Being located in an English speaking city that is also a popular tourist destination, you just have to walk through the streets of Dublin city centre to hear all sorts of “pidgin” English – that is various tourists and international students speaking to each other in a blend of English words with syntactic constructions based on other languages – given our proximity to mainland Europe, these are often based on Latin constructions. It’s not hard to see why this happens, as many translators consider English the most Latin of the Germanic languages, and according to the famous French linguist Henriette Walter, 60% of the English words come from French or Latin. However, even if the languages have common roots, they are definitely not the same and when a native English speaker has to translate something into French – and vice-versa – he cannot keep the meaning of the text with a word-by-word translation.
English syntax differs from Latin languages in many ways; and in this article we take a look at the differences between French and English to give some translation tips based on common mistakes between speakers of these two languages.
Differences between French and English:
|Present Participle||VS||When / As||
As he went off, he turned round to… En s'éloignant, il se retourna pour…
When he heard the news, he left. En attendant la nouvelle, il partit.
|Past participle||VS||Auxiliary + past participle||
Having arrived in Paris, he… Arrivé à Paris
|Negative form of the verb||VS||Noun||
I have no water : je n’ai pas d’eau
An excessive use of : un emploi immodéré de
The man (that) I saw : L'homme que j'ai vu
Common mistakes made by French people in English :
French people’s pronunciation of English can also sometimes lead to funny misunderstandings when, for instance they pronounce a short vowel instead of a long one such as “sheep” and “ship”, and “leave” and “live”. “Now” does not have the same pronunciation as “no” and “put” does not sound like “but”, still this is the case for most of the French people.
These are just a few common pronunciation mistakes that make French people easy to recognise!