You Know More French Than You Think

You Know More French Than You Think 2013-01-11T20:33:25-05:00

Adapted from an article in the September 2001 CPF Manitoba News.

You know more French than you think! That’s partly due to shuffling the cans and cereal boxes to find the English side, but it’s mainly because an estimated 75-80% of English words either come from French or share a Latin root with their French equivalents.

Thousands of cognates (words with similar roots) are shared by English and French, and innumerable words and expressions are borrowed directly from the French language, like “joie de vivre” and “haute couture.”

The hunt for word origins turns young French students into language detectives. For example, the connection between many food names is very close: porc/pork, boeuf/beef, jus/juice, vin/wine, banane/banana, diner/dinner.

Many French and English words are similar except for the endings: “ie” in French but “y” in English, or “eur” in French but “our” in English. Think of biologie and biology.

How many similar words do you know? We’re betting there are more than you think!