Unlocking French language: text a’grieve’iations


LOL is the furthest I will go when writing with text abbreviations.

Nothing more, nothing less.

When writing texts in English, I write in full, and I write with proper syntactic features. I don’t want to be seen as an over-texting teenager! I want my friends to receive properly articulated sentences with substance.

Nevertheless, this is not the case when I text to friends in French.

The discernment to my differentiation is not easily explained; however, I can allege that I feel I take on a different persona when I speak French, so that my alter-ego appears to shine when I text. The use of text abbreviations, I am sure, is also highly influenced by my French connections. If they trim their text, I trim my text. I have always been a keen master of language mimicry.

Katerina Forrester 18.05.2013 (3)

I’ll be honest with you: the amount of times I have received a text or email and not understood an abbreviation is countless. I have then either proceeded to sneakily research the abbreviation, or simply responded, ‘Que veut dire…’. So I will therefore share with you my discoveries.

Acronyms à la française

Most French text abbreviations are made as acronyms or initialisims, just like in English:

MDR                     Mort(e) de rire                ‘Dying of laughter’ – used just like the
English LOL

QDN                     Quoi de neuf? ‘What’s new?’

CPG                     C’est pas grave               ‘It doesn’t matter’/’Not a problem’

RAF                     Rien à faire                      ‘Nothing to do’

AP/A+                   A plus                             ‘See you later’

TLM                     Tout le monde                 ‘Everyone’

RDV                     Rendez-vous                  ‘Catch-up’

1 de ces 4             Un de ces quatre          ‘One of these days’

(Combine the two above to get ‘Catch ya soon!’)

DSL                       Désolé                         ‘Sorry’

TJS/tjs                   Toujours                     ‘Always’/’Still’

C                           C’est                           ‘It’s’

Biz                        Bises                           ‘Kisses’

Auj                       Aujourd’hui                  ‘Today’

STP/SVP              S’il te/vous plaît           ‘Please’

Katerina Forrester 18.05.2013 (2)

It’s OK! in French

The French use of the consonant ‘k’ is also popular when replacing ‘qu’:

Ke                        Que

Kel                       Quel

Keske                  Qu’est-ce que

Ki                         Qui

Kil                        Qu’il

Koi                       Quoi

Parske/PK          Parce que

All time French favourites

Merki – a lot of my French girlfriends will say merci this way to sound cute and baby like. It can also be written in this form in texts, as it reads with the ‘qu’ sound.

J’kiff – it comes from the Arabic word for ‘pleasure’, so it is used in the same way as aimer, ‘to like/love’. It is just a slang word which has become popular amongst young people, so it is used in both text and speech. Par exemple, ‘J’kiff Ma Vie Française!’. 

I would be fascinated to know if you find the same disparity with your own use of text abbreviations in English versus French. Are there certain limits? Which texting words do you often use?

Image Credits:
1. Texting in traffic, via Wikimedia Commons.
2. Abbreviation cartoon
3. Text message
4. Mobile People

About the Contributor

Katerina Forrester

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  1. Alex Mealey Jun 25, 2013 at 6:41 PM - Reply

    Wow! Thanks for the texting tips Katerinia! I have never texted a native French speaker before, but if I do, I know where to go to help me translate the text abbreviations 🙂

    • Katerina Forrester Jun 28, 2013 at 12:38 PM - Reply

      Thanks Alex! You should definitely try it with other non-native French speakers anyway! A way to feel incredibly branché!

  2. Briony Kemp Griffin Jul 5, 2013 at 7:12 PM - Reply

    This is great! There are so many I didn’t know. When I text my French friends, they always use MDR at the end or at the beginning of a sentence to not make them sound so serious – I love it! I replace MDR with a smiley face 🙂

  3. Gerard Lewis-Fitzgerald Jul 7, 2013 at 11:08 AM - Reply

    Chais po (oh, je m’excuse …) Je ne sais pas pourquoi on dirait ‘merki’ pour remplacer ‘merci’ – pour moi, un ‘ka’ ne pourrait être autre qu’une consonne dure. Donc, ce n’est pas tellement ‘mignon; ça résonne plutôt débile. De peur de faire le pédant qui prends trop littéralement les choses , je vais quand même suggérer que, pour ce qui est de parler comme un enfant, j’imagine que les tout petits auraient tendance à zézayer: “mair-thiii” (ou bien “mair-ziii”), lorsqu’ils apprennent à parler. ‘Keske’, il y a du sens mais ‘merki’?! Pour vous montrer que je ne suis pas totalement encroûté, ma femme (qui ne parle pas français) et moi avons dit de temps en temps, pour blaguer: ‘murky buckups’ – corruption délibérée de notre part, bien sûr.
    Je kiffe ‘j’kiffe’ comme expression – je crois que l’équivalent serait en anglais: ‘I dig’?

  4. M-Noëlle ROLAND Jul 23, 2013 at 6:27 PM - Reply

    Bonjour !!!

    May I “tip-toe” in to add one thing about the word “Merki” ?
    It’s not a baby or child-like word. It comes from a sketch by Elie Semoun (comic actor) in which his character is a washroom attendant in a public toilet. She says “merki” to people leaving a tip when leaving.
    The word appeared with the sketch, about 7 years+ ago and it has become part of our language since.
    Hope it helps !!!

    Bonne journée !!!

    • Katerina Forrester Jul 25, 2013 at 5:08 PM - Reply

      Oh! Merci bien pour le lien M-Noelle Roland! Meme mes amis francais ne savaient pas!

  5. Rosemary Kneipp Sep 5, 2013 at 4:49 PM - Reply

    Interesting post. It’s true that the French use a lot of abbreviations and not only in text messages. It’s the bane of a translator’s life! When you ask what one means, it seems so obvious. You should see their lecture notes. My 24-year old stepson sends text messages like the ones you quote and his (French) father and I often have to get together to understand them. One of the results, though, is that his emails are full of spelling mistakes because he’s lost the habit of making agreements (plurals, verbs, etc.). It’s a pity because he’s studying to be a doctor and it’s not going to help his future …

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