But that is not really English!” 😄

      • pedmar10 · July 4, 2019

        Exactly. And as speak other European languages they do not mix as the French do. I think for most of them speaking English is an advancement of some sort!

  4. Al in France · July 4, 2019

    This reminds me of the absolutely brilliant and witty set of books by Miles Kington “Let’s Parler Franglais.” I wonder if you have read them? As it says…’Parler franglais c’est un doddle!’

    • MELewis · July 4, 2019

      I have not read them. One of the problems for North Americans is that our vernacular can be so different — I had to look up ‘doddle’! 😂 But Miles Kington was apparently such a wonderful humourist I must definitely try to read one of his books. (I especially like the title he wrote while dying: What will I tell the dog?)

      • Al in France · July 4, 2019

        Even though N. American wording and humour is different, I’m sure that you’d appreciate the play on words and phrases all mixed up in English and French.

  5. phildange · July 4, 2019

    I see only one utility to this downfall of English terms that occurred in the last 40 years . I give you one example among 1000 :
    On the puritan US Facebook, people can “Like”, and now in France people say “J’ai liké”, or “J’ai donné un like” . To like means aimer, but if we said “J’ai aimé” it would be too vague . Using certain English terms, that have a more general meaning in English, only about specific things is a plus .
    Personally I don’t mind that much, because this abuse of English mainly occurs in domains I rather despise : TV ads are literally full of useless anglicisms – and this is THE illustration of my point -, the internet and its multiple “dumbizing” networks, the recent trends in any field, not forgetting the universal moronic desire to include “trendy English” words . It’s OK for me, I prefer sparing my elaborate language the pollution of these sheep-like forms of dumbness .
    But I do appreciate the fact that in certain domains a general English term in France means something specific . We are far from real English but it is practical, new extra vocabulary .

    • MELewis · July 4, 2019

      You do make a good point about retaining the proper meaning of French words, but it goes beyond one specific language. How many words with particular meanings in English have been ‘lost’ to trendy usage? Queer and gay are two examples. So many terms have been taken over with sexual innuendo (just try using ‘happy ending’ in a contemporary context). Still, our languages evolve and change with the times and that is fine with me. Still I would prefer to see French stay French and English English, but without bringing in the grammar police!

  6. Suzanne et Pierre · July 4, 2019

    Another interesting use of English words in French. My best examples are when the French people take English words and gave it a different meaning that no English-speaking would understand: basket (for shoes); footing (for jogging), etc… and obviously pronounced as if they were a French words. I guess languages have been evolving for thousand of years and this is just another way new words are being invented to fit the circumstances. (Suzanne)

    • MELewis · July 4, 2019

      You are right, Suzanne. Languages do evolve and for the most part, I think we have to accept the changes as making it richer. But I do hate jargon and the overuse of English vocabulary in the French business world drives me crazy! Great examples of deformed English words by the way….(although I wonder why they all involve feet? 🤣)

  7. The Pink Agendist · July 4, 2019

    No best of, but here in Mazamet a salon has opened with a sign that says Nail’s & Hair in big metal letters 😁

    • MELewis · July 5, 2019

      Ha, ha….doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, does it?

  8. Dale · July 6, 2019

    Ah la la…. Le best of… Too funny…
    In Québec, that would not fly… l’office de la langue française would pull that sucker right out and definitely insist on using Le meilleur de…

    • MELewis · July 8, 2019

      That’s hilarious! Our Académie Française could take some lessons from your language police! I am looking forward to coming to la belle province soon and soaking up all the little differences in the French language. Thanks to you I’ll know better than to trot out such gems of franglais. 😅

  9. fatdormouse · July 12, 2019

    I have found myself (probably through necessity) mispronouncing English words so the French understand them. The most recent example was when Carrefour had a promotion including Tupperware. I had to ask for my vignettes for le Toooperwairrr
    My surname “Wale” causes difficulty and hilarity. Whenever I’m waiting for a RDV and the secretary calls out “Madame Wal..?Val..? Wuh…?” I know it’s me they want!

    • MELewis · July 16, 2019

      That’s hilarious! Tooper-war is a good one which I also had to learn. And the French don’t too well in pronouncing my surname either. Lay-wees. At least we know it’s for us when they call out our names! 🤗

  10. zipfslaw1 · September 8, 2019

    No “best of” example, although I am always amused to hear something described as “le top du top.”

    Question: would the French expression for a “best of” list be “florilège”?

  11. phildange · September 8, 2019

    Yes “un florilège” is perfect, though it s understood only by people who used to read .

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