5 French expressions used in everyday English

The Conseil scolaire francophone (CSF), also known as School District 93, has been a part of the British Columbia public education system for more than 20 years. The District offers the B.C. public school curriculum in French to more than 5,500 students in grades K – 12 around the province.

"French is the mother tongue of approximately 22 percent of the Canadian population," says Pascal Cyr, Public Relations Coordinator at CSF. "French is an important part of Canadian culture and we share many words in common with the English language."

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Here are 5 great examples of French expressions that you've probably used numerous times in everyday English conversation:

1.     Hors d'oeuvre: Also known as appetizers, hors d'oeuvres are those delicious bite-sized snacks served before a meal. The literal translation is "outside of work," which was intended to convey that the snacks were not part of the set meal course. In the past, hors d'oeuvres were served between courses.

2.     Rendez-vous: Often written in English as "rendezvous," this phrase refers to a planned meeting between two or more people. Rendez-vous originated around the 16th century when it could be literally translated as "present yourselves."

3.     Bon Voyage: A popular expression for wishing someone a “good trip” or safe travels.

4.     Je ne sais quoi: Literally meaning "I don't know what," this phrase is used in English to refer to a pleasant quality that is hard to describe; for example, "She has a certain je ne sais quoi that is charming."

5.     Déja-vu: Meaning "already seen," this popular phrase describes that strong sensation of having already experienced something that just happened.

Approximately 50 percent of the vocabulary used in English is derived from French. Unfortunately, learning the language is not quite as simple as mastering the other 50 percent, but it’s comforting to know that you’ve already got a base level of understanding to build from.

In Whistler, CSF operates l'école La Passerelle, an elementary school and the Pemberton community is served by l'école La Vallée, also an elementary school.  M. Michel Tardif is the principal of both schools and can be reached at 604.932.9602 or by email at michel_tardif@csf.bc.ca.

For general information on CSF and its French education programs, checkout the website for your closest school, or phone 604.214.2600. CSF can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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