French and You: What You Don’t Know You Already Know

If you are reading this, chances are you have an interest in the French language. Maybe you are considering learning it, or already are. You might even be a Francophile, someone who loves French language and culture. To see if you are, go take Laura Lawless’s quiz over at

French is a language spoken by a lot of gens around le monde.  Is it hard to learn? Well, the 128 million who speak it will tell you it’s not. The reality is that it is not the easiest language around, with a somewhat rigid grammar code, awkward sounds and gendered nouns.

However, you may already know more French than you think. Indeed, the English language is peppered with French words, some obvious (Suave, Résumé, Coup d’état, déjà vu…), others less (Battalion, troop, legume, Antelope…). Moreover, French and English share a good deal of words of various origins. These are called “cognates”.

See for yourself what you understand from this dialogue made out of cognates:

Le vampire et le taxi

Le vampire:  Excusez-moi, l’adresse du sanatorium macabre, s’il vous plaît?

Le taxi:  Le sanatorium a été démoli, monsieur. Infrastructure infernale, corruption inexcusable, sabotage viral… c’est fini.

Le vampire: Ah! Fiasco! Oh! Surcharge d’émotions. Surplus de frustration. Mon sternum… est inconsolable.

Le taxi: Thorax ok?

Le vampire: Thorax turbulent.

Le taxi: Hôpital?

Le vampire: Non… Heu, oui! Hôpital: transfusions : miam miam!

Le taxi: À votre service. Voilà. Hôpital Du Bon Samaritain.

Le vampire: Parfait! Vous avez la monnaie?

Le taxi: Non, c’est gratuit.

Le vampire: Merci bien!


So, what did you make of it? I would love to read your take on it.


© Ouicestca 2012, tous droits réservés.

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  • The vampire first wanted to go to a “sanatorium macabre.” I was thinking hospital until I saw the other cognate for hospital. Emergency room? Morgue? A sanitary place that is gruesome, or damaged. :-)

    Really enjoyed this exercise. I do think I was able to follow most of the story.

    • Wofats, you were right, Sanatorium is indeed a kind of hospital. It is (was) a place where people got long-term treatment, but few of them remain today.
      Glad you enjoyed the exercise!

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