Are you way more into snail mail than email?
Or are you a techie till the end, your heart racing and your palms sweaty when you find yourself without a solid Wi-Fi connection?
Regardless of which camp you’re in, technology is here to stay.
But hey, in many cases it makes life—French-learning life included—simpler.
So can you talk about all of this technology en français?
Whether you love it or hate it, now is the time to update your French vocabulary for life in the 21st century. We live in the ère numérique (digital age), so to express opinions about new technology, you’re definitely going to need some tech-related vocab.
Why Learn Technology-related French Vocabulary?
Even the l’Académie française (The French Academy, a national institution which is the authority on things related to the French language) has been forced to accept the fact that haute technologie (high technology) isn’t going away anytime soon.
In response to an onslaught of neologisms and anglicisms, l’Académie française has adapted, allowing for the French language to keep up with the times. By learning technology vocabulary, you’ll not only come across a fair amount of English loan words, you’ll also come across quintessentially French ones as well.
The building blocks of the French language are grammar and vocabulary. This means that even if your grammar game is on point, you’ll need a broad vocabulary to be able to communicate effectively about a wide range of subjects. Once you’ve got the basics down, you should move on to more domain-specific vocabulary.
The tech domain, like the business world, is a subculture with its own lingo. No need to be intimidated, though! Learn the lingo and you’ll find that your reading and listening comprehension will also improve. Besides that, you’ll wow native speakers as you wax poetic on Wi-Fi.
Get Geeky: French Resources for Technology Lovers
Reading blogs and listening to podcasts is a great way to see and hear French technology vocabulary in action. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Begeek. Begeek is the one-stop shop for you gadget lovers out there. Begeek contains a variety of articles pertaining to the tech world, product reviews and promotional codes.
- FluentU. This platform has a full library of clips that show French in different contexts, such as social gatherings, the workplace, and tech settings.
- Presse-Citron. Think of Presse-Citron, founded by Eric Dupin, as an online lifestyle magazine for the startup-launching set. On this site you’ll find posts on subjects ranging from e-books and environmentalism to smartphones and startups.
- Soft Power: Le magazine des Internets. This one-hour France Culture podcast hosted by Frédéric Martel revolves around the creative industry, with a special emphasis on mass media and the Internet. Each week Martel interviews journalists and researchers who discuss the stakes of living in “The Information Age.”
- Ubergizmo. Ubergizmo is a frequently updated website containing no-nonsense reviews of “the electronics you love and the ones that you love to hate.”
50+ French Technology Vocab Words to Navigate Life in the 21st Century
Basic French Technology Vocabulary
Here are some French vocabulary words for computer hardware and some terms that harken back to Web 1.0.
Arobase (f, although the gender hasn’t quite been settled yet) — @.
This is the name for the commercial “at” symbol: @. Since the advent of the Internet, countries have come up with different names for this curious character. According to some, the French term arobase—approved by l’Académie française—is a derivative of a rond bas (a surrounded [letter] “a”). Neat, right? So instead of saying “at” when you’re telling someone your email address, you say arobase (at).
Mon adresse courriel est Frenchy arobase mail point com. [Frenchy@mail.com]
(My email is Frenchy at mail dot com.)
Base de données (f) — Database.
La base de données aide la société à trouver les meilleurs clients.
(The database helps the company find the best clients.)
Bureau (m) — [Computer] desktop.
In the non-tech world, bureau refers to either a desk or an office.
Il y a trop de fichiers sur mon bureau.
(There are too many files on my desktop.)
Clavier (m) — Keyboard.
Computers made in the United States have QWERTY keyboards (QWERTY being the first six letters on the top left letter row of the keyboard), but did you know computers made in France have AZERTY ones?
Les ordinateurs fabriqués en France ont des claviers AZERTY.
(Computers made in France have AZERTY keyboards.)
Clé USB (f) — USB stick.
USB stands for “Universal Serial Bus,” which in French translates to Bus universel en série. Because the Anglophone world seems to dictate tech-lingo, we say clé USB (USB stick) instead of the “more French” clé BUS.
J’ai toujours une clé USB sur moi.
(I always have a USB stick with me.)
Courriel (m) — Email.
The word courriel is an abbreviation of courrier éléctronique (literally: electronic mail). (Courrier refers to a piece of mail delivered by post.) The anglicism un e-mail (an email) is often used, but courriel is preferred by l’Académie française. In Quebec, the term courriel is more popular than it is in Europe.
Un mél (an email) is another term for email. Think of it as a Frenchified version of the anglicism. The Académie française accepts Mél. as an abbreviation for message éléctronique (electronic message), much like Tél. is used as an abbreviation for (numéro de) téléphone (telephone [number]).
J’ai envoyé un courriel à Charlotte.
(I sent an email to Charlotte.)
Curseur (m) — Cursor.
Je déplace le curseur avec la souris.
(I move the cursor with the mouse.)
Disque dur (m) — Hard drive.
If you want to be more specific you can refer to either un disque dur interne (internal hard drive) or un disque dur externe (external hard drive).
Mon disque dur externe a beaucoup de stockage.
(My external hard drive has a lot of space.)
Donnée (f) — [A point of] data.
You will most often see this in its plural form, données.
Les données sont sur le serveur.
(The data is on the server.)
Dossier (m) — Folder.
J’ai créé un dossier pour chaque matière sur mon ordinateur.
(I made a folder for each subject on my computer.)
Écran (m) — Screen.
L’écran est sale.
(The screen is dirty.)
Fichier (m) — File or document.
Toutes les informations sont dans ce fichier.
(All of the information is in this file.)
Internet (m) — The Internet. (You guessed it!)
The definite article le (the) is rarely used before the word Internet in French. It’s treated like a proper noun, hence its capitalization. La toile (the web) and le net (the ‘Net) are two other French terms for the Internet.
Elle passe beaucoup de temps sur Internet.
(She spends a lot of time on the Internet.)
Logiciel (m) — Computer program.
J’utilise trois logiciels au quotidien.
(I use three programs on a daily basis.)
Mémoire (f) — Memory.
Combien de mémoire a ton ordinateur ?
(How much memory does your computer have?)
Mot de passe (m) — Password.
J’ai oublié mon mot de passe.
(I forgot my password.)
Moteur de recherche (m) — Search engine.
Le moteur de recherche a remplacé l’encyclopédie.
(The search engine has replaced the encyclopedia.)
Ordinateur (m) — Computer.
In colloquial spoken French you’ll often hear the shortened ordi. Cute, right? The French for “laptop” is ordinateur portable, which translates literally to “carry-able computer.” You’re more likely to hear a person refer to their portable (laptop), which, incidentally, is also the word for cell phone. Context usually clues you in regarding the item in question.
L’ordinateur de Sarah a un grand écran.
(Sarah’s computer has a big screen.)
Site web (m) — Web site.
Easy peasy! It’s common for French speakers to refer to un site (a site), tout simplement (quite simply).
La société a un nouveau site web.
(The company has a new website.)
Souris (f) — Mouse.
Je navigue sur le site à l’aide de la souris.
(I explore the site with help of the mouse.)
Traitement de texte (m) — Word processing.
J’utilise un logiciel de traitement de texte pour prendre des notes.
(I use a word processing program to take notes.)
Enregistrer — To save.
In other contexts, enregistrer can also mean “to record.”
J’enregistre le fichier tout de suite.
(I am saving the file right away.)
Saisir — To enter or to input.
In other contexts, the verb saisir can also mean “to grasp,” both literally and figuratively, as in “to understand (a concept or idea).”
Je saisis les informations dans la base de données.
(I’m entering the information into the database.)
Sauvegarder — To backup.
Je sauvegarde mon travail toutes les deux heures.
(I backup my work every two hours.)
Supprimer — To delete.
J’ai supprimé quelques fichiers.
(I deleted some files.)
Web 2.0 and Beyond: French Vocabulary for the Digital Age
Although definitions may vary, the Web 2.0 generally is characterized by user-generated content and social media. Gone are the days where we passively consume information on websites. As modern-day internautes (Internet users—the noun can be either masculine or feminine depending on who it refers to), we actively engage with it, going so far as to create it.
Like I said earlier, with new technology comes new vocabulary. You’ll notice that many terms are loan words borrowed from the English. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Abonné(e) (m or f) — Subscriber.
Le bulletin éléctronique a 2 000 abonnés.
(The newsletter has 2,000 subscribers.)
Application (f) — Application.
It’s not uncommon to hear appli (appl) for short.
L’application dictionnaire me facilite la vie.
(The dictionary application makes my life easier.)
Blog (or blogue) (m) — Blog.
Michel tient un blog de musique.
(Michel runs a music blog.)
Commentaire (m) — Comment.
J’ai laissé un commentaire sur le blog de Michel.
(I left a comment on Michel’s blog.)
Compte (m) — Account.
J’ai un compte Facebook.
(I have a Facebook account.)
Écran tactile (m) — Touch screen.
Mon téléphone portable a un écran tactile.
(My cell phone has a touch screen.)
Fil d’actualité (m) — Newsfeed.
Mon fil d’actualité contient des articles intéressants.
(My newsfeed contains interesting articles.)
Lecteur (m) — Reader.
Lectrice (reader) is the feminine form.
Le blog de Michel a beaucoup de lecteurs.
(Michel’s blog has a lot of readers.)
Like (m) — A (Facebook) like.
Alternatively (and more French-ly), you can say une mention j’aime (literally translates to an “I like” distinction).
La photo de Caroline a reçu beaucoup de likes.
(Caroline’s picture got a lot of likes.)
Mise à jour (f) — Update.
J’ai effectué une mise à jour de logiciel sur mon ordinateur.
(I did a program update on my computer.)
Mot-dièse (m) — Hashtag.
Dièse refers to what (American) English speakers know as the pound sign (#). It’s worth noting that un hashtag is much more commonly used than mot-dièse (hashtag).
Sur Twitter, les sujets de discussion sont classés grâce à des mots-dièse.
(On Twitter, discussion topics are organized by hashtags.)
Nom d’utilisateur (m) — Username.
J’ai choisi un nom d’utilisateur très simple.
(I chose a very simple username.)
Page d’accueil (f) — Home page.
La page d’accueil est très simple.
(The home page is very simple.)
Photo de profil (f) — Profile picture.
Marie change souvent sa photo de profil.
(Marie changes her profile picture often.)
Piratage (m) — (Illegal) downloading or hacking.
Le piratage des films est interdit.
([Illegally] downloading movies is forbidden.)
Profil (m) — Profile.
Le profil de Sarah est très détaillé.
(Sarah’s profile is very detailed.)
Réseau social (m) — Social network.
Les adolescents passent beaucoup de temps sur les réseaux sociaux.
(Teenagers spend a lot of time on social networks.)
Selfie (m, although the gender hasn’t been entirely settled yet) — Selfie.
Selfie is short for self-portrait, which is autoportrait (self-portrait) in non-virtual French.
Carole prend beaucoup de selfies.
(Carole takes a lot of selfies.)
Tweet (m) — A tweet.
Les tweets de Rémy sont drôles.
(Rémy’s tweets are funny.)
Utilisateur (m) — User.
Ce réseau social a beaucoup d’utilisateurs.
(This social network has a lot of users.)
Bloquer — To block.
Sandrine a bloqué son ex sur Facebook.
(Sandrine blocked her ex on Facebook.)
Mettre à jour — To update.
J’ai mis à jour mon profil.
(I updated my profile.)
Partager — To share.
Carine a partagé un article intéressant sur Facebook.
(Carine shared an interesting article on Facebook.)
Publier — To publish.
Michel a publié un article intéressant sur son blog.
(Michel published an interesting article on his blog.)
S’abonner — To subscribe.
Je m’abonne au blog de Michel.
(I subscribe to Michel’s blog.)
Se connecter — To log in.
Je me connecte sur Facebook tous les jours.
(I log on to Facebook every day.)
S’inscrire — To register or to sign up.
Alexandre ne veut pas s’inscrire sur Facebook.
(Alexandre does not want to sign up for Facebook.)
Signaler — To report.
J’ai signalé le contenu offensant du site.
(I reported the site’s offensive content.)
Suivre — To follow.
Je suis Leonardo DiCaprio sur Tweeter.
(I follow Leonardo DiCaprio on Twitter.)
Surfer — To surf (the Internet).
Antoine surfe sur Internet pendant son cours d’anglais.
(Antoine surfs the Internet during his English class.)
Taguer — To tag, as in to identify someone in a picture.
Marc m’a tagué(e) dans une photo.
(Marc tagged me in a picture.)
Télécharger — To download/upload.
J’ai téléchargé le nouvel album de Christine and the Queens.
(I downloaded Christine and the Queens’ new album.)
Tweeter — To tweet.
Caroline tweete souvent.
(Caroline tweets often.)
Whew! I hope your memory’s not full! Once you pick a method that fits your fancy (I recommend the memory palace) and you learn these words, your journey through French cyberspace will be smooth sailing. Keep me updated!
And one more thing...
If you like learning French on your own time and from the comfort of your smart device, then I'd be remiss to not tell you about FluentU.
FluentU has a wide variety of great content, like interviews, documentary excerpts and web series, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native French videos with reach. With interactive captions, you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
For example, if you tap on the word "crois," you'll see this:
Practice and reinforce all the vocabulary you've learned in a given video with learn mode. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning, and play the mini-games found in our dynamic flashcards, like "fill in the blank."
All throughout, FluentU tracks the vocabulary that you’re learning and uses this information to give you a totally personalized experience. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.