Recently I came across a couple of French words I hadn’t seen before – tchatter /tʃa.te/ (to chat) and tchat /tʃat/ (chat). As far as I can tell, they seem to refer particularly to online chat. The definition of tchatter on Reverso is “discuter avec d’autres personnes en temps réel depuis un ordinateur.” (to talk with other people in real time via a computer).

Similar words include:

tchatche /tʃatʃ/, which Reverso defines as ‘jabberism’ (have you heard that one before?), patter, loquacity, verbosity, blather, etc. and which appears in the phrase avoir (de) la tchatche or ‘to have the gift of the gab’.

tchatcher /tʃa.tʃe/ – to talk a lot and charmingly

tchatcheur /tʃa.tʃœʁ/ – a great boaster; a voluable or talkative person.

Another French word for to chat is bavarder, and alternatives to tchatter include bavarder en ligne, cyberbavarder and clavarder – the latter is apparently used in Quebec and is a portmanteau of clavier (keyboard) and bavarder.

According to Wikitionaire tchatter, which is also written chatter and chater, comes from the English word chat, which comes from the Middle English word chateren (to chatter), which is thought to be of imitative origin.

Tchatcher and related words apparently come via Pied-Noir slang from the Spanish word chachara (an animated but futile conversation).

This entry was posted in English, Etymology, French, Language, Spanish, Words and phrases.

4 Responses to Tchatter

  1. Gavin Lamb says:

    Merci pour l’info! Glad to have stumbled across your blog. I hadn’t heard the term Tchatcher before, and I was unaware of Pied-Noir slang as well. It’s interesting the influence social media is having on language use… It also seems like the linguistic differences between generations, at least where I live in the U.S. is perhaps speeding up?

  2. Andrew says:

    When I studied in France, I picked up a similar idiom: faire la causette (avec quelqu’un), which means to have a light conversation. And then there’s “la jacasserie”, which I, as an English speaker, can’t help but chuckle at.

  3. Michel says:

    Yes I confirm that in France the English word “chat” (pr. tʃat) and written the English-way is used on a daily basis which leads to a ridiculous proximity with chat (meaning “cat”). On fait un chat sur les chats ? Chà alors !

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