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I've always used ''furansugo'' to express the French language.

But I've noticed another word, namely ''futsugo'' which also means French.

My guess is that ''furansugo'' is used in normal speech whereas ''futsugo'' is only used in very formal speech.

Any insight into these two words?

When do I use each and is one older than the other?

16

My guess is that ''furansugo'' is used in normal speech whereas ''futsugo'' is only used in very formal speech.

You're on the right track. Nowadays the only European language called by its kanji name in speech is 英語. I'd say that it's rather inevitable because if you say イギリス語 it'd sound like "British English".

So, virtually nobody use 仏語【ふつご】 instead of フランス語 in conversation, but it is very common in writing because of the breathtaking 250% space saving and some formal feel. (See also: 私は米国人です vs 私はアメリカ人です and this particular answer)

Beware of a homograph 仏語【ぶつご】 that means "Buddha's words".

4

This is a similar difference to that of saying アメリカ (Modern sound-conversion of a word) and [米国]{べいこく} (Using kanji that previously represented sound-conversion of a word through ateji).

[仏語]{ふつご} is actually a shortened form of [仏蘭西]{ふらんす}語{ご}, with 仏蘭西{ふらんす} being archaic [当]{あ}て[字]{じ} (kanji characters used in place of kana) for now-katakanized フランス.

The [仏]{ふ} in [仏蘭西]{ふらんす} just so happens to have an [音]{おん}[読]{よ}み (Pronunciations derived from Chinese origins) of [仏]{ふつ}, giving us [仏語]{ふつご} as a shorthand.

Therefore, it is safe to assume that [仏語]{ふつご}, due to it having an older origin, is technically considered more "formal" speech than フランス語, similar to how [米国]{べいこく} is used in news while アメリカ is rarely mentioned.

As a general rule of thumb as well, kanji is considered more formal than using kana.

Hope this helped!

  • 5
    I would just note that it's not unusual to see or hear アメリカ in the news. But 米 abbreviations are typically used in cases where space might be important. – Leebo Oct 26 '19 at 21:34
  • 2
    ... just be careful with アメリカ語... – Andrew T. Oct 27 '19 at 10:55

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