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Lesson Transcript

Michael: What are some French-English false friends?
Aurore: And what are some words that are often used incorrectly?
Michael: At FrenchPod101.com, we hear these questions often. Ben Lee sees a building with a signboard saying "Librairie." He says to his colleague, Justine Jerome,
"I want to borrow a book."
Ben Lee: Je veux emprunter un livre.
Ben Lee: Je veux emprunter un livre.
Justine Jérôme: Mais c'est une librairie !
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
Ben Lee: Je veux emprunter un livre.
Michael: "I want to borrow a book."
Justine Jérôme: Mais c'est une librairie !
Michael: "But it's a bookstore!"

Lesson focus

Michael: In this conversation, we hear Ben Lee say,
Aurore: Je veux emprunter un livre.
Michael: which means, "I want to borrow a book." In response, Justine Jerome says,
Aurore: Mais c'est une librairie !
Michael: In English, this means, "But it's a bookstore!"
Michael: In this lesson, we'll focus on examples of false friends between French and English.
Michael: Because much of English and French vocabulary derives from Latin roots, there are undoubtedly similarities between the two languages. Take French verbs like "admire," "capture," "enter," "invite:"
Aurore: admirer, capturer, entrer, inviter,
Michael: or "notify"
Aurore: notifier.
Michael: These are all cognates between French and English. Furthermore, English has taken many loanwords from French, words like
Aurore: blouse, souvenir, cliché, faux pas,
Michael: and
Aurore: café.
Michael: On the other hand, there are also many "false friends," or false cognates between languages. English speakers may see the word
Aurore: actuellement [SLOW] actuellement,
Michael: for example, and assume it means "actually." In fact, this word means "currently." Conversely, the correct translation of the word "actually" in French is
Aurore: réellement [SLOW] réellement
Aurore: Monnaie [SLOW] monnaie
Michael: may look like the word "money" in English, but its translation is actually "change."
Aurore: Blessé [SLOW] blessé
Michael: looks very similar to the word "blessed" in English, but it actually means "injured" in French.
Michael: Cognates and false cognates are inevitable when we are studying a new language that shares many things in common with our native language or another language we know very well. Be mindful as you build your vocabulary in French so that you can mean what you say and say what you mean!
[Recall 1]
Michael: Let's take a closer look at the dialogue.
Do you remember how Ben Lee says "I want to borrow a book"?
(pause 4 seconds)
Aurore as Ben Lee: Je veux emprunter un livre.
Michael: Here, Ben Lee says he wants to borrow a book as he just saw a sign reading "Librairie" which he thought was the same as "Library" in English. However, though these two words look very similar, the French word
Aurore: librairie [SLOW] librairie
Michael: means "book shop," while "library" would be
Aurore: bibliothèque [SLOW] bibliothèque.
Michael: This is why Justine Jerome is surprised! As mentioned earlier, French and English share a lot of similar words, and some are even spelled the same way—like "table" for example—but they don't always mean the same thing. All languages change over time, and seeing as French and English are centuries-old languages, you can't exactly expect them to have evolved the same way. So be wary of these false friends
Aurore: faux-amis
Michael: when learning French, and do look them up to verify what each similar pair means to avoid making mistakes!
Michael: In this lesson, you've learned that, despite the fact that English and French share common Latin origins and therefore have similar-looking words, each language has changed differently over time, with words shifting meaning for various reasons. So don't let the French language fool you when you hear a word that sounds very similar to the English—it might, in fact, not mean what you think!
Now, let's look at some more examples. Our first example is
Aurore: sympathique [SLOW] sympathique.
Michael: This adjective looks like the word "sympathetic" in English, but it actually means "nice." "That guy's very nice!"
Aurore: Ce type est très sympatique.
Michael: The next one is the noun
Aurore: collège.
Michael: The english word "college" is spelled exactly the same, except for the accent. Each word is related to education, but the French
Aurore: [SLOW] collège
Michael: means "middle-school!" Lastly, the adjective
Aurore: sensible [SLOW] sensible
Michael: means "sensitive" in French, while it has a completely different meaning in English, despite the same spelling!
Michael: Interestingly, the French have also borrowed certain words from the English without keeping their original meanings. So don't be surprised if you come across English words that have a completely different meaning in your French lessons. Take
Aurore: smoking [SLOW] smoking
Michael: for example. In French, this means "tuxedo." It came from the term "smoking jacket" a long time ago, but now has nothing to do with actual smoking.
The same goes for
Aurore: baskets [SLOW] baskets,
Michael: which means "sneakers." We could go on and on, but you get the point: false friends are numerous in French and English!
Cultural Insight/Expansion
Michael: As mentioned earlier on, it's always best to check your dictionary when coming across a French word that looks like an English one to double-check what it means. However, even the French make mistakes and use
Aurore: faux-amis
Michael: in their day-to-day conversations. Though this might sound weird, globalization has had such an impact that the English language is ever-present in France: on television, on the radio, in bookshops, everywhere! In fact, the French are so used to seeing English and hearing it being used around them that they've started using words that look the same in both languages but with their English meaning. Take
Aurore: supporter [SLOW] supporter
Michale: for example. Originally, this word meant "to stand" in French, as in "I can't stand this guy!"
Aurore: Je ne supporte pas ce type!
Michael: Although the French and English meanings are worlds apart, the French are so used to hearing English-speakers say that they "support" this sports team or that person that they've actually borrowed the meaning! Nowadays, it's quite common to hear French people say:
Aurore: Je supporte cette équipe,
Michael: which means "I support this team," although the original French word has a completely different meaning.


Michael: Do you have any more questions? We're here to answer them!
Aurore: À bientôt!
Michael: See you soon!

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