You might not have heard of Ch’ti but if you visit Northern France, even if you just drive through, it’s highly likely you’ll come across this term in shops, on car stickers or in restaurants. It’s a slang term that describes a native of northern France – it is a contraction of the term Ch’timi, and was a term invented during WWI by French soldiers to label their peers from northern France, because, in the local dialect of Northern France, the pronouns “toi” and “moi” would become “ti” and “mi”.
With the release of Dany Boon’s blockbuster (in France at least – where it is the biggest grossing French film ever) movie Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis in 2008, for some people here it became trendy to be from northern France and to be able to understand and speak the ch’ti dialect! Really, that’s what we’ve been told anyway! The title of the film translated into English means “welcome to the sticks” and basically exploits the French feeling that the north of France is a little unsophisticated but really it is beautiful and the film wonderfully portrays the proverb of the ch’tis “A visitor cries twice up north: once on his arrival and once at his departure”.
Bienvenue Chez Les Ch’tis!
Here are some commonly used words that you may come across when visiting the north of France – although “real” French is what everyone speaks – most of the time! You might even want to throw a few words into conversation with your neighbours if you’re in the the lovely Nord-Pas de Calais region – don’t try it in the South though they’ll think you’re bonkers!
|Malicious woman||Méchant Femme||Piche-vinaigre|
|Bad head||mauvaise tête||Mulet|
|Dandelion||Pissenlit||Lach’ron or Lanch’ron|
|Spoiled child||Enfant gâté||Gaga|