May 7, 2007

Six Nicknames for French Presidents & Presidential Candidates

Yesterday’s presidential election in France featured two opponents who, despite their differences, actually have a few interesting things in common: both were born after World War II; neither previously held the office of prime minister or president (a first for a presidential candidate since the 1970s); and both have pithy and sound bite ready nicknames. The winner of the election, Nicolas Sarkozy, is often referred to in the media as “Sarko,” and his opponent, Ségolène Royal, was dubbed Sego (or Ségo).

It seems there is a bit of a tradition of giving French presidents and presidential candidates such hypocoristic (“endearing”) nicknames, as discussed in this fascinating post on the Language Log Web site.

  • Ségolène Royal: Sego/Ségo
  • Nicolas Sarkozy: Sarko
  • Jacques Chirac (Current President): Chichi; le Chi
  • François Mitterand (President, 1981-1995): Tonton
  • George Pompidou (President, 1969-1974): Pompon
  • General Charles de Gaulle (President, 1959-1969): le grand Charles; le grand Charlot

Comments are closed.