mots amis ou … faux amis …

(à traduire en français … un volontaire? )

When I first began teaching English in France, I heard an expression I had never encounterd before: False Friends. What in the world could that mean? Only a Frenchman would know … that he meant look-alikes or even worse, imposters or traitors!

There are quite a few words which, in French and in English, have the same or similar spellings, maybe the same roots but which are not used in the same ways in the two languages.  As with wild mushrooms … some look-alikes … are dangerous.

If you hear a Frenchman say “actually” in English … you can be suspicious. The word slips into a sentence easily and isn’t illogical in most cases. If the Frenchman knows that the word means “in fact” and he uses it that way … that’s fine. BUT if he thinks that “actually” is the faithful translation of the French word “actuellement” … we’re mistaken and into … look-alikes: A fair translation of the idea of “actuellement” would be “now, at the present time.”

We are thus facing not just two words but two different concepts.

The French word, actuel, expresses a concept in TIME; the English word actual expresses the concept of fact, of ACCURACY.

Misunderstandings are born of … assumptions. Beware of look-alikes!

Fortunately … “false” friends aren’t the only kind … There are thousands of real ones, those you can count on, including the TV series …

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