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French inscription on 892-IV

A building with a French inscription

"Mr. Data, the French language, for centuries on Earth represented civilization."
– Jean-Luc Picard, 2364 ("Code of Honor")

French was a major language of Earth, primarily spoken in France, but also an official language of Canada and popular in other regions, such as New Orleans and several African countries. A notable native speaker was Captain Jean-Luc Picard.

NATO was called "OTAN" in French. (ENT: "Storm Front, Part II")

In 2000, when Shannon O'Donnel had dinner with Henry Janeway in a supposedly Parisian setting, Shannon commented that, unfortunately, she didn't speak French, so Henry would have to make the dinner arrangements. (VOY: "11:59")

In 2022, French was an official language of Canada along with English. Both French and English inscriptions were featured on Canadian dollar notes won by James T. Kirk while visiting Toronto in this time period. (SNW: "Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow")

In 2152, Hoshi Sato answered an offer by Ravis to visit a steam pool on Risa, "Avec plaisir" ("With pleasure"). (ENT: "Two Days and Two Nights")

In 2154, when Sato was delirious due to infection by a silicon-based virus, one of numerous languages she was heard speaking was French. (ENT: "Observer Effect")

When the USS Discovery encountered the Sphere lifeform in 2257, what appeared to be a computer virus caused the universal translator to translate the crew's speech into a chaotic cacophony of languages. As the problem began, Captain Christopher Pike was surprised to hear French coming out of his own mouth, "Pourquoi parlez-vous Klingon?" ("Why are you speaking Klingon?") As Saru attempted to restore order, the computer reported: "Défaillance du logiciel de traduction détectée." (DIS: "An Obol for Charon")

Only Captain Pike's statement was subtitled. The computer's report translates to: "Failure of the translation software detected."

Upon hearing Lieutenant DeSalle's French name in 2267, Trelane asked him, in French, if he was really French ("Un vrai Français?"). After DeSalle answered positively, Trelane exclaimed, "Ah, monsieur! Vive la gloire! Vive Napoléon!" ("Ah, sir! Long live the glory! Long live Napoléon!") (TOS: "The Squire of Gothos")

In 2268, Cyrano Jones said, "Au revoir," when departing a meeting on Deep Space Station K-7. James Kirk later used the phrase on his own departure. (TOS: "The Trouble with Tribbles")

French was also spoken on 892-IV. One Roman-influenced building on the planet's surface had the words "Honneur et Patrie" ("Honor and Fatherland") inscribed on the facade. (TOS: "Bread and Circuses")

James Kirk used an Earth expression, "C'est la vie," while speaking with Kruge to describe the unfortunate destruction of the USS Enterprise and Kruge's boarding party. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

By the 24th century, French was considered by some to be an archaic language but was still spoken to some extent. (TNG: "Code of Honor", "Family") As a native of France, Jean-Luc Picard was fluent in the language, including folk songs and curses. (TNG: "Disaster", "The Last Outpost", "Elementary, Dear Data")

In 2364, the holodeck character Minuet engaged Captain Picard in a conversation in French. In their brief dialogue, both Picard and Minuet remarked, "Nous sommes tous Parisiens," meaning "We are all Parisians [in spirit]." (TNG: "11001001")

The holographic gangster Cyrus Redblock from the Dixon Hill series of holoprograms said, "Au revoir et bonne chance, mon ami ("Goodbye and good luck, my friend") before he left the holodeck and dissolved in a corridor of the USS Enterprise-D. (TNG: "The Big Goodbye")

Captain Picard said goodbye to Natasha Yar in French following her funeral ceremony on the holodeck. (TNG: "Skin Of Evil")

After time traveling from 2368 to 1893 San Francisco, Data identified himself as a Frenchman, and spoke French with a native speaker of the language, Frederick La Rouque. (TNG: "Time's Arrow")

Quark used the French term "objet d'art" when Odo suggested that Morn may have spent his money on works of art. (DS9: "Who Mourns for Morn?")

Odo learned French in late 2374, from Vic Fontaine. The Changeling believed it to be "the language of love". (DS9: "His Way")

The Gigolo in the holographic program Paris 3 (Chez Sandríne) spoke French, using terms such as "ma cherie" and "reculez-vous". (VOY: "The Cloud")

When the CSS La Sirena travelled back in time to 2024 and landed near Château Picard, the Borg Queen was able to infiltrate the French cellular phone network. After speaking to an operator in English, she spoke to a French National Police dispatcher in French, summoning a police officer to the château by claiming that a woman was in distress. When Leclerc boarded La Sirena, she spoke to him in English, which he was also able to speak. (PIC: "Fly Me to the Moon")

In a deleted scene from "Remembrance" of Star Trek: Picard, Captain Picard chastises his dog Number One in French, then tells the dog not to pretend that he doesn't speak it and that they had practiced. He then berates a group of workers for their treatment of Laris in French.

French literature and music[]

French language establishments[]

Usages of the French language[]

French terms
Phrase Literal translation Application, notes Citation
À la "in the manner/style of" Parthas a la Yuta, Chicken a la Sisko TNG: "The Vengeance Factor", "Time's Arrow"; DS9: "Shattered Mirror"
Aide-de-camp "camp helper" / adjutant Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Au contraire "On the contrary" "Hide And Q", "Deja Q", "Tapestry"
Au revoir "Goodbye" "The Trouble with Tribbles", "Skin Of Evil", "The Big Goodbye", "Death Wish", "The Killing Game"
Bon appétit "Good appetite" Inviting someone to enjoy a meal "His Way"; "11:59", "Mortal Coil"
Bon mot "Good word" Used to describe a clever story or witticism "The Outrageous Okona"
Bon voyage / Bon voyage mon ami "Good journey" / "Good journey my friend" "Relics", "Thirty Days", "Life Line" / "Encounter at Farpoint"
Bonjour "Hello" Spoken by Neelix VOY: "The Killing Game"
Bureau Government office Bureau of Identification, Bureau of Planetary Treaties, Cardassian Intelligence Bureau, Central Bureau of Penology, Federation Bureau of Industrialization, Media Bureau, Space Bureau, Starfleet Bureau of Information
Café Coffee shop TOS: "Patterns of Force", et al.
Canapé Small piece of bread topped with savory foods Regular and Bularian canapé TNG: "Journey's End", "Preemptive Strike"; DS9: "Rivals", "The House of Quark"; VOY: "Latent Image"
Capitaine Captain TNG: "Hollow Pursuits"
Cinq dollars Five dollars Visible on Canadian currency SNW: "Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow"
Coup d'état A sudden overthrow of a state "The Siege", "The Adversary"
Coup de grâce A final blow Describing a finishing touch to a deal, guaranteed to make the other party accept "The Perfect Mate"
Counting coup "Code of Honor"
Déjà vu "Already seen" Describes either something that has happened again, or a feeling that it has "We'll Always Have Paris"
En garde "On guard" Used for announcing the beginning of a fencing bout or sword fight "We'll Always Have Paris"; "Hollow Pursuits"
En route "On route" Term borrowed by the English language "A Taste of Armageddon", et. al.
Foie gras "Fat liver" A dish made from a duck or goose's fattened liver "Body and Soul"
Hors d'œuvre "Outside the work" An appetizer before the main meal "The Big Goodbye"
Joie de vivre "joy of life" The outlook of living life joyfully "Drone"
Madame "My lady" A title of respect "The Price"; "Rocks and Shoals"
Maître d' Shortening of maître d'hôtel, "headwaiter," literally "master of the hotel" Term borrowed by the English language "11:59"; Star Trek: First Contact
Maman "Mom" Term of endearment "Where No One Has Gone Before"
Merde "Shit" A profane term TNG: "The Last Outpost", "Elementary, Dear Data"
mon capitaine "my Captain" (standard French way to address a person with that rank) "Encounter at Farpoint", "Deja Q", "Qpid", "Tapestry"
Moi "Me" Spoken by Q TNG: "Q Who"
Monsieur "My lord" Used as a term of formal address for a Frenchman; equivalent to Mr. TOS: "The Squire of Gothos"; TNG: "We'll Always Have Paris"
Pièce de résistance "Piece which has staying power" "Plato's Stepchildren"
Poutine A French-Canadian dish featuring French fries, cheese, and gravy SNW: "Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow"
Salut "[To your] health/salvation" A general toast (although in French the correct toast is santé and salut means "Hello") "Family"
Soirée "Evening, evening gathering" Term borrowed by the English language "Ensign Ro"
Tour de force "Feat of strength" Term borrowed by the English language VOY: "Fair Haven"
Voilà "There it is" Used when showing off something "Far Beyond the Stars", "Twisted", "His Way", "Remember"

Background information[]

A few episode titles derive from French expressions:

(The title "Deja Q" omitted the accents on the word déjà, even though "Ménage à Troi," from the same season, employed the very same accents.)

The title of TNG: "The Dauphin" derives from the title of the crown prince of France. Since the royal character in the episode is a woman, the French translation of the episode changed the title to the feminine form, La dauphine.

The final line of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, "The more things change, the more they stay the same," is a translation of the French aphorism by Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."

External links[]