Blog: France 2012

France is going to the polls today to determine who will walk into the Elysee Palace as its new President – the incumbent, centre-right President Nicolas Sarkozy or the centre-left Socialist candidate Francois Hollande.

The results will have important implications outside of France too – what will the election tell us about France’s relationship with Germany, critical to the recovery of the Euro? What will be the ramifications for an already vilified immigrant community in France and beyond? And will bankers really feel the wrath of French Socialist ideals?

But perhaps the most pressing question for the British audience is this.  Will British newscasters and reporters continue to sound as ridiculous when pronouncing the candidates’ names over the next 5 years?

In the run up to this election (first round included) I have heard a wonderful array of pronunciations for these two candidates, not least because of the incessant adoption of their best possible French accents when doing so.  It’s ‘Allo ‘Allo gone wrong.

I’ve taken the liberty of transliterating some of the pronunciations:

For Nicolas Sarkozy

Nicolas Sarkozy

Nicholas Sarkozy

Nicola Sarkozy

Nicola Sarrhhhhhhhh Cozy

Knee Col-Ass Sar-Cou-Zee

Ni. Co.  La.  Sa. Ko. Zee.

But none of these compare quite as hilariously to the pronunciations of Francois Hollande:

Fran SuarZ Holland

Frghan Sua Oll Ond

Frghan Sua Oll Ond Eugh

The centre-left French Presidential candidate FRWAN SWARR OLLLLLLL OND

Of course, it’s not uncommon for people to try and pronounce foreign words as foreignly as possible.  Listen to people talk about Les Miserables or Paeeeyyyyaaaa (as opposed to Paella) and you’ll understand what I mean.  The associated actions and total change in voice (most reporters are adopting a deeper voice to sound as French as possible when talking about the candidates) are a great source of comedy for me.  It’s as though, for that split moment, Andrew Marr is the most French of French people.

So more than anything, I want Francois Hollande to be elected just so I can listen to myriad ways his name will be pronounced.  And, if he does indeed build closer cultural ties with Britain, I look forward to pronouncing words in French for no apparent reason whatsoever.

C’est bon!