French Language – Strange Idioms and Culture Part 1

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Au-Moulin-de-la-Galette Pierre-Auguste-Renoir

Any language enthusiast knows that the best way to learn a language is to live in the source country and speak it, write it and interpret it like the natives. This is very true for French translation also, as you learn about the culture of France and other Francophone regions so knowing the language comes to you naturally and something you are never going to forget regardless of how often you speak it.


Let us examine one element of French that is key, if you want to speak like a true inhabitant: mastering the slang and idioms. These are lively words, expressions, and colourful verbal sentences that cannot be translated literally without losing the meaning of what we are saying. Just imagine a French speaker trying to make sense of English idioms as if “he has a screw loose” or “it’s a piece of cake” or “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”.

Yet, learning these is the secret to achieving true fluency, it is the difference between robotic “textbook” and “real-world” language usage and can make a huge difference to how we translate documents or even interpret for someone in another language. If you are not yet familiar with any French slang words or idiomatic expressions, prepare yourself and you may be surprised at how appealing – and fun – they can be to learn and to use. Best of all, learning about slang and idioms will add a new dimension to your language skills by making you a smooth and fluent translator.

A language’s idioms are the final synthesis of the entire cultural history of those who speak the language. It is a part of life that no longer exists, but lives through present day popular expressions and idioms. Today, France is a modern, industrialized nation, but this was not always the case. To get a feeling of modern France’s agricultural roots, listening to some French idioms is an integral part of the learning process.

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