Why do people find French language charming?

Why do people find French language beautiful ?

Why do people find French language beautiful ? As a French teacher of many years, I have quite often heard the following comment: « French is a beautiful language that sounds harmonious and melodic ». No surprise that the language still benefits from some flattering comments despite the « French-bashing » widespread in the media at the moment.

Inspite of the language’s attractiveness, many French learners consider it a difficult language in terms of mastering the grammatical structures or number of irregularities hidden behind these rational rules. Nevertheless, its aesthetic power continues to be undeniable.  As one of my English students recently said to me, « French is one of the nicest European languages ». Checkout our homepage about private French lessons in Paris

The desire to learn French

In a world where learning a language answers to a pragmatic expectation or a necessity, most French learners want to master the language because they work in France, study in French, or are immersed in a French environment. I still meet some rare students who wish to learn French almost exclusively for the beauty of the language. Writing this, I realise how anachronistic, and maybe slightly chauvinistic, this sounds but let me try to explain further. For these unusual students, let’s call them « oiseaux rares » (rares birds) the language is closely embedded in the cult of the culture, the gastronomy of a certain quality of life and a fascination with a prestigious historical past when French was the language of diplomacy across centuries and benefited from a certain prestige. Times have since changed.

Why do people like the French language? The first answer remains unchanged, for its softness and sensuality. Yet, the well-renowned seductive power of the French language is not just a vague musicality, pleasant only to hear. It also obeys precise linguistic rules strictly fixed by the very austere Académie Française. The employment of euphony is one of them.

Euphony, a rule of harmony

Another reason why people find FRench language charming is the intonation. French language has an ardent dedication to “euphony” or the quality of sounding harmonious. There are rules to make sure that French always sounds like a song or an old fashioned drama. It is not just a coincidence. One rule, for example, is that of avoiding the use of words that end with a vowel sound before words that begin with one; either the vowel is silent or consonants are placed in between. In doing so the very sound of words flow almost seamlessly between each other.

French really is the language of romance

Google seems to also find French language charming. According to a recent Google Translate Survey, French is the language most often used to translate romantic expressions. Yes, it’s true, French really is the language of love. Of the top 1,000 phrases most frequently translated into English, German, Spanish, Italian, and Russian, 34 of the top 1,000 phrases translated into French were somehow related to love and romance. “Je t’aime” (I love you) is the most requested translation in French, while “tu me manques” (I miss you) also ranked quite highly.

The language, more emotional than rational

The French language creates emotions and desires. The prononciation of just a few words are enough to nourish the fantasies of an interlocutor, making multiple references to: personal culture,  representation of the country, accumulation of folk and imaginary historical references. It means that the language has a lot to do with our imagination. Alain Rey, a French linguist in an interview with the magazine Campus evokes the symbolic dimension of language by saying that it "always conveys collective emotional content". We can be sensitive to the linguistic complexities, but the emotional dimension of language, albeit highly subjective, is primarily related to personal and collective unconscious representations. Without being aware of it, you might like French as a way to appropriate a mixture of French cuisine, heros of Balzac, Victor Hugo, Haute couture, stylish Parisian women… a vision of the country passed on across centuries by literature, fantasies and collective propositions. I find it sometimes surprising that so many outdated cliches continue to refer to France and French people today, despite the fact that such assertions no longer relate to the modern country it is.

Sensuality of the language is in the mind of the beholder

Dr. Nigel Armstrong, a lecturer in French and Sociolinguistics at the University of Leeds in England, explained that the reason we find French sexy has little to do with the language itself. According to Nigel Amstrong, “any accent is just a series of sounds”. The explanation as to why people find French attractive and charming would be more cultural and sociological. People have a stereotypical view of the country made with preconceived ideas or clichés about the French. If the French accent is considered as charming, appealing and sensual as many consider it, it’s because people associate the language with their own perceptions of the accent’s sexiness.