Beware ! The following words are used in French too, but with a different, sometimes very different, meaning:
- A drawing-room is not "une salle de dessin". It is a room where gentlemen withdraw (se retirent) to smoke without disturbing the ladies. It's often translated as "salon".
- "jeans" : in French you say "porter un jean / un blue-jean" ! in English jeans are any sort of trousers ; denim jeans only are what you call "un jean".
- when you say "low-cost" in French, you mean it won't be expensive. It's not wrong, but in English, it means the company saves as much as they can (like few staff-members, no free meals or drinks on board your plane etc.)
- millennials in USA does not refer to the young people born around the year 2000; millennials were born after 1980 and were +/- 20 round the Millenium. They're called "génération Y" in France. See one of their blogs : http://www.theconfusedmillennial.com/2016225whats-a-millennial/
- with "mini", native speakers of English immediately visualize a miniskirt (minijupe) or a very small computer (mini-ordinateur); for the French, it's a car ...
- moonshot is used in French ; it's a brand-name for un serveur informatique ; but in English, it's "le lancement d'une fusée vers la lune"; so "it's a moonshot" would be "décrocher la lune"
- politically correct has no suggestion that you don't say the truth ! Initially, the idea is that you use words that are in accordance with an official Code for describing communities in non-pejorative terms : for instance, saying African-American instead of "black" or Caucasian instead of "white". Of course, in America like in Europe excess in this kind of practice has led to identifying political correctness to hypocrisy.
- a "power couple" is un ménage au pouvoir, like the Clintons (some time ago); nothing to do with couple puissant or electric devices ...
-"un smoking" in French is a smart suit. Now this, in English, refers to a dinner jacket if you're British, or a tuxedo (= a tux) if you're American. Smoking just means "fumer".
-"un talk" is what English speakers call a talk-show (débat télévisé); a talk, in English, is "un parler, des paroles"
- the French "ticket de caisse" is a receipt. Never say ticket except if you mean un billet (de transports / de spectacles) or une contravention (a parking ticket)!
- European (and French) weeks begin on Mondays. Traditionally in the U.K., Sundays start the new week, though the Euro-continental rhythm applies more and more. But it is still true of North America. So the week-end over there is Saturday, not Saturday and Sunday.
Classified crossings (Fr. passages pour piétons):
- zebra crossing : passage piétons traditionnel, la chaussée est zébrée de bandes de peinture blanche (ou jaune); parfois encore appelé "passage clouté" en français;
- pelican crossing : passage décalé, avec un refuge au milieu de la chaussée; souvent accompagné d'une commande presse-bouton;
- puffin-crossing : le sol du trottoir est muni de capteurs pour détecter si des piétons attendent; les panneaux lumineux sont à côté du piéton et non de l'autre côté de la chaussée.
- toucan-crossing (= two can) la traversée est autorisée aux piétons et aux cyclistes.
In this section ("Language 3") you will learn some of the most common proverbs ; you want to say "la nuit tous les chats sont gris" or "l'union fait la force", but haven't got the words for this, you're just a click away from the answer ...
There used to be a habit of getting as close as possible to the King's English, nowadays it seems the Queen's English is full of surprises, as illustrated by a recent article in The Sun. Alison Maloney sure has a knack for writing fun ! Her article is based on a book by social anthropologist and author Kate Fox (Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour), who lists the words that have become impossible to utter at Buckingham Palace. Six of them are of French (Norman ?) origin:
- "Pardon" is recommandable when you want someone to repeat; not with the Royals, though; say : "Sorry?" or "Sorry, what ?" (A Queen should never beg, even if it is someone's pardon ...)
- "portion", like a ‘portion’ of food, has to be replaced by : a ‘helping’.
- "toilet" for which the French use the English W(ater) C(loset) while Americans go to 'bathroom', has to be strictly avoided. Use the word ‘lavatory’, or even 'loo', although it sounds definitely lower middle class !
- "perfume" is low-rate; use the word "scent". Sixty years ago, was it not the opposite ? You would buy scent at Woolworth's, and Dior "perfume"at the perfume-shop ...
- apparently, "serviette" is also forbidden; 'napkin' is preferred.
- "lounge" (probably from the French s'allonger) is to be discarded ; 'drawing-room' and 'sitting-room' sound much more royal ...
We can understand why posh and tea sound out of place : they are definitely lower-class phrases (especially 'tea' as a synonym of 'evening meal'). So ‘dinner’ or ‘supper’ are the words to use. As for 'posh', it was originally an acronym ("Port Outward, Starboard Home") describing the shipboard cabins of wealthy travelers to India. But the Royals prefer ‘smart’.
And even if the Queen's Mother remains for every Briton "Queen Mum", by no means should you make use of the phrase "Mum and dad". ‘Mummy and daddy’ are the only terms royals use.