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Thread: Missing words in English

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    Post Missing words in English



    EDIT : new updates now in the html version.

    No language is perfect, and English is no exception (although, IMO, it is the best "on the market"). There are always words or expressions that cannot be rendered from one language to another. English supposedly has the largest vocabulary of any languages in the world (7x more words than French !), and well educated people typically know less than 10% of them.

    There would be too many English words and nuances that do not exist in other languages (thousands in French and Japanese), but much less the other way round.

    This thread gives everyone the opportunity to list all the words in their language, or another language they know well for which no adequate English translation exist. Maybe Japanese words should be the object of a separate thread...

    Here are a few French words.

    Words with no specific English translation keeping the same nuance or connotation

    - bouffer : to eat, but normally used for animals or in a very informal (and rather impolite) way for humans. This word exists in German ("fressen") and in Japanese (食う "kuu").

    - patte : foot or leg of an animal (not claw). Used very informally or impolitely for humans.

    - gueule : mouth of an animal. It can also be used very informally or impolitely for humans, in which case the American words "gob" or "yap" could be used. It can also mean "face" with the same animal connotation. In that case the word "mug" exist in English.

    - arête : "fishbone" (no unique word for that in English)

    - tartine : "slice of bread" (no single word for that in English).
    - tartiner : to spread butter, jam, honey, cheese, etc. on a slice of bread
    - tartinière/planche à tartiner : board to spread butter/jam on one's slice of bread.
    - fromage à tartiner : soft cheese to spread on a slice of bread.

    - cassonade : a kind of brown sugar that comes in light brown ("blond") and dark brown ("brown") version.

    - superficie : translates as "acreage" (but not just in acres), "(land) area" (of a building, room or field). No unique term for that in English.

    - chaîne (hi-fi/stereo) : a hi-fi system, but not necessarily "hi-fi". A set, which typically includes an amplifier, a radio, CD, MD, and formerly also tapes and disk player. The componants aren't important as long as there is an amplifier, loudspeakers, with something else and it is a set.

    - jante : "rim of a (car) wheel".
    - dejanter : verb meaning that the tyre is getting out of the rim of the wheel (used mostly in car racing).

    - caricature : in the meaning of "satirical cartoon". A regular cartoon (or animation) is a dessin animé in French.

    - souriant : smiling/smiley, but not used in English in a sentence like "the staff should be more smiling" (le personnel devrait être plus souriant).

    - écœurant : the nearest translation is nauseating, but it is not necessarily used for food that makes one want to vomit. It is more common for food that is too sweet or too rich (e.g. in butter). Eating too much cake or chocolate can be écœurant.

    Several words in French with only one common translation in English (lost nuance) :

    - cheveux, poil, pelage : all translates as "hair". cheveux is only used for the hair on a human head. Body hair are called poils. Most mammals have a pelage, but individuals hairs are also called poil(s).

    - bille, boule, balle, ballon, bal : there are only two words for this in English, "ball" and "balloon". In French, a ballon is a "balloon" or a "ball" with air inside. A balle is a ball with air inside, usually used for sports/games like ping-pong, tennis, football, volleyball, etc. A boule is not hollow, like the ball of bowling, billiard/snooker, or even a snowball, hairball, fireball, etc. A bille is like a boule, but smaller, like marbles, mercury balls, or balls used in ball-bearing mechanisms. Bal is the word for a "dancing ball" (party).

    - fenêtre, carreau, vitre, vitrine, vitrail : there are only two words in English for this, "window" and "pane". A fenêtre is a window with the frame and glass. A carreau is just one pane, especially when the window is divided in many panes like in a "stained glass window" (vitrail, in French). A vitre is a pane, usually when there is only one for the whole window. A vitrine is a large window pane, usually in shops to display the products.

    - mur, muraille, cloison, paroi : all translate as "wall". The difference is that a mur is made of masonry (brick, stone or concrete blocks), while a cloison is hollow and just made of panels and plaster. A paroi is also an "inner wall" usually made of wooden panels, but the word is also used for the outer walls of a wooden fortification (e.g. Roman fort). A muraille is a defensive wall, normally made of masonry, like medieval city walls or even the Great Wall of China.

    - tuile, carrelage : both translate as "tile". Tuile means "roofing tile", while carrelage refers to flooring tiles.

    - bricolage : do-it-yourself
    - bricoler : verb meaning to "fiddle", "putter" or "tinker", used for do-it-yourself home repair, amateur carpentery, plumbing, electricity, mounting furniture bought in detached pieces, etc.
    - bricoleur : person doing bricolage ("handyman").

    - batterie, pile (バッテリ vs 電池 in Japanese) : both translate as "battery" in English. The first one is typically rechargeable (e.g. for mobile phones, camcorders, car engines...), while the 2nd one is usually discardable, low voltage (1.5 to 9 volts) and not product specific (can be used for all can of electronic appliances).

    - station, gare : both translate as "station" in English. The former is used only for metro/subway/underground, while the latter is for trains or buses.

    - boucherie, charcuterie : both translate as butcher's shop, although the former specialises in meat, and the latter in cooked meats (sausages, pâté, etc.)

    - gel, gelée, givre : all mean "frost". Gelée and gel are used in meteorology (tempetures below freezing), while givre is the forst formation on (car) windows or ice crystals.
    - glace, glaçon, glaciaire, glacé, glacier, glacial, verglas : all translate as "ice", either as noun or adjective. Glace is the most general term. A glaçon is an ice cube (e.g. for drinks). Verglas is ice on roads after a wet night in freezing temperature. A glacier is either a "glacier" (in geology) or an "ice-cream maker" (the person or company). Glaciaire is the noun for a "machine to make ice-cream" or the adjective referring to the "ice age" (période glaciaire), "ice cap" (calotte galciaire). Glacial can be used like the English word "glacial", or to mean "icily" or "freezing cold". Glacé means "frozen" or "ice" like in "ice-cream" (crème glacée).

    - coupe, tasse : Coupe means "cup" but only in the meaning of trophy (e.g. Coupe du Monde => World Cup). A cup to drink is a tasse in French (the English word "mug" has also become common recently for mugs, which used to be called "tasse" as well).

    - gourmand, gourmandise : "gourmand" in English as well. However, there is no noun for gourmandise ("greed" is avidité in French).

    - doux, mou : both translate as "soft" in English, although their meaning is very different. Doux is the opposite of "rough" or "coarse" (rugueux), while mou is the opposite of "hard". Doux can also mean sweet, but almost only for wines (otherwise sucré is used).

    - lavette, torchon, chiffon, serpillière, vêtement(s) : all translate as "cloth" in English. The first two mean "dishcloth" (torchon can also mean floorcloth), the third is a rag (old cloth) or cloth for cleaning (housecloth), the fourth is a floorcloth, and the last are clothes to wear.

    - travail, travaux, oeuvre, ouvrage : all translate as "work"; "travail" is the general sense (working), "travaux" is usually used for "construction works", "oeuvre" means 'work of art', and "ouvrage" usually means "work" in the sense of dutiful, hard or bothersome work.
    - travailleur, ouvrier : "worker", the former in the general sense (someone who works), the latter in the sense of 'manual worker' (in a factory, in construction, etc.)

    - docteur, médecin : the former means "doctor" in the general sense (PhD), while the latter only means "medical doctor".

    - hibou, chouette : both are "owls" in English, but it isn't the same bird. [hiboux[/i] have external ears, while chouettes don't.

    Words with many specific translations in English but no general term with all the meanings

    - abonnement : means "subscription", "season ticket", "weekly/monthly/yearly ticket/subscription", etc. Very useful as it can be used for anything : magazines/newspaper/satellite TV subscriptions, public transport tickets, yearly cinema/theatre ticket/card, fitness subscriptions, (mobile) phone monthly fee, mailing list subscriptions, etc. People just say the have an "abonnement" without having to specify the length or type. It doesn't matter whether it's a ticket, a card, a pass, or none of these - that works.

    - devis : "estimate", "quotation", "tender" for a particular work (especially in construction and maintenance). There is no unique word with only that meaning in English.

    - chantier : construction site, workings, yard...

    - sportif : a person that does sport. The words "athlete" or "players" have similar meanings but can only be used for specific sports (e.g. you can't say a ski player, or a tennis athlete). There is no word in English that can be used to describe a person practising any sport or physical activity, from a runner to the climber, F1 driver, football player, swimmer, etc. So you can't ask in English "Are you a sportif", as this word doesn't exist. You can say "Do you do sports ?", but it doesn't mean the same. A sportif is someone who does a lot of sports or likes practising sports, not just anyone that does it. There is the word "sportsman", which is the nearest equivalent, but is not much used, and is not gender neutral.

    - stage, stagiaire : these words mean respectiely "internship" and "intern" (in US English), but also "training course", "vocational training (course)", "work placement", "work experience scheme", etc., and the person who does it (the stagiaire).

    - accueil : means "welcome", "reception", "home page" (of a website), "act of welcoming", or even "quality of welcome" (from a hotel, restaurant, club or company staff).

    - pique : "something with a pointed end", "something that *****s, pri.ckles or stings", "spades" (in playing cards), "barb"...

    - manquer : to lack, to miss, to default, to be short of, not be enough, to be insufficient, to run out of... No general term for all those meanings combined in English.

    Unique words in French with compound translations in English

    - piscine : swimming pool

    - patinoire : ice skating ring

    - vestiaire : locker room

    - aspirateur : vaccum cleaner
    - aspirer : "to use a vaccum cleaner" ("to suck dust")

    - patisserie : pastry shop

    - friterie : "chip shop" in BrE, but no particular word in AmE (not really the same as "hamburger stand")

    - cuisinière : cooking range

    - friteuse : deep fryer

    - levure : baking powder

    - purée : mashed potatoes

    - hotte : "exhaust hood" (for the kitchen). No unique word for that in English.

    - chaudière : "gas boiler" or "oil furnace"

    - télédistribution : "television broadcasting by cable"

    - électroménager : home electric appliances (家電 in Japanese), i.e. everything from audio-video to kitchen electric appliances to computers and mobile phones.

    - taie (d'oreiller) : pillow case

    - sommier : (slatted/spring) mattress/bed base

    - moquette : wall-to-wall carpet

    - bottin : phone book

    - minuscule/majuscule : small font/capital letter

    - saouler : to get drunk
    - saoulant : making one get drunk (or "tiring" in slang)

    - frime, frimer, frimeur : show-off (noun, verb, person noun)

    - borgne : one-eyed (person)

    - loupe : magnifying glass

    - cachalot : sperm whale

    - chevreuil : roe deer

    - détour : roundabout way

    - dorénavant : from now on, from then on, from this point forward (there is actually a one-word translation in English, but hardly ever used nowdays : "henceforth" or "henceforward")

    - brelan : three of a kind (in poker)
    - carré : four of a kind (in poker)

    - mélomane : music lover

    Rarer words with no single-word English translation :

    - grimoire : "book of magic spells", but also used to described any obscure writing.

    - armoiries, blason, emblème, écu : The armoiries refer to the full "coat of arms" of a person or family, while the blason or écu is only the central part of the arms (in the shape of a shield) without the motto and decoration around.

    - malencontreux : advjective including the meaning of "ill-timed", "untimely", "inopportune" and "unfortunate".

    - loisible : adjective meaning "to have the liberty to do something". Includes the meaning of permission and doing it at one's leisure or discretion.
    Last edited by Maciamo; 01-01-07 at 14:31.

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    jante - rim of a car wheel...

    in english,that does have a one word translation... its called a bead.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kjizzle View Post
    jante - rim of a car wheel...
    in english,that does have a one word translation... its called a bead.
    Thanks. I didn't know that word. Is there a translation for "déjanter" (verb) or "déjantage" (noun) ? It means that the tyre gets out of the bead because of too low tyre pressure. It's mostly a technical/racing term. Can you say "unbeading" ?

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    All english will do is just lure the better words up dark alleys and mug them.
    If some of those words started being used in everyday english usage then they become anglified and a "new" word comes into use. All it takes is for a group, usually the youth, to start using them and soon the OED decides on whetherenough people recognise the word and it comes into common english use.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mycernius View Post
    If some of those words started being used in everyday english usage then they become anglified and a "new" word comes into use. All it takes is for a group, usually the youth, to start using them and soon the OED decides on whetherenough people recognise the word and it comes into common english use.
    If the condition for a word to be in the Oxford English Dictionary is that enough people be able to recognise it, I wonder how 90% of the 300,000 entries ever got there.

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    I was intrigued by your list and thought I'd give a try at a few. My French is minimal, though, so I'll look to you to see if I'm close on any of these.

    bouffer : "to wolf"?

    - gueule : "maw"? ("gob" is British, not American in this sense)

    - arête : "fishbone" (no unique word for that in English)
    ?? what's wrong with "fishbone"?

    - chaîne (hi-fi/stereo) : "stereo system"?

    - doux, mou : "smooth" & "soft"

    - travail, travaux, oeuvre, ouvrage : "job," "construction," "piece," "labor"?

    - travailleur, ouvrier : probably "employee" and "worker," as "worker" in English generally carries the connotation of physical or manual work

    - docteur, médecin : "MD" is now common for the latter, but is informal.

    Words with many specific translations in English but no general term with all the meanings

    - abonnement : means "subscription", "season ticket", "weekly/monthly/yearly ticket/subscription", etc. Very useful as it can be used for anything : magazines/newspaper/satellite TV subscriptions, public transport tickets, yearly cinema/theatre ticket/card, fitness subscriptions, (mobile) phone monthly fee, mailing list subscriptions, etc. People just say the have an "abonnement" without having to specify the length or type. It doesn't matter whether it's a ticket, a card, a pass, or none of these - that works.

    - sportif : "jock"

    - piscine : "pool" has the default meaning of "swimming pool."

    - électroménager : "appliances" is fine

    - frime, frimer, frimeur : "poseur"?

    - détour : not "detour"?

    - grimoire : also an English word!

    - malencontreux : "hapless"?

    - loisible : "optional"?

    & what about "alunir"?

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    Cool We have those too.

    Though I know that there are some words that may not have a direct translastion into English, I believe that many of the ones listed do have an actual translation, though not necessarily used often.

    gueule - maw is the translation that comes to mind for me on this one. Not really a polite term if used in reference to a person's mouth.
    gibier - venison is the term that I think of here; usually refers to a large game animal's meat, such as a deer, moose, etc.
    cassonade - we just call this light brown sugar or dark brown sugar
    caricature - this term is present in the English language, though most Americans only think of cartoon portraits of people as a caricature, not necessarily a satirical cartoon.
    chaîne - I think this is generally just called a stereo in English, as the term hi-fi went out of popular use back in the 80s.
    téléspectateur - télé = TV; spectateur = spectator/viewer; same thing, but in English the two words are separated instead of combined. Not really a difference here, there are many words that are single words in other languages that are just split in English, especially in German, where one word prior to WWII could be the equivalent of five or more English words.
    journal televisé - Actually, many Americans use the term "news" to refer to both the television program and the reported content of the program.
    lunettes - The English translation for this I believe would be lens(es), I don't believe that I have ever heard the term "replace the glasses of the glasses", but I have heard "replace the lenses of the glasses".
    dejanter - I don't think we have one specific word such as "unbeading", I usually hear it referred to as a broken bead.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    If the condition for a word to be in the Oxford English Dictionary is that enough people be able to recognise it, I wonder how 90% of the 300,000 entries ever got there.
    We are an incredibly literate race, Mac!

    :hat:


    W

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    Quote Originally Posted by giordanob View Post
    I was intrigued by your list and thought I'd give a try at a few. My French is minimal, though, so I'll look to you to see if I'm close on any of these.
    bouffer : "to wolf"?
    - gueule : "maw"? ("gob" is British, not American in this sense)
    That's possible. I didn't know these words.

    - arête : "fishbone" (no unique word for that in English)
    ?? what's wrong with "fishbone"?
    Fishbone could be literally "os de poisson" in French. However it sounds very childish.

    - chaîne (hi-fi/stereo) : "stereo system"?
    What if it is mono (rare nowadays, granted) or better than stereo (e.g. dolby surround) ? You have to adapt the English word, as "system" alone is too vague. In French you can just buy a new chaîne, whatever it is.

    - doux, mou : "smooth" & "soft"
    Smooth is lisse in French. Feather or fur are doux but not lisse nor mou. Plastic or glass is usually lisse. But a sponge is molle (feminine of mou, as sponge is feminine in French).

    - travail, travaux, oeuvre, ouvrage : "job," "construction," "piece," "labor"?
    - Travail = job, work
    - Travaux = works (construction, academic, literary, artistic...)
    - oeuvre = artistic piece of work (not just "piece"), but also charitable work (as in bonnes ouvres)
    - ouvrage = literary work, book

    Actually I forgot the word labeur, which can means labour or toil.

    - travailleur, ouvrier : probably "employee" and "worker," as "worker" in English generally carries the connotation of physical or manual work
    Employee is employé in French. Travailleur is the general term for worker, but ouvrier only means manual worker (blue collar).

    - docteur, médecin : "MD" is now common for the latter, but is informal.
    MD is the abbreviation for "Medical Doctor" (well, actually for the Latin medicinae doctor), which confirms that there is no one-word term like médecin in English (apart for the American English "physician", which I don't really like).

    - sportif : "jock"
    Never heard it used in that sense before. It can also be the abbreviation of jockey, or mean pilot, among others. Sportif is an everyday term in French.

    - piscine : "pool" has the default meaning of "swimming pool."
    Alright, but if you have a pond/lake near your house, you could adverise it as "with pool".

    - électroménager : "appliances" is fine
    Do you call shops that sell only household appliances "appliances shops" ? If not, what would be the equivalent of magasin d'électroménager ?

    - frime, frimer, frimeur : "poseur"?
    In French, a poseur is someone who "poses" for pictures. You would never use that to describe someone driving a Ferrari with sunglasses and trying to be seen by everyone (especially the girls). That's a kind of frimeur in French.

    - détour : not "detour"?
    - grimoire : also an English word!
    I didn't know that these 2 French words were also used in English !

    - malencontreux : "hapless"?
    Close enough. Alright.

    - loisible : "optional"?
    Optional is "optionel". Loisible really means that someone has the liberty to do something if they wish to or whener they wish to. It's quite formal, and usually used by staff to be polite with good customers.

    & what about "alunir"?
    That's true. There doesn't seem to be the verb "to moon" (instead of "to land") in English yet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by embuhrow View Post
    gibier - venison is the term that I think of here; usually refers to a large game animal's meat, such as a deer, moose, etc.
    Gibier is not just for deer, but also pheasant, (wild) rabbit/hare, wild boar, etc.
    cassonade - we just call this light brown sugar or dark brown sugar
    That's what people always say, but cassonade is not the same as brown sugar. The same brand of sugar have different packages here, and both look and taste very different. Brown sugar tastes almost like white sugar. Cassonade does not. It is not crystaline but sandy.
    Maybe it is typically Belgian. I read online that cassonade was invented by the Sugar refinery of Tienen. Actually, French people usually don't know what is cassonade.
    téléspectateur - télé = TV; spectateur = spectator/viewer; same thing, but in English the two words are separated instead of combined. Not really a difference here, there are many words that are single words in other languages that are just split in English, especially in German, where one word prior to WWII could be the equivalent of five or more English words.
    Do you really use "TV spectator" to mean people watching TV ? For example, do TV presenters say "Dear TV spectators" when adressing you and other people watching the programme ?
    lunettes - The English translation for this I believe would be lens(es), I don't believe that I have ever heard the term "replace the glasses of the glasses", but I have heard "replace the lenses of the glasses".
    Lens in French is lentille, as in "contact lenses" (lentilles de contact), but also for a microscope or telescope's lens.
    dejanter - I don't think we have one specific word such as "unbeading", I usually hear it referred to as a broken bead.
    A broken bead is quite different from "unbeading". Dejanter means that the rubber tyre is coming out of its metalic support (the bead). It happens when you are driving with a flat tyre, or in car racing when the tyre pressure is too low. In either case the bead itself is fine.

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    Merci for the response, Maciamo! Here are a few more thoughts on these tricky words!

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    What if it is mono (rare nowadays, granted) or better than stereo (e.g. dolby surround) ? You have to adapt the English word, as "system" alone is too vague. In French you can just buy a new chaîne, whatever it is.
    I guess "sound system" is the right translation. You could have a sound system in a theatre or in a home, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Smooth is lisse in French. Feather or fur are doux but not lisse nor mou. Plastic or glass is usually lisse. But a sponge is molle (feminine of mou, as sponge is feminine in French).
    feathers or fur = soft
    glass, plastic = smooth
    sponge = spongy!

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    - Travail = job, work
    - Travaux = works (construction, academic, literary, artistic...)
    - oeuvre = artistic piece of work (not just "piece"), but also charitable work (as in bonnes ouvres)
    - ouvrage = literary work, book

    Actually I forgot the word labeur, which can means labour or toil.
    "Piece" does have the sense of oeuvre in the appropriate context: "Did you see the Warhol piece at the Whitney Museum? Did you read Smith's latest piece in the New York Times? I'll be playing two pieces by Beethoven at my recital tonight!"

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    MD is the abbreviation for "Medical Doctor" (well, actually for the Latin medicinae doctor), which confirms that there is no one-word term like médecin in English (apart for the American English "physician", which I don't really like).
    Yes, but it also now very common as a word in itself: "EM-dee." Example:
    "John is an MD at the hospital downtown."


    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Never heard it used in that sense before. It can also be the abbreviation of jockey, or mean pilot, among others. Sportif is an everyday term in French.
    "Jock" is extremely common USA usage.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Alright, but if you have a pond/lake near your house, you could advertise it as "with pool".
    Actually, that usage is pretty rare & has an archaic feel. I know you were joking.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Do you call shops that sell only household appliances "appliances shops" ? If not, what would be the equivalent of magasin d'électroménager ?
    I think "appliance shop" is UK usage. We'd say "appliance mart" in the USA: go to tinyurl 4y4l5l

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    In French, a poseur is someone who "poses" for pictures. You would never use that to describe someone driving a Ferrari with sunglasses and trying to be seen by everyone (especially the girls). That's a kind of frimeur in French.
    "Poseur" has a slightly different connotation in USA usage: a pretentious person who flaunts an elevated taste in culture and art and likes to be seen at fashionable events. Could the simpler "showoff" work for your frimeur?

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Optional is "optionel". Loisible really means that someone has the liberty to do something if they wish to or whener they wish to. It's quite formal, and usually used by staff to be polite with good customers.
    What are some examples? We would say "the sunroof is optional with this model [car]."

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    That's true. There doesn't seem to be the verb "to moon" (instead of "to land") in English yet.
    It's my favorite French word. Did you know that "to moon" means "to expose your buttocks [to somone] in USA English?!

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    Quote Originally Posted by giordanob View Post
    Merci for the response, Maciamo! Here are a few more thoughts on these tricky words!
    I guess "sound system" is the right translation. You could have a sound system in a theatre or in a home, etc.
    There is the word sonorisation in French for "sound system". This is more general than chaîne though. As you said, it can be used for a theatre, or also for a nightclub. You don't go to an electronic shop and ask to buy a "sound system" when you just want a small combo with CD, radio and two speakers.

    feathers or fur = soft
    glass, plastic = smooth
    sponge = spongy!
    "Spongy" is not the equivalent of "mou" and "soft" isn't the same as "doux" either. Let me give you other examples.

    These are all referred to as "mou (or molle)" in French : quilts, warm butter (not liquid, but not straight out of the fridge), gelatin, body fat (as opposed to bones or hard muscles), an inflatable balloon, a sponge, a slug, etc. Basically anything into which your finger can "sink" if you push on it. It has a neutral or negative connotation. It is rarely a good thing (except maybe for a pillow, mattress or sofa if you don't like a hard one).

    Doux (or douce), on the other hand, means that something is gentle and comfortable to the touch. The first thing that springs to mind to most French speaker is fur. A cat is doux. But the sheets on your quilts can also be doux to the touch (opposite of "rough"), which isn't the same as mou (opposite of "hard"). Doux almost always carries a positive connotation.

    A toy balloon filled with air or water will be mou and lisse. But the flannel quilts on a bed are mous and doux. In English, you can only say that the former is "soft" and "smooth", and the latter is "soft" and "soft".

    "Piece" does have the sense of oeuvre in the appropriate context: "Did you see the Warhol piece at the Whitney Museum? Did you read Smith's latest piece in the New York Times? I'll be playing two pieces by Beethoven at my recital tonight!"
    ...
    Yes, but it also now very common as a word in itself: "EM-dee." Example:
    "John is an MD at the hospital downtown."
    Alright, there are words for it, but both are shortenings or acronyms of multiple-word expressions ("piece" for "piece of work" and "MD" for "medical doctor").

    "Jock" is extremely common USA usage.
    That's weird. I watch a lot of American movies and series, often meet American people, and I have never heard it once. I have never seen it written online either before (and I have written on many forums).

    "Poseur" has a slightly different connotation in USA usage: a pretentious person who flaunts an elevated taste in culture and art and likes to be seen at fashionable events. Could the simpler "showoff" work for your frimeur?
    Showoff is indeed the closest translation.

    What are some examples? We would say "the sunroof is optional with this model [car]."
    Sorry, but nobody would say "loisible" in this case. The French equivalent is optionel. Loisible cannot be used for things. It is used only to mean that someone (not something) has the choice to do something later if and whenever (both are important) they wish to. If there is "deadline" for the choice, you cannot use loisible.

    It's my favorite French word. Did you know that "to moon" means "to expose your buttocks [to somone] in USA English?!
    No, I didn't know this slang term.

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    Question French in English

    Wikipedia writes " between one third and two thirds of all English words have a French origin". As it appears that English has 7 times more words than French, this would imply that there are between 2.1 and 4.2 times more words of French origin in English than there are words at all in in the French language. For the non-specialist this could seem somehow baffling.
    A tentative explanation: bearing in mind that most of the French was brought to English by the Norman conquest, it could mean that theses valiant invaders had at their disposal a vocabulary several time larger than contemporary Francophones.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michel MARION View Post
    Wikipedia writes " between one third and two thirds of all English words have a French origin". As it appears that English has 7 times more words than French, this would imply that there are between 2.1 and 4.2 times more words of French origin in English than there are words at all in in the French language. For the non-specialist this could seem somehow baffling.
    A tentative explanation: bearing in mind that most of the French was brought to English by the Norman conquest, it could mean that theses valiant invaders had at their disposal a vocabulary several time larger than contemporary Francophones.
    I think that what was meant on Wikipedia was that 1/3 to 2/3 of the commonly used vocabulary came from French. In the total vocabulary existing in English over half are technical and scientific terms, including plant and animal names (many in Latin).

    Nevertheless I noticed that many English words from old French or Latin have no equivalent in modern French. Some are extremely common, like "convenient" or "confusing". Add to this that English is much more flexible than French, meaning that most words can be used as nouns, verbs and adjective in English, but not in French. I suppose they would count as 3 words instead of one if their function is different. This also explains why English has a bigger vocabulary than French, even counting only words that come from French !

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    Actually, we've got lots and lots...

    Hi a few additions of English words...

    patte: well we have foot, leg (technically only the lower part), limb, forelimb (for animals), paw, claw, even pereiopod and pleiopod (for crustaceans), fin (for fish), appendage, flipper (sea mammals), wing (birds), member, shank (human and animal, used to be whole leg, but now just lower part), tentacle (marine), drumstick (cut of leg meat), calf (back of lower limb in humans), gam (about the same as calf). There may be analogous words in French for most of these, but we have plenty of words.

    Gruele: besides mouth and maw, there is muzzle and snout (these include the animals' jaws and nose though), jaws is ok too, beak (bird), there is orifice too but that would be any opening, also chops (colloquial use, mostly for humans).

    fromage à tartiner: cheese spread, we also have Velveeta a brand of spreadable cheese (tastes awful)

    cassonade: I think turbinado (US) and demerara (UK) are the same thing

    écœurant: cloying and cloyingly (adverb), probably could be used as a verb "to cloy" this only refers to too sweet things though, you'd use surfeit (def: a disgust with excess; nausea) for fatty foods, or too much of something in general.

    coupe, tasse: we have cup, glass, mug, tumbler, goblet, stein, you could also use vessel, chalice, beaker, demitasse (from French), teacup, cannikin (rare), snifter, jigger (shotglass)

    cheveux, poil, pelage: hair, vellus (fine human body hair, can also be called vellus hair), lanugo (thicker than vellus, hair on anorexics), terminal hair (longer body hair, head hair), pubes (human pubic hair), tresses (head hair), bristle (short *****ly hair, animal/human), whisker, fur, pelt, coat (fur/pelt of animal), undercoat (type of fur), vibrissa (like a cat whisker), down (like vellus, but can also be animal), fuzz (soft hair), wool (fur of sheep)

    station, gare: station, terminal, also depot

    boucherie, charcuterie: butcher, deli (delicatessen), meatmarket

    aspirateur- aspirer : vacuum and to vacuum work fine

    levure: baking powder, baking soda, leavening

    sommier: what's wrong with frame? we also say slats, bedframe, boxspring, bedstead

    loupe : magnifying glass, we also use loupe in English, but it refers to a jeweler's loupe, a specific kind of magnifying glass

    moquette : wall-to-wall carpet, I just use carpet or carpeting, if it isn't wall-to-wall, then it is a rug or a throw.

    gibier: venison, I'd use game for rabbit meat.

    piscine: pool works fine, I wouldn't use pool to describe a pond or lake nowadays(except poetically) also natatorium and plunge could be used.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tourbillion View Post
    Hi a few additions of English words...
    Thanks for trying. I don't want to sound condescending, but people who don't have a good command of both French and English usually won't be able to give serious feedback on this topic. There are a few good suggestions though.

    My point is not that French has more words (English in fact has 7x more words than French !), but there are always a few words that carry a cultural value and that cannot be translated, no matter how rich a language is. I have been thinking about this topic for a few years now, and I haven't come up with more words than those in this list. If I had to make a list the other way round (English words missing in French), there would be at least 10x more entries. Actually I started, but I don't have the energy to continue.

    patte: well we have foot, leg (technically only the lower part), limb, forelimb (for animals), paw, claw, even pereiopod and pleiopod (for crustaceans), fin (for fish), appendage, flipper (sea mammals), wing (birds), member, shank (human and animal, used to be whole leg, but now just lower part), tentacle (marine), drumstick (cut of leg meat), calf (back of lower limb in humans), gam (about the same as calf). There may be analogous words in French for most of these, but we have plenty of words.
    Here is the French translation for these words :

    foot => pied
    leg => jambe
    claw => serre, pince, griffe
    pereiopod => pereiopode
    pleiopod => pleiopode
    limb, member => membre
    appendage => appendice
    fin => aileron
    flipper => nageoire
    wing => aile
    shank => jarret
    drumstick => pilon
    calf => mollet
    tentacle => tentacule

    Paw is probably the closest translation of "patte".

    Gruele: besides mouth and maw, there is muzzle and snout (these include the animals' jaws and nose though), jaws is ok too, beak (bird), there is orifice too but that would be any opening, also chops (colloquial use, mostly for humans).
    maw => trappe
    snout => groin
    muzzle => museau
    jaws => machoires
    beak => bec
    orifice => orifice
    chops => babines

    None of these is really the same as "geule". The closest would be "maw".

    fromage a tartiner: cheese spread, we also have Velveeta a brand of spreadable cheese (tastes awful)
    fromage a tartiner was just an example of the use of the verb "tartiner", which doesn't exist in English (literally to spread jam/butter/cheese/whatever on a slice of bread - tartine being a slice of bread in French).

    cassonade: I think turbinado (US) and demerara (UK) are the same thing
    I checked these two on Google, but they are just brown (cane) sugar. They are a sort of crystallised sugar, while cassonade is not (it is sandy in apperance, not shiny)

    ecœurant: cloying and cloyingly (adverb), probably could be used as a verb "to cloy" this only refers to too sweet things though, you'd use surfeit (def: a disgust with excess; nausea) for fatty foods, or too much of something in general.[/quote]

    Ok, granted, "cloying" is a good translation for "ecœurant". I had never heard it before though. Ecœurant is used quite a lot in French.

    coupe, tasse: we have cup, glass, mug, tumbler, goblet, stein, you could also use vessel, chalice, beaker, demitasse (from French), teacup, cannikin (rare), snifter, jigger (shotglass)
    The point is that "cup" has two completely different meanings in English. A cup of tea/coffee is a "tasse" in French, but the world cup of football would be a "coupe". As for your other receptacles :

    glass => verre
    mug => grande tasse (ok there is no French equivalent, so "mug" can be used in French too)
    tumbler => verre droit
    goblet => gobelet, coupe
    stein => chope
    chalice => calice
    beaker => gobelet
    demitasse => demi-tasse
    teacup => well that's really just "tea cup"
    cannikin => that's the old word for "can" from Dutch kanneken.
    snifter => (verre) ballon
    jigger => doseur

    cheveux, poil, pelage: hair, vellus (fine human body hair, can also be called vellus hair), lanugo (thicker than vellus, hair on anorexics), terminal hair (longer body hair, head hair), pubes (human pubic hair), tresses (head hair), bristle (short *****ly hair, animal/human), whisker, fur, pelt, coat (fur/pelt of animal), undercoat (type of fur), vibrissa (like a cat whisker), down (like vellus, but can also be animal), fuzz (soft hair), wool (fur of sheep)
    vellus => vellus (that's normally an adjective)
    lanugo => lanugo
    terminal hair => cheveux terminaux (?)
    pubes/pubic hair => poils pubiens

    The point is that English does not distinguish between the hair on one's head (always cheveux in French) and body hair (always poils in French). You must specify that it is head hair or body hair. In French you just absolutely cannot use cheveux for body hair or poils for head hair. For any native French speaker these are two completely separate words, just like blue and green are separate colours (well not in traditional Japanese or Chinese, just like English only has one word for "hair").

    station, gare: station, terminal, also depot
    These are 3 different things. Exactly the same words in French. But ask a French speaker "où est la station ?" and he/she will point you to a metro station, never to a train station. Same as for "hair", English only has one word for 2 different things. In French a "gare" is always for trains and never for the metro, and a "station" is always for the metro and never for trains. Likewise you cannot use the word "train" for the metro in French. You must say "rampe" or just "metro". If you use the word train, French speakers will think it is not underground.


    boucherie, charcuterie: butcher, deli (delicatessen), meatmarket
    A deli sells all sorts of foods, not just meat. A meatmarket is a market, not a shop/store.

    A boucherie only sells normal meat. A charcuterie only sells cooked meats (sausages, salami, black pudding, pâté, etc.). As they usually sell both the sign will show "boucherie-charcuterie".

    It is the same principle with boulangerie (bakery) and patisserie (pastry shop).

    In Japan, for example, they have boucheries, but usually not charcuteries. When I lived there I had a hard time to explain the difference using English or Japanese language, as neither language has the same nuance has in French.

    aspirateur- aspirer : vacuum and to vacuum work fine
    Yeah, ok. But technically it is a "vaccum cleaner", not just a "vaccum" (which means "emptiness").

    sommier: what's wrong with frame? we also say slats, bedframe, boxspring, bedstead
    Ok, that could work. But in English the name varies a lot depending on the country or the type of bed (with springs or slats).

    moquette : wall-to-wall carpet, I just use carpet or carpeting, if it isn't wall-to-wall, then it is a rug or a throw.
    I use carpet when I think of Oriental carpets, and rugs for simpler ones. To say the French "inutile de mettre un tapis d'Orient sur de la moquette", it translates as "no need to put a Orinetal carpet on a wall-to-wall carpet".

    piscine: pool works fine, I wouldn't use pool to describe a pond or lake nowadays(except poetically) also natatorium and plunge could be used.
    Fair enough. But then why not always use "pool" instead of "swimming pool" if it was always clear ? Either it's redundant or it's not.
    Last edited by Maciamo; 24-01-09 at 21:11.

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    Hm, as for maw=trappe, we also have "trap" as in "shut your trap."

    Also, as for deli, I went to the supermarket today. The deli section just sells cooked meat and sliced cheese, the butcher section, just regular meats, I am not really seeing how they are that different from French to English. It used to be that they were all separate shops here before the advent of supermarkets. The main difference is that we also have sandwich shops that are called delis/delicatessens. What are they called in French?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tourbillion View Post
    Also, as for deli, I went to the supermarket today. The deli section just sells cooked meat and sliced cheese, the butcher section, just regular meats, I am not really seeing how they are that different from French to English. It used to be that they were all separate shops here before the advent of supermarkets. The main difference is that we also have sandwich shops that are called delis/delicatessens. What are they called in French?
    The word deli in English has a much broader sense. It can be used for a place that sells bread, pastries, sandwiches, cooked meat, or any fine foods in general. The only place where you will find all these things together here are in fine foods shops or supermarkets. Normally in French-speaking Europe (Quebec is more like the rest of North America), a butcher only sells meat, a baker only bread/pastries, and a sandwich shop (called "snack-bar" in Belgium) only sandwiches.

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