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Posted on21 March 2018

Atlas Translations: Translation into French

French is the official language in 29 countries and is spoken by more than 200 million people over the world, which ranked la langue de Molière to the 6th most widely spoken language.

French, Atlas Translations, Translation into French, St Albans, London, Herts, Clare Suttie

Due to French speaking countries colonialism in the 17th and 18th centuries, French language has been expanded to new continents and can now be heard all over the world.

Before English becomes the ‘’international language’’, French was probably one of the most used language for international relations and is still recognize nowadays as one of the three most useful languages for international business alongside English and Mandarin Chinese.

Let’s talk about History

If you think French is one of the hardest languages to learn, you should probably know that 29% of the English words actually come from French, which means that it is very unlikely that you don’t know anything about French.


The English History has been marked by several – not always friendly – exchanges with France. Historians coincide in that the Norman invasion in 1066 had a very important impact on Britain as well as on the English language. William the Conqueror brought with him the Norman French (old French spoken in the North of France) and it became the court and upper-classes mainly used language, which is why we can mostly find French words in the luxury sector, or in military and religion related words for instance.

French words and phrases that cannot be translated

Here is a small selection of words and phrases that cannot be translated in English:

  • Passer du coq à l’âne: to change topics without logical in a conversation or radically change of activity.

Literal Translation: To go from the cock to the donkey.

  • Donner sa langue au chat: when you have no clue about something or you give up on a riddle for instance.

Literal translation: to give one’s tongue to the cat.

  • Empêchement: when you have an unexpected change in your agenda and cannot go where you firstly planned to go.

Famous non-native speakers:

Samuel Beckett: Irish poet, novelist and play writer lived in Paris wrote several of his work in French.

Bradley Cooper, Emma Watson.

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