If you find yourself feeling like the butt of an in-joke when you tell your French friends that you’re avoiding preservatifs to be healthy, that’s because you’ve actually just told them that you’re avoiding condoms. French people love to laugh at the English. In fact, they love it so much that they designed their language for English speakers to suck at it. Faux Amis (pronounced ‘foe army’) or False Friends, are French words that look and sound like English words, but have significantly different meanings. The following are some French words that I advise you and your maladroit French accent to avoid at all costs:
Excité – Don’t tell anyone who you are sexually uninterested in that you are so excité to see them this weekend. Why? Because you are conveying to them that the thought of them arouses you. This can be particularly awkward in conversations with family members, teachers and the elderly, who may scratch their heads when you talk about how much cupcakes and cats arouse you too.
Traînée – Avoid spreading the word that you are a traînée at the new restaurant around the corner, as the words slag, prostitute and hobo are not synonymous with setting tables, taking orders and scrubbing plates.
S’introduire – A simple ‘Let’s all s’introduire each other!’ would seemingly start off as a friendly icebreaker on a Saturday night, but swap introduce for penetrate and you have seriously messed up. Screaming and running ensues. Congratulations, you have just performed the pièce de résistance of faux amis.
Unless you’re ready for a world where sex precedes salutations and condoms equal calories, perhaps it’s best to ditch that French 1 class you’ve just enrolled in.