I am currently trying to learn French (I say “trying” because I’ve been teaching it to myself for the last several years, with varying degrees of success), and one of the joys of such a hobby is stumbling along French phrases which are amusing to a native English speaker – turns of phrase that are appealingly odd. Par exemple:
The little lunch. The word for “lunch” in French is “le dejeuner”1, and the word for “breakfast” is “le petit dejeuner” – “little lunch”. (Extra trivia: “jeuner” means “to fast”, so the French word for “lunch” translates literally to “un-fast”, similar to the English “breakfast”.)
Lemons and limes. In French, a lemon is “un citron“, and a lime is “un citron vert” – “a green lemon”.
Apples and potatoes. This is one of my favourites. An apple is “une pomme“, and a potato is “une pomme de terre” – “apple of the earth”. Something about that is just utterly lovely, the idea that a potato is an apple’s earthy cousin.
Redfish. In French, a goldfish is “un poisson rouge” – making it a redfish if translated literally.
- I believe there’s an accent over one of those Es – but I have no idea how to format those on my Anglo keyboard, so I’m not going to bother with them [↩]