Longest French words
Intergouvernementalisations (the plural of (intergouvernementalisation) or anticonstitutionnellement. At 27, 26 and 25 letters long, these are the longest words in the French language!
Their meanings are pretty obvious to English speakers as well as French, as a surprisingly large number of English words and expressions are the same or very similar – since they’re of French origin. Thanks to William the Conqueror, French became the official language of England for 300 years. You’re actually already au fait with quite a lot of French vocabulary – it’s just that the way the words are pronounced can be very different.
Fiance, tete-a-tete, entrepreneur – just three words off the top of my head that are the same in both languages. The more you think about it, the more you realise that often it’s a matter of pronunciation (and speed of talking) that differentiates French from English.
Had a déjà vu lately? In a restaurant or café, you may start the meal with an aperitif, perhaps Champagne, and you may find, pâté or omelette is served and end with soufflé or mousse for dessert.
French tongue twisters
Improve your French by practicing some of these rather challenging virelangues/tongue twisters:
For those tricky ‘s’ and ‘ch’ sounds: Les chaussettes de l’archiduchesse sont-elles sèches, archi-sèches? (Are the Archduchess’ socks dry, very dry?)
How about this for a bit of a mouthful? This French tongue twister is full of words that sound the same but are written differently, known as homophones.
Si six scies scient six cyprès, six cents scies scient six cent cyprès (If six saws saw six cypresses, six hundred saws saw six hundred cypresses
And for those who find it hard to get the “on”s and “en”s and “ou”s and “ue”s:
“Tonton, ton thé t’a-t-il ôté ta toux” disait la tortue au tatou. “Mais pas du tout”, dit le tatou. “Je tousse tant que l’on m’entend de Tahiti à Tombouctou.” (“Uncle, your tea has cured your cough,” said the tortoise to the armadillo. “Not at all,” said the armadillo. “I cough so much that you can hear me from Tahiti to Timbuktu.”)
Top tips to help you learn French