Tommy French (Kindle)
How British First World War Soldiers Turned French into Slang
As featured in The Times: 'How troops in the trenches learnt to parlay Franglais'
‘Napoo’, ‘compray’, ‘san fairy ann’, ‘toot sweet’ are anglicized French phrases that came into use on the Western Front during the First World War as British troops struggled to communicate in French. Over four years of war they created an extraordinary slang which reflects the period and brings the conflict to mind whenever it is heard today.
Julian Walker, in this original and meticulously researched book, explores the subject in fascinating detail. In the process he gives us an insight into the British soldiers’ experience in France during the war and the special language they invented in order to cope with their situation.
He shows how French place-names were anglicized as were words for food and drink, and he looks at what these slang terms tell us about the soldiers’ perception of France, their relationship with the French and their ideas of home. He traces the spread of ‘Tommy French’ back to the Home Front, where it was popularized in songs and on postcards, and looks at the French reaction to the anglicization of their language.
A Fascinating piece of social history.Books Monthly
How troops in the trenches learnt to parlay FranglaisThe Times 03/03/21
A linguistic historian has created the first in-depth guide to the “Tommy French” that arose from the interactions of English-speaking troops with civilians