How to translate French words (3 clever tricks)

A nice little gem…


All those lessens I had seem such a waste now :joy:


Very interesting, I knew all those words but hadn’t made the connections with all of them, expecially the GUs for the Ws.

I then went on to see his gender video and asked the question, because he didn’t, why is English almost the only language which doesn’t use them. My answer is commonsense. There is absolutely no point in assigning gender to inanimate objects, or even animate ones except for sex. We have proved we can manage perfectly well without. Indeed most French people can still understand us when we get the gender wrong, I haven’t met a French person yet who didn’t know what le chaise was. :rofl:

I have a theory as to why French people do not often forget or confuse gender. Could it be that they are taught at school nouns as if they are one word, that is lachaise instead of la chaise?

And while we are about it, accents, what is the point of those? Again, English seems to be the only language in step without them. And if anyone doesn’t agree with that, perhaps they might explain why English is more widely spoken than almost any other. Perhaps because it is easier?

I mean every word of that but admit I am being provocative, and now I sit back and wait for one person in particular to respond and perhaps castigate me. :wink: :thinking: :rofl:

1 Like

His 3 tricks are things I teach my pupils right at the start. Incidentally many native speakers of English find Old French much easier to learn than many speakers of modern French. (Just as speakers of German and Scandinavian languages find Old English super easy).
English is super super easy to speak badly but still communicate even if approximatively so that plus history is why it is so successful I think.

No we don’t learn them at school it is our language: obv we will learn some things at school but most speech is learnt organically.


I’m surprised he didn’t mention words ending in -tion. We have so many in common.
When I was in Brazil I was complemented on my “sophisticated” Portuguese. In fact I was blagging it most of the time - taking a “-tion” ending English word and substituting the ending for “-ção” and a lot of the time I got away with it. :grinning:


Because usually that’s how they end in both languages (Fr and Eng) so there’s no difficulty.

1 Like

Phew, I think I got away lightly, thank you for that. :joy:
As to speaking English badly my main teeth grinder is not American, but English people who speak American in the belief they are speaking English.
But what about my point about the French still understanding English people who get genders wrong? Does that not prove the point about the irrelevance of them?

1 Like

That’s just how it is - the small number of words which can be either don’t have much impact, le tour la tour etc. I can imagine that in a few centuries we might no longer have grammatical gender in French but who knows. Many languages have the same problem - if it is one - maybe everything will switch to neutral in German for example. Language evolves but I think that it evolves a lot faster in societies where little or no writing is done since writing tends to impose normative, prescriptive grammar.
Romance languages are after all just pidgin Latin :wink:


I was going to mention that… but you beat me to it :wink:

1 Like

I still don’t understand why English, almost alone amongst all the languages has evolved for centuries away from gender while the others haven’t.

Anyway, French is easy peasy compared to the language, the dictionary of which I have as a mousepad, Welsh. :rofl:
A cousin of mine (once removed and by marriage) was brought up in N. Wales as a Welsh speaker in the '30s and was punished (a very common theme amongst minorities) if heard speaking his native language. He became a schoolteacher and a headmaster in England for all his career and after retirement moved back to his Welsh village with his English wife. They thought they would learn/relearn Welsh, the language that they now heard all about them, and went to night school. They gave up, it was simply too difficult at an advanced age. I can’t even imagine his shame and sorrow.

Just one of those things possibly to do with the fact that it has a German Scandi base with such a huge admixture of French, and the genders aren’t necessarily the same in both systems, so English became a pidgin itself, then a Creole. Die Sonne but le soleil, la lune but der Mond. Easy to make them all the!
Persian has common gender for everything including animate creatures so “Ou” means he she and it.

a useful resource of history of the English language from good old Wikipedia:

I think very much bears out what @vero says about its origins…

He has a nice delivery. Similar tricks are available for Russian eg their G (written r) can often become an H in English.

I think same can be done across many language pairs. I think philologists probably have ‘elision tables’ where a b, v and p can be related, say and therefore transpose each other often in particular language pairs. I’m guessing it’s biological in the shape of the mouth, which consonants relate to each other, it probably changes with underlying language and geography.

This kind of ‘slippage’ particularly of consonants was an area I would have looked at doing a doctorate in if being an academic had been a realistic prospect. I would have particularly looked at it with dialects - where 2 villages 20 miles apart have this ‘slippage’ of consonants and each has developed a different ‘slipped’ word meaning the same thing. I felt there might be a methodology to be developed to make a set of ‘universal crib sheets’ across languages.

1 Like

That sort of slippage and metathesis was an area I was interested in when I did my first degree in Germany :slightly_smiling_face: (philology). Interesting looking at Grimm’s law the Tudor vowel shift etc but also just how sounds tend to shift from an anecdotal point of view, as one studies languages. I find it interesting how Persian deals with Arabic and Turkic loanwords for example, seeing they are 3 different linguistic families. Also how Mandarin Korean and Japanese differ in how they pronounce and transcribe particular words which are basically the same. My PAT are a lot better than my MKJ though.

1 Like

That’s interesting… vanessa often says to me to watch the mouth (or is it watch my mouth) when listening to French people speaking… :grin:

1 Like

Yes it was the German dialects I was particularly thinking of but Yorkshire dialects look interesting and Scottish (and Yiddish) seem like old German.

Language shapes features from a common base, you aren’t born with a determined language. Because of growing up with people speaking certain languages around me I can usually identify what language they speak by looking at them before I hear them.
But it’s the same in eg Syria where you can identify what religion a person is by their looks if you’ve lived there for a bit, but a newcomer will not see the difference.

1 Like

reminds me of an old “tailor” joke… “not only were those trousers tight, you could tell what religion he was”
I’ll get me coat :coat:


Coming from a near zero French start, it seems to me that gender in French is often more about the flow of sounds than a sex identification. So la maison is more easily said than le maison, le stylo easier than la stylo etc. If I stop trying to remember I do much better than trying to dredge up the right gender.

So basically bastards from unmarried parents then. I’ll drink to that. :wink: :smiley:
I have always been fascinated by language, and even more so by differences within languages, dialects. It is amazing how well people with different dialects within the same language understand each other with a few exceptions, often due to entirely different words. Recently the English word for a path not wide enough for traffic other than pedestrians and cyclists was discussed here I think. Having spent my first 7 years taking short cuts through alleys in my native Manchester I arrived in Nottingham mystified as to what I was supposed to do with a twitchell. :grinning:

Likewise in France, although I am not sure I know different dialect words, rather vastly different pronunciations vin, vam, veng for instance, and one I recently recounted which floored me the first time I heard it many years ago, manom (maintenant). I have been in the fortunate position, due to my professional calling of HGV driver, of observing these differences all at the same time in the same places, the routier restaurants, and have found that, whereas a poor imitation of a word pronunciation learned at school sometimes confused people, focussing on the way people speak around me here often fared me better.

1 Like