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Gratuitous French
"Pretentious? Moi?"
— "Two word joke" of unknown origin, but popularized by Miss Piggy.

From time to time, characters who want to be seen as très intelligentsnote  add un peu de françaisnote  to their speech, n'est-ce pas?note 

This may be because of a certain... je ne sais quoinote , or because French is just—Quel est le mot juste?note cool. And don't forget that French used to be the lingua francanote  of the Western world; educated people would learn it to talk to other educated people, possibly about how uneducated everyone who didn't speak French was. (Now that English has more or less become the new universal language, the trope is often used to underscore the kind of pretentious bohemian character who lives in a world of their own and has no idea how reality works.)

However, native French-speakers usually use English words for the same reason.

Note that this trope's raison d'êtrenote  is for people to appear sophisticated. Pepé Le Pew wouldn't fit here, as he's just a Faux French who thinks that Everything Sounds Sexier in French.

The linguistics blog Notes From A Linguistic Mystic has a name for this—Unnecessary French Syndrome.

Check Trope Names from the French and the Dictionnaire Provisoire for les schémas de noms francophonesnote .

Contrast Gratuitous English, which is used in France to sound, comme disent les anglaisnote , "cool".

Exemples note 

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    General 
  • The majority of examples of It Is Pronounced Tro-PAY are based on French pronunciation of non-French words, including the title if you want to spell it with an accent.
  • Commonly seen in Quebec due to the province's language laws, leading to, for instance, Italian or Asian restaurants advertising their French names and signage in English-language ads running on Plattsburgh/Burlington or Ottawa (or English Quebec) TV stations, since Anglophones have to find the place in French.
  • During some historical periods, French became so dominant among European nobility and academic circles that it often replaced the native languages in public conversation. For example, when King Gustav III of Sweden was shot in 1792 (in Sweden, surrounded by Swedes) his reaction was: "Ah! Je suis blessé. Tirez-moi d'ici et arrêtez-le". (I am wounded. Pull me out of here and stop him.)
    • Indeed, England's national motto is "Dieu et mon Droit." (God and My Right) Yes, the motto of England, as well as the British Sovereign, is in French.
  • For many of the same reasons that the British royals, French—especially Old French—is common in the legal profession in states adopting The Common Law. That reason being—the common law was first established under the Old French-speaking Normans and Angevins, particularly Henry II Curtmantle. Like the Latin phrases in the law, much of the French really is gratuitous (e.g. profit a pendre, which means exactly the same thing as the perfectly serviceable—if equally inscrutable—English phrase "right of common"), some is only semi-necessary (e.g. pur autre vie: while it could be and sometimes is replaced with "for the term of another life," the French is a lot more concise), and some really is necessary (e.g. the word parol in "parol evidence;" although the term means "oral" or "spoken" in the original French, this rule of contract law banning the use of oral pre-contract understandings to contradict written contracts now also—if not primarily—applies to written pre-contract understandings, and couldn't be really expressed with another more "English" word). Many Law French words are not even recognized as French in contemporary English: see "recovery," "tort," "trove," "remainder," "jury," "larceny," "parole," "attorney," "plaintiff," "defendant," "mortgage," "culprit"...
  • In Flanders (the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium) it is still common for people who consider themselves to be upper class to speak French amongst each other. Most other people look down on the bourgeoisie for that.
  • Anthropologie (aside from its name) tends to sell products with nonsensical French brand names like "Moulinette Soeur" (Food Mill Sister)
  • In translations of letters and speeches by Romans their own Gratuitous Greek is sometimes replaced by French, as it has the same connotations but readers are slightly more likely to know what it means.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Arumi's father from Abenobashi Mahou Shoutengai quite often uses this trope as he's a chief who specializes in French cuisine.
  • Much of the music Yoko Kanno provided for Cowboy Bebop is in a weird French-ish language of her own design. Notable tunes in that language include "Cats on Mars".
    • The lyrics of the song "Fantaisie Sign", sung by Carla Vallet, are 100% French.
    • The song "Valse de la Lune" from the Wolf's Rain soundtrack is also completely in French.
  • In the Magical Heart Kokoro-chan OVA, Setsuna (who leaves to study abroad in the main series) plays the part of a mad scientist with a penchant for French phrases.
  • In GaoGaiGar Final, after literally burning Mikoto due to her overheating body, Rune Cardiff Shishioh just walks off saying "Nice to meet you" in French. "Bonjour. Merci. Comment allez-vous?" Hello. Thank you. How are you?" She also adds "Au Revoir" in Super Robot Wars W.
  • Maria-sama Ga Miteru/Maria Watches Over Us is full of this. In the omake Yumi's seiyuu pronounces "(Rosa foetida) en bouton" better than Yoshino's, who "corrects" her, since she is supposed to be bilingual French-Japanese.
  • Strawberry Panic! has this all over the place. Tamao often cites brutal Flench phrases related to the Etoile system. (Fortunately, most of the girls at least say "Étoile" passably.) French is actually a required subject at Miator, but this hasn't helped Shizuma and Rokujou's pronunciation much; pity poor Nagisa, who's getting extra help from them.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Jean-Pierre Polnareff loves using these, especially if there's a lady around.
  • Tomo in Azumanga Daioh speaks French on occasion, such as when she described Osaka's yawn as "très bien".
    • In addition, one of Kaorin's character songs is called "Kaze no Mon-Ami" ("my friend, the wind") and in Chiyo's song "Sarabai! Happy Hen" she greets the moon with a bonsoir.
  • Napoleon (a.k.a. Bonaparte) in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX peppers his speech with rather poor French phrases.
  • Kuroi Tatsuki in Super GALS! Kotobuki Ran uses a few French words.
  • One Piece:
    • Sanji has Gratuitous French in his attack names (all of which are cuisine-based), though most of them were mangled in the English dub.
    • Also, Mr. 2 Bon Clay.
    • And Nico Robin, though it's only ever the one word, combined with healthy doses of Gratuitous Spanish and Gratuitous English
  • Tamaki from Ouran High School Host Club is half-French, half-Japanese, and loves to say how Kyouya is "[son] ami!!!!" With the tonic accent on "a" instead of "mi". French speakers appreciate the subtitles.
  • The anime Gankutsuou has some French at the beginning of each episode. Justified as based on The Count of Monte Cristo, a French novel by Alexandre Dumas, that is mostly set in France.
  • In the English dub of the Fruits Basket anime, there is a line shouted by either Shigure or Ayame that sounds suspiciously like the French equivalent of "THE AIRPLANE! WHERE IS THE BATHTUB?" In the original Japanese, they shout "Je t'aime, mon amour! Bon voyage!" — "I love you, my love! have a nice trip!"
  • Taki from Eyeshield 21 calls people "monsieur" for some reason.
  • Most of the track titles on the Rebuild of Evangelion soundtracks are in French. Either that or they're a mess of numbers, letters, and underscores.
  • If you pause the player at the beginning of the fourth episode of Zero no Tsukaima, you can read the letter to the principal. While it's not exactly bad French, the grammar is a bit off sometimes.
  • Fantina from the Pokémon anime peppers her speech with French phrases in the English dub. In the original Japanese she peppers her speech with English instead.
    • Cabernet/Burgundy from Black and White does this quite often, often times coming with a Bilingual Bonus. Just about every other word of hers is in French.
    • This also reveals that Cilan speaks French as well, most notably during their tasting time duet. They shot off back and forth either speaking in figurative English or French.
  • Di Gi Charat: So gratuitous, translators don't even realize it's meant to be French.
  • Sherry Leblanc from Yu-Gi-Oh 5D's. Her name is bad enough, but her cae monster's name is "Fleur de Chevalier", which (because it is grammatically incorrect) literally means "Flower of Knight" "Fleur du Chevalier" is the corrent name. The English game translates it as "Chevalier de Fleur", or (again, due to grammar) "Knight of Flower".
  • A Japanese CD called Sailor Moon Super S in Paris is made of this trope. The lyrics are nonsense most of the time, being versions of the Japanese lyrics with French peppered in.
  • Continuity Reboot Sailor Moon Crystal, despite being more prone to English borrowings, has the French phrase, A Suivre on its To Be Continued card, to go along with Alphonse Mucha-esque Art Nouveau imagery.
  • The Five Star Stories features this when Lachesis' true form is revealed.
  • Let's not forget La Fillette Révolutionnaire Utena.
  • Marginal Prince features Henri-Hugues de Saint Germain, Paris-born member of a French noble family. In an international boarding school surrounding where English is presumed to be the language of consent, he throws in some French here and there, most notably when drawing his tarot cards (which are in French, of course) or when commenting on other characters' behaviour. The latter makes him much a French Jerk, especially in Alfred's eyes.
  • Star Driver has a number of French terms: all the Star Swords are named after precious stones in French (Emeraude, Saphir, Diamant, etc.), all pilots activate their Cybody with a cry of "Apprivoiser!", and several characters have French-derived names, such as Ivronge and Simone.
  • All written text in the anime of Kami-sama no Inai Nichiyoubi is in French.

    Comicbooks 

    Fan Works 
  • Red Fire, Red Planet has Ensign Jacques Pierre, who is from Quebec, say goodbye to his fiancee Ens. Kate McMillan as follows:
    Je t’aime. Au revoir, ma chérie.Translation 

    Films — Animation 
  • Monsieur Incroyable in The Incredibles.
  • Shrek: Robin Hood, who despite being a British folklore character, speaks with a French accent for no particular reason.
  • Freedom Force does a lot to remind you where the setting is. 'Tis annoying after a while, non?

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Swearing in the The Matrix Reloaded:
    The Merovingian: Château Haut-Brion 1959, magnificent wine, I love French wine, like I love the French language. I have sampled every language, French is my favourite - fantastic language, especially to curse with. Nom de Dieu de putain de bordel de merde de saloperie de connard d'enculé de ta mère. My God, it's like wiping your ass with silk, I love it.
    :: For French Cursing 101 and an analysis of this sentence, just check here. In the French version of the movie, the Merovingian still speaks French. (Cue most French viewers almost expecting the characters to look at each other, giggle and go, "Yeah... And?")
  • Spoofed in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery: "He has what the French call a certain... I don't know what." Fridge Brilliance: "je ne sais quoi", used to mean "An intangible quality that makes something distinctive or attractive" in English directly translates to "I don't know what" in French. He also says "I don't know what" with the same emphasis one would use with "je ne sais quoi."
  • Played for laughs in the buddy cop film Bon Cop, Bad Cop (which deals with two cops from Quebec and Ontario) with a bilingual Cluster F-Bomb: "Shit de fuck de shit de merde de shit de câlisse de TABARNAC!"
  • In The Addams Family, Gomez goes wild with passion whenever Morticia speaks French. The French dubbing switches this to Spanish.
  • Intolerable Cruelty: Heinz, the Baron Krauss Von Espy says Marilyn Rexroth (played by Catherine Zeta-Jones) asked him for "a man whom she could herself brazenly cuckold, until such time as she might choose to, we would say, 'faire un coup de marteau sur des fesses.'" (Intended translation: nail his ass; literal translation: do a hammer blow on butts; Baron's own translation: Make hammer on his fanny.)
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail: "Fetchez la vache!". Note that "Fetchez" is not an actual verb, but that was probably on purpose. And it's still shorter than the proper French for it ("Amenez la vache" or "Allez chercher la vache"). It's a case of Franglish actually. The verb "to fetch" was mixed with the French suffix _ez.
  • In Eve's Bayou, the characters often speak in French or Creole because it takes place in Louisiana.
  • In Trading Places, when Eddie Murphy's character is confronted in a bar and is called a motherfucker, he responds with "Motherfucker? Moi?".
  • The Trading Places example gets a Shout-Out in Terminator 2: Judgment Day as a young John Connor enquires: "Dipshit? Did you just call moi a dipshit?"
  • The title of Hot Shots! Part Deux.
  • To get the effect of French Creole speakers in The Feast Of All Saints without using subtitles, the characters speak predominately English with French accents, liberally sprinkled with French/Creole.
  • It's generally the opposite in Canada where French Canadians have traditionally been an underclass. This leads to an inversion in The Rocket when the Anglophone coach congratulates his Francophone players for winning the Stanley Cup in French. It's seen as a surprising moment of him lowering himself to show his appreciation.
  • In Kate and Leopold, Leopold hears that Kate's boss speaks French fluently, so he says something in French to show that the man doesn't know what he's talking about. Then Leopold says that he doesn't know that much French actually so he had probably said the only line in French that he knows.
  • Averted in Django Unchained: Plantation owner Candie has a Foreign Culture Fetish for the French, demanding to be called "Monsieur" Candie, but doesn't speak it at all (and doesn't like people speaking it to him). The only French sentence spoken in the movie (by Dr. Schultz) is perfectly correct.
  • Princess of Thieves: Milder than most, but the Baroness, who is loyal to Prince John, speaks with a French accent and threw in the occasional French term.
  • For reasons attributable only to indie film quirkiness, the entire soundtrack of Ruby Sparks consists of French songs.
  • An Education: Used often by Jenny, out of the blue and lampshaded bluntly by Helen:
    Helen: You have a French conversation teacher? Is that why you suddenly speak French? For no reason?

    Literature 
  • In English Literature it was pretty common up until the 1980's for authors to regularly throw in a few French phrases here and there. It was a sign of an educated person to "know a bit of French". If you didn't, tant pis - too bad for you.
  • Lolita. Good luck trying to figure out what they hell everyone's talking about if you aren't bilingual, because occasionally plot-relevant information is given only in French. Humbert is particularly given to this, and he gets kinda snooty when other characters use bad French. At one point, Lolita even calls him on this, saying that people find it rather annoying when he speaks French.
  • Samuel Weller's father in The Pickwick Papers.
  • Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot is Belgian and doesn't speak English fluently, so that character's use of French phrases is justified. Except that he actually uses less French than Christie's sympathetic English characters, who pepper their speech with French phrases. The reason is that Christie associated the use of French phrases with intelligent sophistication, not with arrogant pretension.
  • Most characters in 19th century Russian novels are either fluent in French or follow this trope. Of course, French was the official language of the court of Imperial Russia.
    • Likewise with the Erast Fandorin novels.
    • Happens all the time throughout War and Peace, sometimes with entire pages of untranslated French.
  • Lord Peter Wimsey of the Dorothy L. Sayers crime novels frequently indulges in them. However, he a) IS not only sophisticated but also fluent in French and b) is usually conversing with other English people who can be expected (in the '20s) to have had significant French-language exposure at school.
  • Partly because of his admiration for French Enlightenment writers, partly because his native German sometimes lacked just the right word or phrase, Friedrich Nietzsche sometimes used French words and phrases (as well as ones from other languages) in his books. The most famous of these is undoubtedly ressentiment, and the penultimate section of Ecce Homo concludes with a motto from Voltaire.
  • In the original Ian Fleming Casino Royale novel, M is reading a report by Head of S in which the latter states that Le Chiffre is in the mess he's in because the chain of legal brothels he was running using embezzled party funds were closed by a 1946 French law usually referred to as "la loi Marthe Richard", which criminalised them. Head of S gives the full French title of the law note . M rings him up, asks what (it is implied) "proxénétisme" means — pimping (literally, "procuring"). M then responds:
    "This is not the Berlitz School of Languages, Head of S. The next time you want to show off your knowledge of foreign jaw-breakers, be so good as to use a cribnote . Better still, write in English."
  • Holly Golightly in the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's does this often, usually incorrectly; so did her creator, Truman Capote, and many of his society friends who wanted to seem more society than they were.
  • In Young Adult Novel, when Horace Gerstenblut, the Lord High Executioner (i.e. vice-president) of Himmler High School, tells the Wild Dada Ducks that since they are not a recognized student activity they effectively don't exist, they decide to retaliate by printing a few hundred cards reading "Horace Gerstenblut n'existe pas" and distributing them in the school bathrooms. The cards were highly popular, though dozens of students had to ask what the words meant.
  • Bertie Wooster in P. G. Wodehouse's novels often uses French phrases, sometimes wondering if they're correct (according to the footnotes, usually yes). Jeeves is equally prone to this. From the Jeeves-narrated "Bertie Changes His Mind":
    Tact, of course, has always been with me a sine qua non;note  while as for resource, I think I may say that I have usually contrived to show a certain modicum of what I might call finesse in handling those little contretemps which inevitably arise from time to time in the daily life of a gentleman’s personal gentleman.
  • In the Discworld novel Hogfather, a fancy restaurant names all their dishes in the pseudo-French language Quirmian. It's amazing how many fancy French titles they can give to dishes made out of mud and old boots.
  • A running joke in Fool, a book by the same author as Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, concerning the fool from King Lear as the protagonist, is the main character's fondness for the following phrase: "'Moi!?' I said, In perfect fucking French."
  • The Spanish Language Novel Aura by Carlos Fuentes includes whole segments in French, segments that apparently provide important clues to the plot.
  • The character of Jean Claude from the Anita Blake series is very, very guilty of this. Most of what he says is complete bullshit to a native French-speaker, as a result of the author's sloppy research.
  • In Jane Eyre, Adele almost always speaks in French. Justified as she is, after all, a French girl, but the multi-paragraph chunks of French can be daunting to the non-bilingual reader.
  • Charlotte Brontë did the same in The Professor: set in French-speaking Brussels, the English protagonist maintains several conversations with non-anglophones in French.
  • This trope is played with periodically in the case of Nell Harris. She is depicted as unworldly, verging on CloudCuckoolander-territory, but is in fact both intelligent and wise. In Aunt Dimity's Good Deed, she disguises herself as a French girl who is Willis Sr.'s ward and speaks French as a part of the cover, getting information from locals about Gerald Willis. Years later, she falls for Kit Smith, then her father's stable master and twice her age (She's 16, he's 32). He doesn't want to take advantage of her youth and tells her so, but he sneaks into her grandfather's estate to see her after her riding accident in Aunt Dimity Takes a Holiday. When he goes to leave her bedside, he says, "I...I should go. Good-bye, Nell." She replies, "Au revoir, Kit." The French phrase can be literally translated as, "until our next meeting," making it clear she still loves him and intends to pursue the relationship.
  • Appears occasionally in the Red Dwarf novels by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, where the narration will occasionally use a French adjective. For example, Rimmer once gives a false smile which is described as trompe-l'oeil note .
  • Appears frequently in Fancy Nancy's book series. Using French in order to look sophisticated is an essential trait of Nancy's personality.
  • Suspicion by Swiss author Friedrich Dürrenmatt has a character named Edith Marlok whose Catch Phrase is C'est ça.
  • In spades from Eugenia Münster and Felix Young, the protagonists of Henry James' The Europeans, who regularly pepper their speech with French phrases, and often use the French pronunciation of words which the two languages have in common, such as "type".

    Live-Action TV 
  • Subverted in Only Fools and Horses, wherein Del Boy tries to use French to seem intelligent, but constantly, CONSTANTLY gets it wrong... to the point of saying bonjour to mean "goodbye" and au revoir to mean "hello". Perhaps most memorable amongst the mangled Del-speak French is his expansive exhortation of bonnet de douche – 'shower cap'.
    • Lampshaded in one of the last specials in which they actually go to France:
      Del: One of my favourite French dishes is duck à l'orange. [...] How do they say "duck" in French?
      Rodney: It's "canard".
      Del: You can say that again, bruv.
    • Lampshaded in an earlier episode
      Rodney: Del, you can't speak French. You're still struggling with English.
    • Word of God is that Del has failed to grasp that French phrases actually mean things at all.
  • In Doctor Who, the Tenth Doctor has a habit of using the phrase "Allons-y!" ("Let's go!") every now and then in both the show and the new novels. This and his use of "molto bene" (Italian for "very good"/"very well") end up saving his butt in "Midnight" when the Hostess recognizes the words are coming out of the wrong person.
    • The critical work "Inside the TARDIS", describing the Male Gaze of the camera when Zoe's around, drops into French to name which area of her body it keeps lingering on. Her "derrière".
  • Dollhouse plays this one to a regrettable T. In eipsode 8 (Needs), doll Tango appears with her handler during a tense escape scene. She's speaking French, but instead of a Bilingual Bonus, it ends up causing unintentional levity for some tropers, because the dialogue is stiltedly written and painfully delivered. In heavily American-accented French, Tango remarks:
    "Chaque mot que tu dis c'est comme un [?] mes oreilles." ("Every word you say it is like a [?] my ears.")
    "Les véhicles [?] c'est dégoûtant." ("The vehicles [?] it's disgusting.")
    "Je ne sais pas pour qui j'ai [sic] continué à employer ce service de voiture en Los Angeles." ("I don't know for who I've continued to use this vehicle service in Los Angeles.")
  • Iron Chef is a Japanese cooking show. Its successor, Iron Chef America, is an American version. Both have the same call to arms, "Allez cuisine!" Which translates roughly to "Go kitchen!", except for being even less grammatical.
  • Much to the detriment of many a Hells Kitchen fan, Benjamin from season 7.
    Benjamin: Oui, Chef!
  • On White Collar, Keller is guilty of this.
    Keller: Are you familiar with the term... "Pis aller"?
    Peter: My French is a little rusty.
    • Mozzie, too.
  • One Monty Python sketch is basically two Frenchmen talking about a flying sheep in French.
  • In one episode of Fawlty Towers, Sybil told the "Pretentious? Moi?" joke to Audrey over the phone.
  • The "French" Captain Jean-Luc Picard drops the occasional French-ism in the early seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, most notably a well-placed "merde" in "Encounter at Farpoint". Later, they mostly just let him be British.
    • Q does this sometimes, calling Picard "mon capitan" just to get on his nerves.
  • Enter in Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters, whose catchphrase is Ça va, Go-Busters? ("How are you, Go-Busters?") He's also fond of saying "non, non, non!" when trying to placate his Bad Boss. He has many other French-isms.
  • Pierre Alfonso Oren of Kamen Rider Gaim is every bit as fond of French as Enter is, though they don't share any catchphrases. C'est bon! In his early appearances, we got little speech bubbles translating them onscreen, but that didn't last. Even his name is an example: his real name proves to be a much more Japanese Gennosuke Oren.
  • Lampshaded in 30 Rock after Liz has her first executive lunch:
    "Who's got two thumbs, speaks limited French, and hasn't cried once today? This moi".
  • The Hour has Marnie speaking some on her cooking show, as well as when talking to Camille, who is french.

    Music 
  • The second verse of Electric Light Orchestra's "Hold On Tight" is in French; more specifically, it's the first verse translated into French.
  • The first half of Les Étoiles by Melody Gardot is in French.
  • The Beatles song "Michelle," which is about professing love to a non-Anglophone French girl. (Sont des mots qui vont très bien ensemble and translated by the Beatles as "These are words that go together well.")
  • Cole Porter liked having portions of his songs sung in French, often for no other justifiable reason than Everything Sounds Sexier in French. In "It's De-Lovely," one of the singers chides the other for "falling into Berlitz French."
  • The Michelle Branch song "Till I Get Over You" has some gratuitous French in the chorus. It's coherent enough unless you read the album notes, which transcribe it wrong and then translate it wrong.
  • Minako Aino's song "C'est La Vie ~ Watashi No Naka No Koi Suru Bubun" in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon is a bit off in its understanding of the phrase "C'est la vie." "C'est la vie" means "That's life" but in a way roughly analogous to "shit happens", so the sentance "Atsui kimochi wa C'est la vie (This warm feeling is C'est la vie)" is a bit odd.
  • The Talking Heads' song "Psycho Killer" has the bridge (as well as the hook "Psycho killer, qu'est que c'est?") sung in French, giving the song just that extra hint of derangement.
  • Ian Dury & The Blockheads — "Hit me with your rhythm stick! Je t'adore, Ich liebe dich!"
  • "Lady Marmalade"'s classic Intercourse with You "voulez-vous coucher avec moi (ce soir)?" . Justified by the fact that the song is set in New Orleans.
  • Billy Idol: "Les yeux sans visage... Eyes without a face" (both phrases have the same meaning).
  • Billy Joel's song "C'etait toi/You are the one" sings the entire song twice, once in English, once in French.
  • The Agonist song Martyr Art has a French outro, and Revenge of the Dadaists has a French intro. Less gratuitous than most, however, since they are from the French-speaking Canadian province of Quebec.
  • Ottawa-based experimental grindcore act Fuck the Facts, who usually have at least two or three French-language tracks per album, give or take some (Amer, their most recent EP, has only one English-language track). Interestingly, Melanie Mongeon is a Francophone by default and spoke very little English when she joined, and she essentially learned English by forcing herself to write the majority of her lyrics in it.
  • Contrary to what anyone in Muse might believe, the song "I Belong to You (Mon Cœur S'ouvre à ta Voix)" actually contains the phrase "Riponds à ma tendress-uh".
  • Lady Gaga has some gratuitous French in the bridge of "Bad Romance." Extra points for being timed so the next line (actually "I don't wanna be friends") sounds like "I DON'T WANNA BE FRENCH!" And more extra points for uncomfortably squeezing in an extra syllable for the French ("I want your love and I want your revenge" = 10; "Je veux ton amour et je veux ta revanche" = 11), its first iteration in the single swallows "veux" ("want") almost completely.
    "And for no reason now I'll sing in French / Excusez-moi, Qui a pété?" note 
  • Janet Jackson has some of this in her 1986 song "Funny How Time Flies (When You're Having Fun)". When translated, it basically describes the song.
  • Daft Punk, despite being (emphatically) French, has virtually all its songs in English. Nevertheless, when they released their anthology, what did they title it? Musique Vol. 1.
  • Art vs. Science's song "Parlez-vous Français?", naturally, has plenty of gratuitous French in it. The line "Si tu peux le parler allez tombez la chemise" actually says "If you speak it, take your shirt off", most likely a reference to the song "Tomber La Chemise", which was quite a hit in France in 1998.
  • Uffie's song "Robot Oeuf". Probably will be more common now that she's based in Paris. The song, however has no French to speak of. Just the title.
  • Kasabian's 'La Fée Verte'.
  • The Police song "Hungry for You (J'aurais Toujours Faim de Toi)", as you can probably tell by the parentheses, is almost entirely in French (one lone chorus gets sung in English towards the end).
  • In Aine Furey's haunting song "13 wishes" most of the last verse is sung in French; even for high school speakers, "Elle est la fille, elle est la fleur... La bohème qui vive pour l'amour" is clear enough; the intervening line, not so much.
  • 311's song "Salsa" lampshades this in the line "Je vais à la plage parce que le guignol est chouette! I kick nonsense in French tasty like Crepe Suzette". This translates to "I go to the beach because the Punch and Judy show is cool!"
  • Judas Priest's 1977 song "Saints In Hell" has Rob Halford randomly howling: "Abattoir! Abattoir! Mon Dieu, quel horreur!" (Abattoir roughly means "slaughterhouse.")
  • Shakira does this in her song "Something" (first verse, repeated later in the song).
  • Ricchi e Poveri's "Voulez-vous Danser" ("Do you want to dance"). The song is in the singers' native Italian, except for the titular question, asked at the beginning and end of each verse.
  • Eric Bogle's "Flying Finger Filler" contains a stanza in (intentionally) bad French. Of course, the entire song is not supposed to make any sense.
  • Peter Gabriel's "Games Without Frontiers" features Kate Bush repeatedly singing the title in French ("jeux sans frontieres").
  • MGMT's live EP Qu'est-ce que c'est la vie, chaton? - it translates to "What Is Life, Kitten?"
  • Kylie Minogue:
    • "Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi" (lit: "I Don't Know Why") in her early career featuring the title prominently.
    • "Your Disco Needs You" also has a bridge spoken in French.
  • Flight of the Conchords perform Foux de Fa Fa, which is basically the fragments of French that they remember from school shoehorned into song form to try to impress women.
    Pamplemousse! ...Ananas! ...Jus d'orange! ...Boeuf!
    Soup du jour! ...Camembert! ...Jacques Cousteau! ...Baguette!
  • The chorus of Rush's "Circumstances" has the line "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" followed by the English translation, "The more that things change, the more they stay the same."
  • One of the verses of Queensrÿche's "I Don't Believe in Love" contains the phrase "No chance for contact, there's no raison d'etre".
  • Les Savy Fav were known for this in their early days. There's gratuitous French in the first track on their debut, an album which also has a song called "Je T'aime". The band name itself means nothing.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Roz Chast drew "The Man who was Admired for his Lack of Lack of Pretense", depicting a man decked out in smoking jacket, ascot and cigarette holder, in his apartment scattered with objets d'artenote  on pedestals - he's saying to us "Let's only speak French for a while."

    Pinball 

    Puppet Show 

    Radio 
  • In an episode of Revolting People, Joshua attempts to sound sophisticated by adding gratuitous French expressions to his speech, despite having no idea what any of them mean (and thus invariably using them inappropriately). When Sam points this out, Joshua responds that everybody knows French is just decorative and it doesn't matter what the words mean — and anyway, he doesn't know what most words in English mean either, and he's never let that stop him.

    Stand-up Comedy 
  • Eddie Izzard. Fluent in French, he has been known to perform his stand-up specials in French for French-speakers, and frequently includes segments in French in front of English-speaking audiences. Same goes for German, but that's a different trope.
    • "Ou est la plume de mon oncle?" "La plume de mon oncle est bingy bongy dingy dangy..."
    • "By the way, if you don't speak French, then all that was fucking funny"
  • Averted by George Carlin during the introduction to his album Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics, where he makes a point to tell us that he will not be using the French adverb trèsnote  to modify any English words.

    Theater 
  • Lampshaded in the Act I finale of Iolanthe: While it has long been accepted as part of the English lexicon, peer and peri alike remind the audience that "the word 'prestige' is French." They also point out the origins of "canaille," "pleb," and "hoi polloi" (which, incidentally, mean more or less the same thing). So you have "a Latin word, a Greek remark, and one that's French."
  • In A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanche briefly talks French to Mitch, but finds that he doesn't understand.
    "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir? Vous ne comprenez pas? Ah, quel dommage!" note 
  • The Strauss opera Die Fledermaus has two characters pretending to be French at a Viennese ball. They exchange simple phrases until the other guests demand they speak German.
  • Anything Goes has a chorus in which "bon voyage" is pronounced incorrectly and correctly, and a few other phrases are correctly rendered in French.
  • The musical The Cat and the Fiddle, set in Brussels, had lots of French spoken and sung by characters, including one long musical scene entirely in French.
  • In Hamlet, despite the setting being Denmark, Hamlet and his father both break in to French, saying "Adieu" instead "good-bye" for no apparent reason. Laertes, having returned from France, does not.
  • In Cabaret, many of the phrases in the opening number "Willkommen" are sung in Gratuitous German, then in Gratuitous French, then in Gratuitous English.
  • In Act III, Scene I of Twelfth Night, Sir Andrew Aguecheek is Suddenly Bilingual enough to have a brief exchange with Viola in French. (Earlier in the play, he didn't even know the word "pourquoi".)
    Sir Andrew: Dieu vous garde, monsieur.
    Viola: Et vous aussi. Votre serviteur.
  • In Camelot, though Lancelot's "C'est Moi" is entirely in English aside from the title, he also (at the start of the second act) sings to Guenevere a chanson whose first verse is in French.
In South Pacific, "Dites Moi" is entirely in French. Reasonable; it's a song being sung by two Malayo-French children.

    Video Games 
  • Mid-Boss from Disgaea: Hour of Darkness is fond of using "moi" in place of "me" during his dramatic speeches, simply because it sounds exotic.
    • The original script had him using Gratuitous English as well, which obviously wouldn't work if translated literally.
    • He uses Gratuitous French in the original script as well, saying "Mademoiselle".
  • Mitsuru Kirijo of Persona 3 is prone to dropping a phrase or two at times, at least in the English dub. Then again, considering that she's the girl with the highest marks in school, she might actually know a fair bit of French.
    • "'Tray ben?' What does that mean? That's not English is it?"
    • The French exchange student, on the other hand, spouts Gratuitous Japanese. Go figure.
    • Akihiko gets in on the action in the PSP remake.
  • Kindle from Advance Wars
  • Not-gay-at-all chef Jean Armstrong speaks almost exclusively in these in the third Ace Attorney game. Played with when he begins to break down on the stand — he throws "Por favor" into the mix, only to find out that The Judge speaks Spanish and calls him on it. Of course, he mostly adds "le" before nouns, even nouns that are feminine in French.
  • Waka in Ōkami uses French cliché phrases from time to time in the American translation. In the original Japanese version, he used Gratuitous English, but that wouldn't have translated well.
  • Ruby Heart in Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age Of Heroes. Or at least it's supposed to be French. You can barely tell.
  • Fantina speaks gratuitous French in the English version of Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum. In the original Japanese version, her name was Melissa and she spoke gratuitous English.
  • The Belgian Jeanette "Angel" Devereaux of the Wing Commander series often inserts French words and phrases into her speech, (for example, "Oui, mon colonel") and commonly refers to people as "monsieur" or ("mademoiselle" for Spirit).
  • The Spy in Team Fortress 2 uses a heavy French accent and numerous gratuitous French lines (and one or two Gratuitous Spanish lines as well). As part of a running development theme, his lines have numerous grammar errors ("ma petit chou-fleur" would be used to refer to a man, not a woman), and his voice actor isn't French. In the French Team Fortress 2, the Spy has some Gratuitous English in his lines instead.
  • One of the preps in Bully refers to himself as nouveau riche because he's ashamed to admit that his father is a self-made man.
  • Segundo from Beyond Good & Evil mixes Gratuitous French, Gratuitous Spanish, and Gratuitous Italian in a fairly random way. He doesn't just do so in English. The other dubs also portray him with a strange mishmash of accents and vocabulary, but with bonus Gratuitous Anglicisms, too!
  • In the instruction manual for Brütal Legend, the description for a Grim Reaper unit lists a number of synonyms for death, including "petite mort", which is literally French for "little death". Unfortunately (or possibly intentionally), it's also an idiom for "orgasm", which is hopefully not related to the monster in question.
  • "Bonjour! My name's Billy Jean Blackwood!"
  • The Coin Block people in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story speak in a French accent. Broque Monsieur might count as a French Jerk in that he hates Mario for "lowering the value" of Blocks and will tell him to scram if he comes by his shop.
    • Although when generic NPC versions of their species appear in Dream Team, they speak normally; Broques Monsieur and Madame retain their accents.
  • The Metal Gear series throws this around a little: The 'Les Enfants Terribles' project and 'Militaires Sans Frontières' to name a couple of instances.
    • Neither of these really qualify as gratuitous en soi. Les Enfants Terribles is named after Jean Cocteau's novel of the same name and the Médecins sans Frontières pun wouldn't really work in any other language.
  • Yoh from Starry☆Sky, who is a half, occasionally spouts a few lines of French. Although they might be grammatically correct for the most part, the pronunciation and spelling are terrible. His full name, Henri Samuel Jean Aimée, also counts as an example - a great name, given you're 200 years old.
  • Larxene's weapons in Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days all have French names. And she's seen reading a book called ''Marquis de Sade'' in Chain of Memories.
  • Innes Lorenz from Tales of Hearts deserves an honorable mention, since all of her artes contain french words.
  • A few items in Radiant Historia have French names, as does the continent on which it takes place, Vainqueur ("conqueror").
  • Night Trap has Mr. Martin saying a couple of these, either because he is French or is trying to sound like it.
  • Tales of the Abyss has the spell Eclair de L'armes (Flash of Tears, though due to apostrophe turns it into Flash of the Weapon) and it's Fo F Change, Flamme Rouge.
  • Almost every line from Harle in Chrono Cross. The foppish Fake Ultimate Hero Pierre peppers his speech with French as well.
  • Solatorobo is an interesting example: while all the written dialogue is in whatever language you choose, the voice clips (exclamations, etc.) are in French, but with obvious Japanese accents (i.e. Japanese Ranguage). Some of the expressions used come off more as Curse of The Ancients than a real insult. Signs, however, are written in perfectly correct French.
  • Everywhere in Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure. Even the characters without French accents speak French from time to time. Then again, the game IS set in France.
  • This is all over the place in Pokémon X and Y, due to the region of Kalos being based on France. For instance:
    • Almost all the routes in Kalosnote  and streets in Lumiose City bear French names.
    • In the cafes, the items on the menu are known by their French names.
    • Quite a few characters also pepper their speech with French words, such as Professor Sycamore.
    • The Pokémon Furfrou is based on a poodle, a French breed of dog. Interestingly, it says the French onomatopoeia for barking "ouaf-ouaf" rather than the English "woof", or its name.
    • Finally, there's Lumiose City itself, which is quite obviously based on the city of Paris - complete with an Eiffel Tower Expy known as Prism Tower (which is also the location of the Lumiose City Gym.)
  • Spider-Man: Edge of Time: When Spidey 2099 informs Amazing Spidey that he can't access the present day Alchemax's archives, Amazing Spidey sarcastically responses "Quelle surprise!" note 
  • In Devil May Cry 4, one of the chapter titles is "La Porte de l'Enfer", which means "The Hell Gate" (literally "The Door of Hell").
  • In the Japanese version of Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning's real name is Éclair Farron. Éclair means "lightning" in French. The English release changed it to Claire, likely because English speakers equate the word "éclair" with a type of pastry rather than a lightning strike.
  • In The Matrix Path Of Neo the Merovingian is prone to this when he get's angry, also see The Matrix Reloaded example above.

    Web Comics 

     Western Animation 
  • SpongeBob SquarePants is prone to this, though we never find out why. Also, the narrator of the show speaks not only in the same voice, but with a thick French accent.
  • The Simpsons loves to go about Frenchifying the characters' dialogue. Bart, for example, once described his mischief as being "Bartesque". When taking the family to see an artsy-fartsy French-Canadian circus, Lisa mentions that "We've had tickets since septembre!" (which, if you're curious, is pronounced something like "set-OM-brrr"). And Marge actually once said "Tres bien" after hearing a menu item described to her by a waiter - somewhat justified since she's in a fancy restaurant, and really justified when you remember that Marge's family (the Bouviers) are of French ancestry.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has this quite a bit.
    • Fluttershy's rant about Rarity's dress in "Suited For Success" has her use the phrases prêt-à-porter and haute couture.
    • The voice Pinkie Pie gives Madame LeFlour ("her" name itself an example) in "Party of One". "Oui! Zat eez correct, madame."
    • Happens again in "The Cutie Pox" when Apple Bloom suddenly gets a Fleur de Lis cutie mark, causing her to speak French.
    • Apple Bloom still speaks French in the French dub, just French from about 300 years ago.
      Applejack: My sister's speakin' in Fancy!
    • "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000" has the Flim Flam Brothers refer to themselves as traveling salesponies nonpareils.
    • More on the side of sophisticated but non-pretentious: In season 1 episode one Rarity exclaims:
      Rarity: Oh my stars, darling! Whatever happened to your coiffure?!
    • She also use "Crême de la crême" at least twice in the two first seasons.
    • In "Sweet and Elite", a slender, top-model-like mare is shown along with Fancy Pants. She has a Fleur de Lys for cutie-mark.
    • In "Magic Duel", The Great and Powerful Trixie show off her boastfullness:
      TGAPT: Cheated? Moi?
    • And her human counterpart does it as well in the Equestria Girls movie after getting some peanut butter crackers from a vending machine.
      TGAPT: Voilà!
  • Emily from Arthur loves to randomly sprinkle her sentences with French words. Most of the time, it's unnecessary.
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "The Clock King": The Clock King loves it: Adieu, En garde!, Au contraire
  • Napoleon Jones often speaks French in The Magic Adventures Of Mumfie. There was even a whole episode about it.


Très bien, très bien, mes amis! Vous êtes tous magnifiques. note 
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alternative title(s): Gratuitous French Phrases; Le French
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