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Watch your mouth

Faux ami

There are many hurdles to overcome when you are learning a new language, but being wary of ‘Franglish’ faux amis – particularly the sexual ones – should be at the top of your agenda if you want to avoid a (very) red face. From dates to dinner parties and even a trip to the shops, sometimes even the most innocent of exchanges can end up very differently if you don’t watch what you say. Before we get into my top six of inappropriate words and phrases to avoid, I thought I’d give a warning that these errors are not child’s play…

A faux ami is a pair of words or phrases that look or sound the same in two different languages. I’ll start off with an easy one… ‘Je suis excitée’ looks and sounds just like ‘I’m excited’, but trust me, you’re not saying that you’re looking forward to something. You are, in fact, telling your conversation partner how aroused and horny you are – a bit brash even for the straight talking French!

From verbs to nouns, faux amis infiltrate every subject in French-English exchange. Whether you are debating health and organic foods, introducing friends, commenting on the weather, or even sending off some post, you can trust on the fact that somewhere in the conversation you will say something at least a little inappropriate…


Top words and phrases to avoid

• “Je suis chaude”: To an amateur French speaker, this phrases sounds like the obvious way to say that you are warm, but experience tells me (and now you) that if it sounds too easy, it probably is. ‘Je suis chaud/e’ actually means you’re feeling horny. To correctly say that you are warm or hot, the phrase is ‘J’ai chaud/e’.

• “Baisser” v. “baiser”: I’m really going to lower the tone here… ‘Baisser’ means to reduce, lower or drop while ‘baiser’ means quite simply ‘to fuck someone’ (there’s no getting around the crassness here – that is honestly a dictionary translation). It also means to kiss – go figure that out!

• “Preservatifs”: If you are discussing healthy eating and organic produce over dinner, try to refrain from using the word ‘preservatives’ in French. The correct word in French would be ‘conservateur’ and using the p-word will only make you sound like you prefer your veg without a condom…

• “Cou” v. “cul”: You’ve had a successful date with your sexy French boyfriend or girlfriend and now you want to set the mood with a little massage. ‘Cou’ and ‘cul’ sound very similar, but the result will be completely different – are you heading for the neck area or someone’s ass checks?

• “Tampon”: OK, this does mean a tampon in some circumstances, but it also means ‘stamp’, as in a stamp to put on your letters.

• “S’introduire”: To round up our top words and phrases to watch out for, how about a little introduction? If you’re introducing friends, you (like me) probably won’t think twice about trying to say ‘I’d like to introduce you to…’. Before you go ahead, the verb ‘s’introduire’ actually means to insert or enter (someone in this case) and depending on the occasion, I’d say it likely isn’t the right turn of phrase to be using! Stay on the safe side with ‘se présenter’…

If you have any faux ami anecdotes to share, please do! I have blushed (and caused many other people to go red) during my years in France and it would be nice to hear about someone else doing it for a change!

About the author


Real Riviera Editorial

Real Riviera is an online luxury lifestyle magazine. We are inspired by luxury lifestyle of the French Riviera, but we see it from other, more real perspective. Our concept is to share positive news and real, inspiring success stories. We interview successful people, we encourage and seek individuals that have had exceptional challenges to overcome to provide motivation for others who are also on the path of success but sometimes need a bit of encouragement.

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