In English, Frenglish means a mangled combination of English and French, produced either by poor knowledge of one or the other language or for humorous effect. Frenglish usually consists of filling in gaps in one's knowledge of French with English words or false cognates with their incorrect meaning, or speaking French in such a manner which, though ostensibly "French", would be incomprehensible to a French-speaker who does not also have a knowledge of English, for example word for word translations of English idiomatic phrases.
Frenglish may also mean a diplomatic compromise such as the abbreviation UTC for Co-ordinated Universal Time.
Chaucer's Prioress knew nothing of the French of Paris, but only that of Stratford-atte-Bow ('Cockney French'). Similar mixtures occur in the later stages of Law French, such as the famous defendant who "ject un brickbat a le dit Justice, que narrowly mist". An early modern literary example of the delight in mélange occurs in Robert Surtees' Jorrocks' Jaunts and Jollities:
PARIS, le 7 Juillet. Monsieur le Landlord--Sir: Pourquoi don't you mettez some savon in your bed-chambers? Est-ce que vous pensez I will steal it? La nuit passee you charged me pour deux chandelles when I only had one; hier vous avez charged me avec glace when I had none at all; tout les jours you are coming some fresh game or other on me, mais vous ne pouvez pas play this savon dodge on me twice. Savon is a necessary de la vie to any body but a Frenchman, et je l'aurai hors de cet hotel or make trouble. You hear me. Allons. BLUCHER.
The humorist Miles Kington wrote a regular column Parlez vous Franglais which, for a number of years starting in the late 1970s, appeared in the magazine Punch. These columns were collected into a series of books: Let's Parler Franglais, Let's Parler Franglais Again!, Parlez-vous Franglais?, Let's Parler Franglais One More Temps, The Franglais Lieutenant's Woman and Other Literary Masterpieces.
Another classic is Jean Loup Chiflet's Sky My Husband! Ciel Mon Mari! which is a literal translation of French into English. However, the correct translation of Ciel is Heavens! in this context.
Perhaps the oldest example of Frenglish in English literature is found in Henry V by William Shakespeare. A French princess is trying to learn English, but unfortunately, "foot" as pronounced by her maid sounds too much like foutre (French, "to have sexual intercourse") and "gown" like con (French "cunt", also used to mean "idiot"). She decides English is too obscene a language.
Owing to the worldwide popularity of the internet, relatively new English words have been introduced into French, e.g. e-mail and mail (an e-mail or an e-mail address). The French and Quebec governments have proposed the use of an alternative derived from French roots: courriel (courrier électronique), which is indeed widely used. (The Académie française has suggested the use of the abbreviation mél. as an analogy with tél. for telephone) Another example from Canadian French is look. The verb "to look" in French is regarder, but the noun "a look" (i.e. the way that something looks), is look. So the sentence, "This Pepsi can has a new look", in French would be Cette cannette de Pepsi a un nouveau look. This is obviously a borrowed word as native French words, like most modern Romance languages, do not have the letter k (or w).
In recent years English expressions are increasingly present in French mass media:
Almost all telecommunication and Internet service providers generally use English and Franglais expressions in their product names and advertising campaigns. The leading operator France Télécom has dropped the accents in its corporate logo. In recent years it has changed its product names with smart sounding expressions such as "Business Talk", "Live-Zoom", "Family Talk". France Telecom's mobile telecommunications subsidiary Orange runs a franchise retail network called mobistores. Its Internet subsidiary, formerly known as Wanadoo (inspired by the American slang expression "wanna do"), provides a popular triple play service through its Livebox. The second largest Internet service provider in France is Free and proposes its freebox. Set-top boxes offered by many providers followed the trend (neuf-box, alice-box...) and the word box taken as is gradually ends up referring to those set-top boxes, in the Internet context.
SNCF, the state-owned railway company, has recently introduced a customer fidelity program called S'Miles, at the same time Air France renamed its frequent flyer program Fréquence Plus as Flying Blue. The Paris Transportation Authority (RATP), recently introduced a handfree pass system called NaviGO.
The Académie Française (French Academy) and public authorities such as the Conseil supérieur de la langue française (Superior Council of the French language) generally propose alternative words for Anglicisms. The acceptance of these proposals varies a lot : "ordinateur" and "logiciel" existed before the English words "computer" and "software" reached France, so they obviously are accepted (even outside of French in the case of "ordinateur"). On the other hand, "vacancelle" failed to replace "weekend", as did "fin de semaine", which did catch on in Canada. The word "courriel", a translation of "e-mail" initially proposed by the Office québécois de la langue française, is slowly coming into use in written French. However, most of French Internet users generally speak about "mail" without the prefix "e-". Note that English words are often much faster to say, and they are usually coined first (with the French alternatives being thought of only after the original word has been coined, and are debated at length), which is partly why they tend to stay.
Alternative words proposed by the Académie Française are sometimes poorly received by an aware (often technical) audience and unclear to a non-technical audience. The proposed terms may be ambiguous, often because they are artificially created based on phonetics, thus hiding their etymology, which results in "nonsense", e.g. cédéroms réinscriptibles for CD-RW (literally "rewritable CD-ROMs", despite that "ROM" means read-only memory). Some words sound weird, often because of a convoluted source, e.g. spam became pourriel, which comes from pourri (rotten) and courriel, itself a portmanteau). Others are uncool, e.g. adding the initial T to "chat" to form tchat, in accord with French phonetics. DVD is rendered dévédé, reproducing the French pronunciation of the letters D, V & D.
They have mainly become part of a common tongue born out of mutual concession to one another. In fact, the substantial fluently bilingual community in and around Montreal will occasionally refer to "Franglais", usually after it is pointed out that someone has used a variety of French and English words, expressions, or propositions in a 'correct' fashion in the same sentence or point, a surprisingly common occurrence.
Recently, Canadian youth culture, especially in British Columbia and southern and eastern Ontario, purposely uses Franglais for its comical or euphemistic characteristics, for example in replacing English swearwords with French ones. Some Anglophone Canadians euphemistically use the Québecois sacres (religious words such as sacrament, used as expletives) instead of swearing in English.
Another example is provided by the civil servants in European Union institutions (European Parliament, European Commission, European Court of Justice), based in French-speaking Brussels and Luxembourg City. They often work in English, but are surrounded by a French-speaking environment, which influences their English (e.g. "There's a soirée on the Grand Place"; "I'm a stagiaire at the Commission and I'm looking for another stage in a consultancy".)
Some well educated English-speaking people interlard their conversation with French words and expressions, some of which they misunderstand, e.g. using "to look at some one de haut en bas" to mean "to look them over from head to toe", whereas the French expression means "to look at them as from on high", as from a superior to an inferior, while "de bas en haut" would be the correct use.