The Olympics and Cognates - The Sequel Post

Stade olympique de vancouver
Stade olympique de vancouver
by Centre_France is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

My last post was mostly teacher-centered so I wanted to take the opportunity to write a similar post geared at those of you who are learning French.

Cognates are a blessing; they are easy to memorize and easy to pick up on in reading and listening. French, although not a Germanic language like English, has an abundance of cognates for English-speakers, and more and more pop up as English words infiltrate French language, much to the chagrin of the Académie Française, the prestigious organization charged with keeping up the "Frenchiness" of the French language. Cognates, despite being recognizable, sometimes difficult to pronounce. My 9th grade French teacher once told our class that it's not the foreign-looking words that cause the most trouble to language learners, it's the ones that look just like the learner's native language, because he or she has a tendency to pronounce them in their native language.

Cognates are very common in sports, because French words for sports often come from an English word. Of the 15 winter Olympic sports, all but two are cognates, or have a cognate within them. Some of them, like curling, are simply an English word altogether. Which leads me to my next point. As I mentioned above, English words are popping up more and more in the French language. An ad for Visa on the French language Vancouver website declares "Go le monde," as in "Go World." Why not "Allez le monde"? It may be due in part to the fact that Visa wanted to keep their slogan as close as possible to the recognizable English one (this is totally conjecture on my part though), or perhaps they thought putting an English word in made it catchier. The worksheet I made for the activity in my last post has this ad in it, as well as four other ads whose
text and photos contain clues to what the words mean.

Other topics that contain many cognates from French to English

  • The internet and technology
  • Geography
  • Pop culture

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