Friday, April 04, 2008

Saran Wrap

A trip to the supermarket in Paris is always a lesson in linguistics. It's then that I realize how many words aren't necessarily to be found in the standard French-English dictionary.

Classic Film.... what we would call "Saran Wrap." Gee, I would call "Gone With the Wind" a classic film.

(One of my favorite brand-name untranslatables a while back was a French powdered milk called "Quick Lait.")

But I started thinking about all the brand-name household items that have a very different name in France. The proper word apparently is "Genericized Trademarks". Here, compiled from Wikipedia and a few from my own collections, are such words and their French counterparts where I could find them, or think of them off the top of my head. Suggestions, definitions, and corrections welcome.

Bandaid - un sparadrap
Bubble-wrap - papier bulles ( but this also means manilla folder paper?)
Frisbee -
Hi-liter - un surligneur
Jell-O - gelee
Kleenex - mouchoir en papier
Muzak - musique de fond
Post-it Note
Q-Tips - coton tige
Rollerblades - rollers
Rolodex -
Scotch tape - le scotch
Saran Wrap - film alimentaire, film plastique
Sheetrock -
Styrofoam - polystyrene
Tampax - tampon hygienique
Thermos -thermos
Twist-tie -
Velcro -Velcro
Wite-out - Tipp-Ex
Xerox - photocopier
Ziploc bag -

13 comments: said...

How interesting about Classic Film!
The only genericized trademark I could add to your great list is specific to the southern U.S.
Coke - to represent any brown fizzy sugary drink.

Isabelle said...

For frisbee we say "un frisbee", for post-it note, we say "un post-it", for ziploc bag we say "un sac congélation".
I don't know what Rolodex and Sheetrock are !

Isabelle said...

Is manilla folder paper used to wrap your packages? In this case we call it "papier kraft"

Arthur Goldhammer said...

Diet Coke - Coca Lite
safety glass?
RCA plug?
Gunk? (a hand degreaser used by mechanics)
Phillips-head screw?
Allen wrench?

Not trademarks but "genericized" gadget names:

Banana plug? (illegal in Europe for hooking up speakers, according to the manual for my Onkyo receiver)
Alligator clip?
Network-attached storage?
socket wrench

And then there are the English words that aren't quite as they should be:

le listing (as in "le listing de Clearstream")
le building de grand standing
le slip
le string
les people
la top model

Nino said...

Hi Polly! I love your blog!

Is there a word for tupperware?

Victoria said...

according to fab, sheetrock is placo-platre

bandaid is panseument

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Thanks -- and I wonder if papier kraft is a genericized trademark from English.

Art -- you win the prize! Wow, so many that I had to lug my 8-lb "Dictionnaire Visuel" out and find some answers. Philips Head is tournevis cruciforme, vice grip (if I've got the thingy IDed properly) is levier de serrage. Couldn't find an Allen wrench anywhere; perhaps someone with an IKEA delivery can help us out with that.

Or else I'll have to take at trip to BHV and get the answers. Spackle! Why didn't I think of that?

I didn't include a lot of items that aren't really found in France, like Kool Aid -- but I think we have the beginnings of a good glossary going here.

The French government has a new website for eliminating the annoying anglicisms in everyday use. All of those -ings, which can be confusing to this American because they often take on new meaning in French.

Nino-- Hi, and I think Tupperware is just Tupperware; I don't know if the brand is here.

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Thanks, Victoria!

I just thought of few more:
Ace bandage, Brillo pad, Teflon, Contact paper, exacto-knife.

Elmer's glue might be a contender, too.

All I have to do is think of all the items I don't know how to ask for in the store!

Polly-Vous Francais said...

and Speedo

Caffienated Cowgirl said...

I always find things like this interesting. I am still chuckling over classic film...

Iota said...

Do the French have imported Sharpies? If not, I wonder what they call the equivalent.

CortalUX said...

This seems random - but the majority of these seem to be pretty similar to the UK English.
I.e. gelee, coton tige, rollers, plastic film, classic film, polystyrene, tampon, tip-ex, photocopier

Cathi said...

Scotch tape

I am looking for the name of a "classic film" the plastic wrap that is sold at Super U and other supermarkets in France; also comes in a green and white box ... help please it's driving me crazy not being able to find the word!

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