So you can speak French ? Language learning.

Just as they pop in to my head, a few things you may not learn at your evening class:-  (accents missing)


to rob Peter to pay Paul – deshabiller Paul pour habiller Jacques

jet lag – decalage horaire

alarm clock – le reveil

the News – le journal, or sometimes les actualites

homeward-bound –  au bon port

chicken- if it is a live chicken it is une poule, but if it is a dead one for cooking it is du poulet

back ache – mail au reins (les reins being the kidneys) if it is low back pain, otherwise it is mal au dos

custard – creme anglaise, though their version is runny and a bit light

jig-saw puzzle – un puzzle (pronounced puzz-ll)

Scrabble – le Scrabble (probounced Scrab-ll)

crumble – un crumble (pronounced crum-b-ll)

sweat shirt – un sweat (often written & pronounced swit)

no hard shoulder (on a road) – chaussee deformee

A French word I really like and that has no accurate translation is “les retrouvailles“. This is a noun created from the verb trouver, to find, and thence retrouver, to find again.  “J’ai retrouve mes amis a la gare” = I met my friends at the station (I re-found them).  The meeting of those friends, having not seen them for days or years, is called les retrouvailles – the finding-againses. Great word.

(illustration: an old gent watching a game of boules in the nearby village of Brouage, France).

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Catherine Broughton is a novelist, a poet and an artist. She has travelled a great deal and blogs regularly.  Her books are available from Amazon (& Kindle) or can be ordered from most leading book stores and libraries; they are also available as e-books on this site,



Posted on 04/07/2013 by Catherine
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