It’s Lundi, which translates into the weekly conversation between my delightful friend and partner, Jeanne-Aelia Desparmet-Hart, creator of the exquisite blog, Through the French Eye of Design, and moi.
For those of you unfamiliar with our “Transatlantic Parallel” exchange, it is the long-distance conversation between two women, one French living outside New York, the other American living outside Paris. Every Monday we select a subject to examine in our adopted lands which because of our official status as les etrangéres, we may find funny, infuriating, frustrating or just plain odd.
Then we share our experiences with you — the good, the bad and the unfortunate — as we daily cope with the cultural pleasures and pressures of living on opposite sides of the Atlantic.
Today is Part Two of our conversation from last week about those pesky faux amis (false friends as it applies to the language). Many are, one thinks to one’s great dismay and often embarrassment, the same words in both languages. After all, they look and sound the same it seems so it’s only logical. . . Ah, non.
The misuse of these words, I’ve discovered, has put me in the following types of situations: all conversation comes to an abrupt halt while people stare in shock and disbelief, a minor tiff can be ignited or after a polite silence, gales of laughter may ensue.
The following are examples of those dangerous “false friends” which have often made my life complicated, funny or annoying (I know Jeanne-Aelia has her own collection which you will find chez elle today.)
1.) Slip: the gorgeous garment Elizabeth Taylor famously wore. Slip: men’s underpants.
2.) Eventually: finally. Eventuellement: possibly.
3.) Expertise: competence. Expertise: an expert’s report.
4.) Raisins: dried grapes. Raisins: grapes.
5.) Lecture: a speech or a scolding (remember?). Lecture: reading material.
6.) Medicine: medication. Médecin: a doctor (ours is great, he looks like a rock star).
7.) Photograph: the picture taken by a photographer. Photographe: the person who took the picture.
8.) Store: a place where you buy things. Store: shades or blinds.
9.) Editor: someone it would be nice to have correcting this blog after I write a post. Editeur: a publishing house.
10.) Fatal: resulting in death. Fatal: fated. (One might see the connection, but misused it presents a real problem.)
11.) Entree: the main course. Entrée: the first course in a meal — one enters into a repast, it makes sense.
12.) Physician: a doctor. Physicien: a physicist.
13.) Prune: a dried plum. Prune: a plum.
14.) Rude: impolite. Rude: rough, rugged.
15.) Consistent: coherent. Consistant: solid, thick.
16.) Sort: arrange stuff. Sort: fate (although you don’t pronounce the “t” in French).
17.) Spot: where you splashed the sauce on your shirt. Spot: an ad on television.
18.) Vest: a vest, waistcoat. Veste: a jacket. (Here you have a man wearing a vest and a veste.)
19.) Baskets: those pretty woven containers to carry things. Baskets: sneakers.
20.) Important: urgent, significant, top priority. Important: large, substantial.
21.) Inhabited: somebody lives there. Inhabité: someone doesn’t live there.
22.) Large: grand, big. Large: wide.
23.) Comprehensive: complete. Compréhensif: understanding.
24.) Partition: a separation between two spaces. Partition: a musical score.
And just for fun, a couple of surprising words that can throw me off course which I think — Jeanne-Aelia correct me if I’m wrong — are slang, but one hears all the time these days:
- Terrible: tragic, awful. Terrible: fabulous, great, the best of the best.
- Extra: more, an addition to something: Extra: the best, first rate.
Facelifts are referred to simply as “liftings” as in, “OMG, did you see that? She’s just had a lifting.”
Now you must rush over to visit Jeanne-Aelia to see what delights she is offering today. Please chere amie tell me if I’ve made any mistakes. You’re the expert.