Friend or faux?

Sometimes when speaking (or trying to speak) French I find myself lulled into a false sense of security by the familiarity of many of the words. Surely, I think naively to myself, if I just say the English word in my most outrageous French accent, they’ll understand what I mean? Sadly, it doesn’t always work like that, and this is because of the very many tricky little words (known as false friends) that are spelt almost exactly like those in English, but which have either subtly, or sometimes devastatingly, different meanings. Some of the most unnerving include les baskets – trainers (shoes); eventuellement, which means possible, not eventually, and could get you into all sorts of problems at work; plein, which can mean full, but can also mean pregnant – look out in restaurants; and deranger, which is actually my favourite little false friend, because I do love phoning people up and starting the conversation by hoping that I am not deranging them (ie. disturbing them), which surely I will be by the end of the conversation with me in French! But the one which for me, takes le biscuit* in the confusion prize, is terrible, which can mean both terrific, and terrible. How do you know which? Search me.

*Biscuits, gateaux, crackers etc open another whole can of worms in the false friend department (‘scuse mixed metaphor) which I wfaux-amiill attempt to decipher at a later date.

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4 Responses to “Friend or faux?”

  1. You’re updating your blog regularly and even using pictures. I think it’s time you had another baby.

  2. New here, via disgruntled cycling mouse.
    My favourite false friends are both rather rude :
    Going to the bakers for jam preservative
    and introducing a buxom friend to a bunch of froggie squaddies,
    I managed both those DESPITE a French degree!
    j

    • I think I can guess how the first conversation may have gone, but the second eludes me. Feel free to elaborate (so i can avoid making a similar mistake in the unlikely event that I am ever in the same situation!)

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