Friday, January 11, 2013

Fun with French

Greetings from the Great White North!
Picture of view while driving through a foot of snow, while it is snowing
As we begin our 2nd session of French, we want to take the opportunity to share with you some of the French we have had the privilege of learning. The French language has influenced many different cultures all over the world, and you will be surprised at how much you already know or think you know, or know wrong...

1. The French that you already know and use regularly:
Déjà vu, première, bon voyage, façade, faux, faux pas, banquet, corsage, concierge, début, résume, Adieu

2. Food:
Quiche, croissant, crème brulée, sautée, à la carte, bouillon, crêpe, crouton, éclair, mousse, julienne, baguette   

3. The words you use frequently and had no idea they were French:
Blonde, simple, debris, bacon, detest, intense, vacation, scandal, pause, miracle, lapse, journal, park

4. The French you had all wrong:
-Commode – unfortunately does not refer to a toilet. It actually means dresser. Don’t you feel silly?
I keep my socks in the dresser. Je garde mes chaussettes dans la commode.
-Encore – used to request an additional performance. In French, it means “still, yet, or again.”
I am still in school. Je suis encore à l'école.
-Toilette – American’s have butchered this meaning by using it to simply refer to the potty.  In all proper sense, this French word is actually used to reference the things you do to get ready (i.e. brush teeth, comb hair, put on make-up, etc.)
I will be ready to leave after I finish my toilette. Je serai prêt à partir après avoir fini ma toilette.
-Voilà - English speakers tend to believe this means “A-ha!” But it really means “there it is!”
Where is my book? There it is, on the table. Où est mon livre? Voilà, sur la table!
-Soirée – In English, this is a word used for “party” or “gathering”. In French, it means “evening.”
Have a good evening! Passez une bonne soirée!       
-Entrée – American word for main course of their meal. In French, it is a verb used to say “enter”.
We can go in the door that says entrée. Nous pouvons aller dans la porte qui dit entrée

5. Pronunciation, pronunciation, pronunciation! 
-Québec. It is not pronounced as “Qwa-bek.” Think of the word bouquet – (kay). Now think of the word fiancé – (a). Combine the two to form the combination “ué”. 
Québec – (Kay-bec) heavy on the “a” and light on the “c.
-Louis. It is not pronounced as “Lew-us.” Remember the Italian car in the Disney movie “Cars”, Guido? You guess right, “ui” is pronounced with a “w”! 
Louis – (Lu-we)
-Chaise. There is no “ch” sound in the French language. Think of “chic” – sh. 
Chaise – (sh-eh-z) heavy on the “s” sound. 
-Tchad. This is how the French spell the country of “Chad”. Since there is no “ch” sound in the French language, they added a little trick here. By placing a “t” in front of it, they can make the “sh” sound a little more like a “ch” sound because the “t” is most always silent. Although it ends up sounding a little more like “Shad” than “Chad” but it sounds pretty close to the real thing. Another example is depot. You don’t say you are going to the Home Depot (de-pot), but the Home Depot (de-poe). You can thank the French for that one.
-Au jus. The French tend to drop the last letter off of most words, with exceptions of course. 
Au jus – (o – ju). 

*French Trivia!
 --- The phrase MAYDAY actually comes from the French m’aider (pronounced the same). It literally translates to “help me.”
 --- Did you know that RSVP comes from the French words, répondez s'il vous plaît which means "please respond"? So saying “Please RSVP” is redundant.

Now you know some of the French language! 

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