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French Words With No English Translation

10 Phrases That Make French a Language Worth Preserving

I don't like hearing about any languages disappearing, but the idea of French's demise seems intolerable. Fortunately, it is also probably impossible, at least in the near future, but French is a language in decline. Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) is an organization dedicated to promoting democracy, peace, and human rights in the 70 French-speaking countries and also to preserving the French language. Here are 10 words and phrases with no English equivalents that make the unmistakable case for Francais.

  1. Dépaysement: The sensation of being in another country.
  2. La douleur exquise: The heart-wrenching pain of wanting someone you can't have. Even a Sex and the City episode was named after it!
  3. Chomer: To be unemployed, but because it's a verb, it makes the state active.
  4. Profiter: To make the most of or take advantage of.
  5. Flaneur: As defined in the book Elegant Wits and Grand Horizontals, it's "the deliberately aimless pedestrian, unencumbered by any obligation or sense of urgency, who, being French and therefore frugal, wastes nothing, including his time, which he spends with the leisurely discrimination of a gourmet, savoring the multiple flavors of his city."
  6. Esprit d'escalier: The literal translation is staircase wit, but it means to think of a comeback when it's too late.
  7. Retrouvailles: The happiness of meeting again after a long time.
  8. Sortable: An adjective for someone you can take anywhere without being embarrassed.
  9. Voila/voici: It's so necessary that we use it all the time. "Voila" literally means "there it is" and "voici" means "here it is."
  10. Empechement: An unexpected last-minute change of plans. A great excuse without having to be specific.

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