• Harriot Grinnell-Moore

Je Yaourte. You Yoghurt...?


So, there are several things in the French language that I still struggle with, why say "j’ai faim" and "j’ai froid" and "j'ai vingt ans" but not "j’ai fatigué"? It makes no sense, even my French friends cannot provide me with an answer. Yet, they always justify saying "I have 20 years" and "I have cold" because these are things that you possess and not things that you are. So therefore, do the French think you actually are tired and it's not just a temporary state? Actually, maybe I do see the logic there...

However, can we talk about the fact that they have the exact same word for stepfather and father-in-law, who thought this was a good idea?! Who thought that it was too much effort to have another word, in order to avoid the very confusing conversations I've been subjected to...

"Son beau-père est très sympa"

"C'est gentil pour lui, quel âge a-t-il?"

"Il a sept ans"

"Quoi?! Oh le mari de sa mere?"

"Oui? Son beau-père..."

Oh, and the difference between bien and bon? Well that’s just a guessing game it seems! You can’t say I’m on the bus as you would in English or you get a lot of funny looks (as I’ve learnt) you have to say you’re in the bus which just sounds weird, but is more accurate, I guess. Actuellement doesn't actually mean actually (yes it's another "faux amis") it really means at the moment.

Even Disney films are a source of confusing language problems. Showing my ignorance the other day, I assumed that all Disney characters were universally named. Oh no, no, no... In France Moana is Vaiana and Elsa is La Reine des Neiges, confusing, yes. It is especially embarrassing too, when you start arguing with a seven year old about how Anna's sister is called Elsa not the Snow Queen, only to be proven ( kind of ) wrong.

There are also a few French words that I just find funny to use, calling a suit "une costume" or a trolley "un chariot" and finally, my personal favourite, "Yaourter". This one is not a "faux amis" it does literally mean to yoghurt. Yep, "je yaourte" is an actual thing french people say! Although, by it they mean they are speaking or singing in a language they don't know well or are faking completely. For example, 90% of the people who "sing" along to despacito - ils yaourtent.

So, I'm off to watch Vaiana which I think is a bon (??) film, in French, although I will probably yaourterai the songs and after je serai très fatigué due to crying over how complicated the French make French.

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Contact me: helgm1@gmail.com | The Netherlands

© 2017 by Harriot E.L. Grinnell-Moore

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