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French, English, Hindi : similarities

August 7, 2012

French, English and Hindi belong to a same family, called : Indo-European languages (for a list of the 9 major language families, see the Wikipedia page : List of language families).

→ Therefore, they present similarities as they descend from a common (hypothetical) ancestor. Ex :

  • moi / me / मैं
  • maman / mummy / माँ
  • nom / name / नाम
  • soleil / sun / सूरज
  • un deux trois / one two three / एक दो तिन

French and English are even more closely related :

Even if English and French belongs to 2 different subfamilies (respectively, German languages and Italic languages), around 30 % of the English vocabulary is directly derived from French.

This vocabulary was mainly transmitted during the XIth  Century : In 1066, William, Duke of Normandie (Northern part of France) invaded England. During his reign, the nativ ruling class was replaced by a French speaking one. (This is similar to what happened in Northern India during the Moghol period : Farsi was the language of the administration and the court, and that is how progressively many Farsi words were included into the Hindi language)

→ Therefore, for an English speaker, French is full of “transparent words“. Ex :

  • English : anglais  ; French : français
  • Vocabulary : vocabulaire
  • Dictionary : dictionnaire
  • Hospital : hôpital
  • University : université
  • Music : musique

(See also the Wikipedia page : List of English words of French origin)

→ But  beware of “faux amis” (false friends) !!! Here are some :

  • Travailler ≠ to travel, but means “to work”
  • Attendre ≠ to attend, but means “to wait”
  • Blesser ≠ to bless, but means “to injure”
  • Coin (m) ≠ coin, but means “corner”
  • Librairie (f) ≠ library, but means “bookstore”

English speakers also use a lot a French words and phrases kept unchanged. See the Wikipedia page : List of French words and phrases used by English speakers.

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