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Tommy French (ePub)

How British First World War Soldiers Turned French into Slang

WWI Military

By Julian Walker
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
File Size: 30.0 MB (.epub)
Pages: 224
ISBN: 9781526765932
eBook Released: 25th May 2021


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National publicity

As featured in The Times'How troops in the trenches learnt to parlay Franglais'

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‘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 Franglais

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

The Times 03/03/21

About Julian Walker

Julian Walker is a leading authority on First World War slang and manages the international project ‘Languages and the First World War’. He has convened conferences on the subject and lectured and written extensively about it. His previous books include Trench Talk, Languages and the First World War and Words and the First World War. He reckons his own French is about as good as that of the average second lieutenant in 1916.

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