Missing someone in French

French is renowned for being a language closely associated with love and romance – but why? Is it just our mental projections of fireworks over the Eiffel Tower, or is it simply an aural association with the lyrical, soothing accent and how it is often portrayed in popular culture?

Well, this isn’t an easy question to answer. But the French language definitely has a few grammatical and syntactical features that could be interpreted as strikingly romantic – at least to me, anyway.

For example, the phrase “I miss you” in English is fairly straightforward. When you render the same thought in French, however, it turns around. You don’t say “je manque toi” (literally “I miss you”), but instead you say “tu me manques”: “you are missing from me”. This conjures up a much deeper image than the English version of the phrase – the French rendition implies that you are a part of me, and that part is currently missing – a very romantic idea!

French has a wide variety of terms of endearment, almost all of which include a possessive pronoun, which once again implies a deeper sense of togetherness. Standards include mon amour (“my love”), mon cœur (“my heart”) and ma belle (“my beautiful”); but there are many other terms, many of which relate to animals – especially farm animals. For example, mon cochon (“my pig”), ma loutre (“my otter”), mon loup (“my wolf”), mon poulet (“my chicken”), mon canard (“my duck”), and even ma puce (“my flea”)!

We also get a lot of words in the syntactical field of love almost directly from French: fiancé and fiancée are verbatim, and it’s hard to ignore the obvious etymology of words like “marriage” (Fr. mariage) and “anniversary” (Fr. anniversaire).

There are many more reasons why French is so often considered to be la langue d’amour – the language of love! French Canadians would certainly agree, and if you’d like to see whether they’re right or not, why not take a look at some of the French lessons Toronto has to offer?

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