ONLINE: 'Tommy French: How Tommies turned French into slang' by Julian Walker
14 Dec

Caption: British and French soldiers playing cards at a family-run Estaminet (Courtesy IWM Q 53337)

About this talk: This examines how the Tommy, far from home on the Western Front, communicated with his new neighbours and how they coped with being in a land where they either knew no French, or found the little French they did know useless. This talk examines how Tommy conversed with the locals, especially young women, and dealt with the everyday necessities of recreational time, how to buy snacks, glasses of wine and beer. It looks at the strategies used, using translators or learning more French, and how this produced stand-out phrases: napoo, sanfairyann, compree, finee, toot sweet, apray le gar. We look too at anglicised place-names, and what they tell us about how soldiers picked up language. The talk also explores how Tommy French found its way into popular entertainment, in the music halls of the Home Front and how the French themselves adopted elements of Tommy French.

About this speaker: Julian Walker is the main co-ordinator of the Languages and the First World War international research project, which has produced two international conferences, three volumes of essays, and a widely used blog. He has given talks to the Foreign Office, the Royal British Legion, schools, family history groups, conferences and museums. He is the co-author, with Peter Doyle, of Trench Talk, and author of Words and the First World War, a survey of the English language during the conflict, and has recently published a book on the relationship between French and English in the war. He has written on language and the war for several publications, including the Europeana website and the 1914-1918 online encyclopedia.

This online talk: opens at 19:20 for a 19:30 start, ending at about 20:30. Participating is quick and easy. The only equipment you need is a computer, or a tablet, or a smart phone. Simply email for your link and the passcode. We'll also automatically add you to the mailing list to keep you updated with future events.


14 Dec 2021 19:30