If you’re new in France and practicing French and yoga at the same time, you’d no doubt have heard your instructor say ‘Inspirez…’ and ‘Expirer…’ When i first got here I found these curious just like other faux amis (lit. false friends: French words that are similar to English but mean different things ranging in difference in nuance to fundamental meaning). Then I got over the initial surprise and got used to my instructor telling me to inspire and to expire when holding my poses. But last night I learned that a vacuum cleaner is an ‘aspirateur’ in French. It tickles me to imagine vacuum cleaners aspiring to become something, I don’t know, maybe a Roomba? Or maybe they were previously brooms who had aspirations and ultimately evolved into vacuum cleaners.
On a related note, the word perspire doesn’t exist in French. This is a tip for those like myself to try to wing French by replacing normal sounding words like sweat to more scientific or sophisticated words like perspiration and hoping that the francophone listener would understand what we mean. But nope, perspiration doesn’t work in this case. The word you’re looking for is ‘transpiration.’ Every time you break a sweat, something transpires between your body and the world. Sounds weirdly philosophical, yeah?
Another similar story but this time it doesn’t involve translation. Just two words in English but how they are used in diff countries. In this case: the US/Malaysia to my knowledge and England. My English friend recently ‘hired’ a car to make a road trip from France to Italy. Well where I come from we say ‘rent’ a car. We hire a person, not a thing, right? But you know, in england, you hire one and it’s kinda cute because it conjures an image of these vehicles waiting in line clutching their resumes in order to be ‘hired’ for a gig. Maybe they can get career advice from their fellow machinery aka the vacuum dreamers I mean cleaners.
That’s all for my small anthromorphological (am I using this word right?) anecdote for today!