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I watched the absorbingly surreal 2012 movie In the House (Dans la maison) last night. At about 13m 30s, what Jeanne Germain says to her teacher husband is transcribed in the English subtitles as...

"I need you to say the twins are fucking bitches!"

I can't quite catch the exact words in French, but unquestionably she does actually say "fucking".

The couple are clearly very "middle-class", and the wife at least is very "avant garde" (she runs an art gallery owned by "the twins", featuring various (sexually) disturbing exhibits).

I'd like to know if this usage is now common in France. Or is it just a reflection of the educated/bohemian nature of the character?

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Difficile sans le dialogue original : "Je dois te dire que les jumeaux baisent des salopes". Mouviciel donne dans sa réponse les traductions usuelles. –  cl-r Feb 20 at 8:45
    
@cl-r "The twins are fucking bitches" could hardly be translated as "les jumeaux baisent des salopes". Agreed, literally, it translates as "les jumeaux baisent les chiennes" (the female dogs are being fucked by the twins), but the obvious intent is that they are bitches, and fucking bad ones. Thus "les jumeaux sont des salopes (de) premières" would probably be more accurate. –  smirkingman Feb 23 at 21:46
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I'm afraid my French isn't good enough to understand the point you're making, but Google Translate confirms my suspicion that "Je dois te dire que les jumeaux baisent des salopes" means "I must tell you that the twins fuck sluts/bitches". In the context of the movie it seems more likely Jeanne wants her husband to say (something like) this to her, not that she needs to say it to him. –  FumbleFingers Feb 23 at 22:12
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7 Answers 7

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I haven't seen the film, maybe someone who has will confirm what you heard but I wouldn't be surprised you heard correctly.

When I started working in a French secondary school in the seventies fuck was one of the common graffiti on tables, chairs and walls, etc. It was not so much used in speech. Sometimes it stood on its own, sometimes followed by someone's name. But I would not say it was "adopted" into the French language. Those who used it knew it was an English word. Even though the eleven year olds did not necessarily know what it meant as they arrived in the first year, they were quite conscious that they were transgressing language barriers when using it. It was used even by some who would not have dared say swear words in French, but in that matter barriers are crossed more easily in a foreign language. Of course by the end of the school year they all knew what it meant.

There's no reason to believe that particular school was an exception, it was quite an ordinary middle class school. By the time I retired, although the old graffiti had remained, "carved in stone" in the old furniture, it was not used as much, so it could be a generation thing.

Using the forms fucker or fucking would not be heard among teenagers, but I can very well imagine those kids from the 70s and 80s being able to decline the word in conversation as bobo adults, after seven years of learning English and watching English series and US programs.

It will be interesting to see what Québécois stackexchangers have to say about English swearwords in Québécois French.

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I'll wait a while before accepting, but I'm starting to get the impression the short answer to my question is "No, this isn't going to be another "weekend" or "parking". –  FumbleFingers Feb 19 at 21:45
    
@FumbleFingers "Fin de semaine" or "stationnement" you mean? ;) –  oerkelens Feb 20 at 8:20
    
@oerkelens: Il me semble que "parking" n'est pas seulement "stationnement". C'est aussi et peut-etre surtout l'endroit ou on se gar: un parking lot (US) ou un car park (Br). –  Drew Feb 23 at 18:06
    
@Drew: Au Québec, le stationnement est le parking, i.e. le "parking lot". :) –  oerkelens Feb 23 at 21:04
    
@oerkelens: OK, merci. En France c'est toujours "le parking" AFAIK/AQJS. (Ca me rappelle du panneau "stop"/"arret".) –  Drew Feb 23 at 21:45
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I did not answer because the question was specifically asking about France, but I'll complement Laure's answer (I'm Québécois).

From my observation, when we use that word is more in its fuck form than its fucking form. We tend to have a lot of swear words to chose from (in french, mostly church/religion related words, and others often borrowed from France), and generally when we chose fuck, it is generally because we really mean it, it tends to be a strong word. The verb form is a bit less strong IMHO and much less used, as we have the ability to 'conjugate' our swears, or transform them into adverbs and nouns.

I'm telling this as an adult. Now, how do teenagers use this? As Laure mentioned in her answer, TV/movies are 'good' teachers for this kind of stuff so there's no way to not be exposed, but as kids grow, they learn to swear (well, those that keep on going to school, as we have an expression Sacrer comme un gars de chantier which implies that some jobs were there is not a lot of education is required tend to have a "dirtier" vocabulary).

I must admit that the use of fuck is sometime viewed as a 'casual' swear. Which means that a teenager using this word while waiting in line at the convenient store will not get big frowns from other in Québec, as opposed to what he'll get saying the same thing in Ontario.

I can't remember the movie, but in that movie, something bad happened (it does not matter what), and the woman said fuck in the original English version. In the french translation, the word was translated by fuck.

So, yes, we use fuck and fucking, no matter the education/age, but it is not generally our favourite way to swear.


Edit:

I forgot to mention: We tend to use the word shit once in a while. And also crap. Both of these are weaker than what you're asking, however. And we also tend to use them less than french swear words.

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Just to point out - it was "accidental" that I happened to ask "Is this common in France?" in the question text. The last thing I wrote was the question title (the system forced me to do that in order to post, because I hadn't put anything in there). By then I was consciously aware that I wanted the French Canadian perspective too (and other Francophones, if they're available here). I just didn't think to double-check what I'd written earlier. Since you have answered (and called attention to my gaffe) I'll leave the text "as is", but it's not what I really meant. –  FumbleFingers Feb 19 at 22:35
    
Also note that Dans La Maison is only a French movie. There is no English version, "original" or otherwise - there's not even (currently) an alternative soundtrack in English. Finally, I'm not sure it's really true to say "something bad happens" - Jeanne Germain does leave her husband, but that's hardly presented as a major tragedy. There's a suicide by hanging half-way through, but that's just a surreal "dream sequence" - the "dead" kid is back on his feet a few minutes later, and sticks around for the rest of the movie. –  FumbleFingers Feb 19 at 22:45
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Things may have changed since I was in high school approximately ten years ago, but I clearly remember "fucking" being tossed left and right as adverb, mostly replacing "vraiment", e.g. "c'était fucking malade" or "c'est fucking loin". Truthfully, I doubt this has changed. –  Kareen Feb 19 at 23:17
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@FumbleFingers Sorry I haven't been clear, I haven't seen the film you're talking about, so I'm talking about another film in my answer. –  Alexandre Vaillancourt Feb 19 at 23:54
    
@Kareen Indeed, I was like that too. I was trying to illustrate in my answer that as I grew up, I kind of stop throwing these fucking as adverbs the way you describe. Your way of showing it is a bit clearer than mine. –  Alexandre Vaillancourt Feb 19 at 23:56
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From time to time, I hear fuck as a synonym of va te faire foutre, which is mostly a literal translation.

As far as I know, the usage of fuck in english is closer to the french usage of putain (this is the choosen translation in the Four Weddings and a Funeral movie).

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We usually use a lot of traduction of "fucking" and "fuck", but using these two words in english language is not common, even among the teenagers.

You can't have a very relevant answer as it depends of people around us and our social class. (just to situate my answer, I'm a 24yo man of middle class hanging out with 16yo to 28yo people)

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When I was in a host family in Nantes, I was surprised when I learned the word for baby seal from my host mother (bébé phoque). She didn't appear to register the phonetic similarity to the swear word when teaching me the word, though I definitely asked for clarification.

My host brother mentioned that French soldiers didn't always make a good impression on American troops in WWII when saying "I'd better be going" (Il faut que j'y aille), since it sounded similar to "F**k GI (General Infantry)". Youths and young adults were usually aware of the "F Bomb" and its use when I was there around 2000, but it wasn't the "first tool in the swearing toolbox" for them.

However, the word "phoque" isn't very often in conversation, and there aren't that many Allied General Infantry troops in France any more, so the meaning of the word is typically very clear by the context of the statement. It's not a very hard word to learn.

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\fɔk\ are \fək\ are much more distinct to French ears than to English ones so most French people do not hear a phonetic similarity. –  jlliagre Feb 19 at 22:34
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@jlliagre Not sure about your part of the world, but here kids could say \fɔk\, and when their parents tell them to stop saying that bad word they reply "Ben je parlais de l'animal, là!". So there is a phonetic similarity. –  Alexandre Vaillancourt Feb 20 at 0:25
    
I agree with Alexandre, the words are pretty much cross-language homophones. Although /ʌ/ and /ɔ/ are (at least in theory) phonemically distinct in English (or at least general american, which I'm most familiar with), I'm not sure a minimal pair exists. Possibly the main difference will usually be length, not rounding. –  Circeus Feb 20 at 5:22
    
@Circeus cut and caught are a minimal pair in American English (for those who don't have the cot/caught merger -- cut and caught are distinct for the folks who have the merger as well, but caught has /a/ rather than /ɔ/ for them). In fact there is a length distinction but there is a significant vowel quality distinction as well; to me they don't sound close at all (I mean this only subjectively, they may well be quite close phonetically, but psychologically to English speakers I think they are more different than, say, /ʌ/ and the vowel in putt). –  hunter Feb 20 at 9:38
    
(ctd.) I think part of the phenomenon is instead that the French articulation of and /ɔ/ and the American articulation of /ɔ/ are quite different, the American version being much less rounded. Complicating things more, at least in my native dialect, /ɔ/ is pronounced more like /au/ except before /r/ where it is /ɔ/ (in fact broad and brawled are even homophones as /l/ is vocalized). –  hunter Feb 20 at 9:42
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Well, as someone from Québec, Canada, I can say that we use some of English swear words like "fuck" or "fucking", but these are mostly light swears. They really do not have the same connotation as in English. "shit" and "crap" are also used, but they do not really have a bad meaning. It's really casual.

When we are really frustrated, we tend to use swears that are religion related words. They come from legacy vocabulary since religion is not as strong as it was before. I will not make a list of these here, but Quebec persons are well known for them! You can probably find a list easily somewhere else if you are interested!

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Yes sacres quebecois even have an entry in wikipedia. Thanks for giving this québécois point of view. –  Laure Feb 20 at 8:26
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I'm French. I haven't seen the movie but I would translate: "the twins are fucking bitches!" by: "les jumelles sont des putains de salopes" using "putain" not as its original meaning of "whore" but as a translation of "fucking" such as, for instance "ce putain de con" that could be translated into English as" this fucking asshole"

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My French is a bit rusty (it was over 40 years ago when I lived in France for a year), but my ear definitely caught putain several times in the movie. And it's gratifying to see from various answers & comments here that the usage is still common. So if I go back to France and use it myself one day, I might have a terrible accent and I might sound a bit foul-mouthed, but at least I won't necessarily sound "dated, out-of-touch". –  FumbleFingers Feb 24 at 22:18
    
I've left France 15 years ago so I'm not anymore fully up to date although I spend my summers in the Alps... –  Cyber Feb 25 at 18:38
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