Spotted on an advertising hoarding in the Paris metro: the most extravagant mix of phoneticised French and franglais I have yet come across. It was an ad for Keljob (quel job), a recruitment agency, promising “le speed recrutement” and “des ateliers coaching” (atelier meaning workshop in French).
The number of French firms using phonetic spelling is proliferating. Alongside Keljob there is Kiloutou (qui loue tout, or who rents everything), a machinery-rental company, or Kelcoo (quel cout, or what price), a price-comparison internet service. Then there is Meetic (mythique) an online dating site, Sajoo (ça joue, or it’s playing), a web gambling site, and Amagiz (à ma guise, in my own way), an insurer. The phonetic shorthand of text-messaging in French—kdo for cadeau (present) and so forth—has certainly helped to overturn the traditional rules of the language, particularly for companies whose brand is all about upending conventions.
The intrusion of franglais into French advertising also continues apace. Examples that spring to mind include Livret BforBank, Crédit Agricole’s new online private bank, or Freebox, the digital television decoder from Free, a French telecoms firm. Many companies simply splash a slogan in English on their ads, and then translate it in small print on the bottom as is required by French law.
What makes Keljob’s ad stand out is the brazen mix of all of the above. The French have a body whose job it is to defend the purity of the French language. Article 24 of the statutes of the Académie Française state that “The principal function of the Académie is to work, with all possible care and diligence, to give clear rules to our language and to render it pure, eloquent and capable of treating arts and science.” While the académiciens toil away, the creatives of the French advertising world seem to be busy throwing out their rules with abandon.
The Economist/Johnson blog
See also: The Death of French culture, The Economist