Blog du jour – Blog des Tages: Similar Language Differences for the New Semester!

By Shayna Davidson, CAPS French Tutor, and Casey Sims, CAPS German Tutor

Ever notice a few similarities between languages when you’re studying them concurrently? Well, there’s a chance that they borrowed from one another over the centuries. Here are a few examples of loanwords from German to French and French to German.

During and after the fall of Rome, northern Europe was largely overrun by Germanic tribes. Among these German groups were the Franks, who became subsequently “Latinized”. The Franks colonized the part of Europe we now know as France, which the Romans had colonized as Gaul, and adopted large parts of this culture, including the Latin elements that developed into modern French. It’s been said that “French is what happens when Germans learn Latin.”

Some French words, grammar structures, and pronunciation used today have distinct Germanic influences as a result of this history.

Here are the words listed from German to French to English:

1. Bier — biere – beer

2. Vampir – vampire — vampire

3. Eulenspiegel (a German man) – espiegle – playful

4. Zink — zinc – zinc

Screen Shot 2018-02-13 at 1.01.17 PMScreen Shot 2018-02-13 at 1.01.27 PM

Source for Image 1, Source for Image 2

The influence goes both ways, though at a later date. As France extended its influence over Europe during the Early Modern and Modern Periods, what would become Germany included, people used words of French origin as they entered their vocabulary. Unlike French, German rarely has silent letters and as such borrows the pronunciations of certain words.

Here are some examples still used in German today listen from French to German to English.

1. porte-monnaie – Portemonnaie – wallet

2. atelier – Atelier – studio apartment

3. aventure – Abenteuer – adventure

4. egal – egal – indifferent//used as ‘whatever’


Source for Image 3, Source for Image 4

Interested in learning more French or German vocabulary, or services related to language learning in general? For more information about which languages are offered and where, click here!

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