Wednesday, July 3, 2013

French WTF or Linguistic Philosophy

French and English share an amazing number of false friends, i.e. words that you think you know what they mean because of their similarity with your native language but provide complete surprises.  I have had recently four encounters with words that were extremely misleading to the eye.  They include:

a.      Une radiation
b.      Un event
c.       Un acte de rectification
d.      Une autonomie limitée en temps

Put them together, you might think of a nuclear accident that needs to be fixed by quick government action.

Alas, nothing is farther from the truth. Radiation in this case means being removed from a list, such a Register of Commerce.  The event refers to an air vent for an electrical device.  An acte of rectification is a death certificate. Finally, most laptop users suffer from this autonomie, i.e limited battery life.

To clarify, my reaction to discovering these meanings was WTF or what in the hell is the connection? Looking on the bright side, life would be so boring without these linguistic puzzles.

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