1st Edition

The Routledge Dictionary of Cultural References in Modern French

ISBN 9780415597944
Published June 7, 2011 by Routledge
500 Pages

USD $62.95

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Book Description

The Routledge Dictionary of Cultural References in Modern French reveals the hidden cultural dimension of contemporary French, as used in the press, going beyond the limited and purely lexical approach of traditional bilingual dictionaries.

Even foreign learners of French who possess a good level of French often have difficulty in fully understanding French articles, not because of any linguistic shortcomings on their part but because of their inadequate knowledge of the cultural references.

This cultural dictionary of French provides the reader with clear and concise explanations of the crucial cultural dimension behind the most frequently used words and phrases found in the contemporary French press. This vital background information, gathered here in this innovative and entertaining dictionary, will allow readers to go beyond a superficial understanding of the French press and the French language in general, to see the hidden yet implied cultural significance that is so transparent to the native speaker.

Key features:

a broad range of cultural references from the historical and literary to the popular and classical, with an in-depth analysis of punning mechanisms.

over 3,000 cultural references explained

a three-level indicator of frequency

over 600 questions to test knowledge before and after reading.


The Routledge Dictionary of Cultural References in Modern French is the ideal reference for all undergraduate and postgraduate students of French seeking to enhance their understanding of the French language. It will also be of interest to teachers, translators and Francophiles alike. French students in khâgne, Sciences-Po and schools of journalism will also find this valuable and relevant for their studies.

Table of Contents

Introduction  1. Popular Cultural References  2. Famous Words  3. Figurative Expressions  4. Headline Punning  5. Literary Allusions  6. Historical References  7. Mythological and Classical References  8.  Biblical References  9. Who’s Who and Nicknames of the Makers and Shakers  10. What’s What  11. Skeletons in Marianne’s Cupboard  12. Metonyms, Periphrasis and Significant Place Names  13. Foreign Words and Expressions  14. Acronyms  Quizzes  Index

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Michael Mould has taught and translated in France for over 40 years. He was Head of the Language and Translation Department at France Telecom Corporate Headquarters in Paris for over 25 years and has been an associate of the Chartered Institute of Linguists since 1981. Previous publications include L’Anglais des Ressources Humaines (2003) and Corporate English (1995).


"This book is an irreplaceable aid to understanding the connotative meaning of words and indeed sometimes the meaning of the words themselves. As a French person, I found it fascinating to discover the history of many of our unusual maxims. For someone learning French, this dictionary really helps one to get under the skin of the language and culture of France. As well as serving an academic purpose, the dictionary definitions are light-hearted and this book will delight teachers, students and lovers of the French language alike." - Chrystel Hug, Alliance Française de Londres.

"It provides the English-speaking reader with an insight into the mind-set of the French establishment...Thoroughly recommended." - Central Brittany Journal

"What an interesting and enjoyable book. A mine of information that will complement the more conventional dictionary but will also entertain." - Jeremy Munday, The Linguist

"I shall in future be reaching for this volume rather than just passing over what I might find obscure but believe is not essential to understanding...For any regular reader of the French print media it has to be indispensable."- Riviera Reporter

"What a fabulous book! Mould has done an amazing job in pulling together thousands of examples of words and phrases that are part of everyday life [in France] but which are not to be found in French-English dictionaries" - The Connexion, Dec 2011

"A formidable undertaking, and a considerable achievement… engage with it as an enjoyable read, dipping into it like moreish intellectual snack food." - Francophonie, 2012