Posts Tagged With: Bastien

Slightly More French

Julien Quentin, from Au Revoir Mes Enfants, from yggnoise.com

Last week we talked about French names which could work just as well in the English-speaking world. Now it’s time for a look at the flip side of the coin at which popular French names are less likely to work well, whether it be due to cultural settings or pronunciation problems. This list is subject to opinion, however, as what I’m not saying is that you should avoid all names mentioned here. What I am saying is that these names have the potential to cause fret if used outside a French-speaking region. In the last post I highlighted the name Thibault, with the less than obvious pronunciation of tee-bo – but there are plenty of other French names which could trip you up when it comes to trying to say them correctly:

That’s one of the biggest issue when it comes to using names from other cultures: the pronunciation problems. Mireille certainly looks pretty, and sounds pretty when said the way the French do: mee-ray. It’s also worth warning that the French pronounce Camille differently to the English – the ls are silent, plus the name is also considered very much unisex over there. Same goes for Sacha, and Jocelyn is strictly male. As for Quentin, he’s said something like CAWN-ten. The other classic example is Guillaume – the French form of William – which they pronounce as gee-om.

The sole female name I find myself strongly advising against you want to use a legitimately French name, but live in the States, or worse yet England? Fanny. It’s actually quite reasonably well-used in France to this day, and certainly used to enjoy a reasonable amount of popularity back in ye olde days, but given what it’s become slang for in the English-speaking world – especially England – it’s a name that will likely never take off as fellow Frances-derivative named Frankie is. If you want to use Frances, but don’t want you’re daughter to become Frankie, might I suggest Annie or Effie as alternatives.

I also mentioned in the last post how the French use Bastien as a short form of Sebastian – but like Fanny could lead to associations to less-than-wonderful words. It’s a slight shame really, and Bastien could work if you wanted it to. Bastien has popular use in his own right in France. Two other male names which takes on a whole new meaning in France are Come and Loan.

Capucine is a female name in France, and it distinctly similar to our word capuccino. Is it slightly too French? I hesistated when it came to including this name in this post, but feel it’s worth highlighting the name either way.

Whilst not strictly a French name, they do love the name Thais – said tah-eese – which strictly speaking comes from Ancient Greek. It’s popular following it’s use by French composer Jules Massenet. French film Les Enfants du Paradis has been attributed to the popularity of the female name Garance.

In France, Etienne is clearly masculine as he’s their form of Stephen, but I’ve had plenty friends mistake him as a female name. You can understand why, given that many French female names end -enne, think: Adrienne;Vivienne et al. Elouan also falls slightly foul of this, as does Rayane. In France, Valentin is more popular for lads than Valentine is for females, although both are relatively well-used in their own rights. My sister’s favourite name in this category which we shall end with is Sofiane, which is a popular name for males, not females.

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Categories: French Names | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Not too French

Christophe Maé, from christophe-mae.fr

We kicked the week off looking at a very modern sounding French sibset, so it seems fitting to return to the topic of French names to end the week. Not French words, just French names. Specifically French names that are not too French, like Thibault is. I love the name Thibault, but chances are that you haven’t a clue how to say him, and neither will the majority of the English-speaking population. He’s likely too French for those who don’t have a grasp of the language. If you’re still musing about how to say Thibault, it’s tee-bo.

At the other end of the spectrum is the second most popular girls name in England&Wales: Sophie – the French form of Sophia. And I recently met a Manon/Matisse sibset at a very British cricket club. Other French forms of popular English names include:

Alexandre

Ambre

Bastien (short form of Sébastien)

Christophe

Émilie

Guillaume

Mathieu

Mathilde

But it’s the middle ground of popularity we’re looking at. Something distinctly French. Like Clement. Meilleur Prénoms put him at #19 in 2009 for France. You may have heard Clementine mentioned more and more often, but it’s the masculine name which has really taken off in France of late. On the same list, Clemence ranked at #34 for girls.

Another male name example is Jules. The only Jules I know who aren’t Julians are French. French singer Christophe Maé and his partner Nadège welcomed a son named Jules in 2008. We seem to spell it differently here in Britain as British chef Jamie Oliver is married to a Juliette ‘Jools’ and we also have the widely popular Jools Holland here in Britain, who was born Julian Miles. Jools Miles sounds quintessentially jazz, doesn’t it?

The name Enzo is hugely popular in France, too. I’ve seen people call him the male equivalent of called your child Porsche. The name reportedly became popular in France following Zinedine Zidane using it for his son. Yes, the Zinedine Zidane who famously headbutted an Italian player in the 2006 World Cup final. Enzo is a somewhat controversial name in France, given that it’s Italian, not French. Moreover, the Italian short form of Vincenzo and Lorenzo. Enzo is a zippy little name, especially good if you think Ezra is going to the girls – a name Abby recently featured as a re-run.

Another zippy short name popular in Frenchy-land is Axel. To English ears, this may sound like a somewhat rugged name – and that may add to his charm for you. My other favourite French male name beginning with an A is Aurelian, and we can’t forget to mention Rémi. Yes, he has an accent but I’ve seen plenty parents forgoe this. Infact whilst on the subject of accents, I have a friend named Chloé because her Dad became mixed up when he went to register her – she should be a Chloë.

One of the more popular female names in France right now is Clara – currently at #201 in England&Wales, and not strictly a French name per se. A very French invention cooking up a storm in France is Lilou. Yes, I love Lilou, she’s like a Lily/Lucy smoosh that just seems to work. In a similar vein, the French also love Luna, or their slight variant spelling of Louna. They also recognise the rocking-awesomenous of Lou.

Romain and Romane are popular for boys and girls, respectively; Same goes for Leo and Leonie; Valentin and Valentine. Whilst we may consider Agatha still slightly aged for our babes, the French are embracing their version: Agathe. Another A name they love is Amandine: their version of the once popular name Amanda. There’s also Amine for the lads which has origins in Arabic, and means truthful. For me, I think of the organic compounds known as Amines, but that’s by-the-by. The French and Dutch variation of Anna is also popular: Anouk.

Finally, there’s the Mae– group of names to consider: Maëlys;Maëlle;Maeva;Maeline; Maelie. They all sound distinctly French, but the pronunciation may not come naturally to you. For Maëlys, it’s mah-el-EES; for Maëlle, it’s mah-el.

Categories: French Names | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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