Viva la France!
The French language is a notoriously hard language to conquer. There are hundreds of rules governing the grammar, feminine and masculine versions of random words and sentence structures that will make you sound like Yoda when translated into English.
But fear not because this article will help you navigate the most common mistakes made by locals and terms you’ll come across in your daily life.
– Mispronounced Words –
Singaporean Pronunciation: ren-day-ves
Actual Pronunciation: ron-deh-vou
Yes, it’s that hotel at Dhoby Ghaut, but it just basically means to meet. You’ve probably heard this if you were in the army or if you like romantic French movies.
2. Foie Gras
Singaporean Pronunciation: foy-grass
Actual Pronunciation: fhwa- gra
Foie gras is a French delicacy made from goose liver. It’s made of pure fat and it tastes amazing! Although this ingredient is primarily used in French cooking, its unique taste has earned it a place in many other cuisines too, creating some truly amazing dishes.
Singaporean Pronunciation: canes
Actual Pronunciation: kah-ne
No, it’s not the word feared by most 5 year old children in Singapore. Cannes is a city in the south of France which is perhaps most famous for the Canne Film Festival. The city is known for her breath taking beauty and the movie stars that grace her streets during the film festival in the summer.
Singaporean Pronunciation: crow-sont
Actual Pronunciation: cwa-sont
The French pastry that everyone loves. Now you can be one of those annoying customers that argue with the Delifrance auntie about the right pronunciation.
Singaporean Pronunciation: alt-tay-yer
Actual Pronunciation: ah-te-le-yeh
You’ll see this in French clothing stores or even some restaurants. It means workshop and it’s just a fancier way to say it!
6. Haute Couture
Singaporean Pronunciation: hot-caught-ere
Actual Pronunciation: oute-cot-ure
Fashionistas will have definitely heard of this one. It means high fashion and is commonly used in the fashion industry by high end brands on their latest styles. No affiliation to Randy Couture.Source
7. Coup d’état
Singaporean Pronunciation: coup-de-tat
Actual Pronunciation: coo-de-ta
A coup d’état is the forceful act of overthrowing an organization. It’s also how modern France was founded a la The French Revolution.
8. Faux Pas
Singaporean Pronunciation: fox-pass
Actual Pronunciation: fo-pa
A faux pas is a social blunder. For example, wearing mismatching socks can be considered a faux pas, while Zidane getting a red card for his headbutt at the World Cup isn’t one. Source
Singaporean Pronunciation: voi-lah!
Actual Pronunciation: vuah-la!
An expression that is used when presenting something extraordinary. Like “Voila! The only ERP Gantry that has ever gone down for maintenance!”
Actual Pronunciation: bou-lanj-ere
That funny word behind your favourite bakery that does all those amazing baguettes you love so much. It means bakery, one that focuses on making bread instead of patisseries that make other types pastries like cakes or tarts.
Bonus: Misunderstood French Words
But funnier than mispronounced French words are misunderstood French words! Here we include 4 French words that too many of our fellow Singaporeans misunderstand.
What you think it means: the undergarment
What it actually means: arm
So that’s why my mother gave Dr Francois that strange look when she had to get her blood pressure taken!
What you think it means: more bras
What it actually means: a type of French restaurant
A brasserie is a French restaurant that is slightly more formal than a bistro. It’s also the french word for brewery.
What you think it means: button
What it actually means: pimple
“Moi cher! you look as cute as a bouton tonight” is not a good pickup line. Particularly so if she is French.
What you think it means: liver
What it actually means: book
Dear French waiter who worked at the restaurant I had lunch at last week, I’m sorry I threw that fried book in your face, I thought I ordered something else.
If this list has inspired a love for all things French in you, or if you’d just like to learn more about France, you can! By checking out Voilah! the signature French festival in Singapore. The festival isn’t held at any one place, but will be celebrated across the dozens of French businesses and popular establishments in Singapore, and venues such as Gardens by the Bay, Singapore Botanic Gardens, Victoria Theatre and Art Science Museum.
Events range from art exhibitions to concerts by French bands and DJs, and even outdoor film screenings for World Environment Day. If you are a fan of French cuisine, you’ll be glad to know that French restaurants across Singapore will be offering special menu items and prices for the duration of the festival, as part of the first ever Voilah! French Food Festival.
So if you’re ready to get your French on, you can visit the official website where they have the full schedule.
When: 4th May – 21st June
This post is brought to you by Voilah!