Ohh, the slippery delights of language!

Normally, when I’m in France and don’t know how to say something, I just use the English word in my cod French accent and nine times out of  ten get by okay.  There are, however, moments when the similarities between our languages can be incredibly misleading.

We saw the above sign on our last trip.

The helpful translation (by Google, perhaps?) offers free accosting – which according to my Pocket Oxford means “approach and address, esp boldly (of prostitute)”.  In French it means mooring.

It sent us on our way with smiles on our faces, but I guess there’s a moral here as well: words mean different things in different contexts and nuances can be vital if you don’t want to be misunderstood.  If ever you’re in doubt about the precise meaning of a word, look it up; it’s a great way to expand your vocabulary and you’re bound to stumble across something else interesting at the same time.  It might also save you some embarrassment: until I was twenty four I thought that enervated meant excited – I was in a play in Edinburgh which was described as, “the most enervating show on the Fringe,” and we stuck the review up outside the theatre, thinking that such high praise would have the punters falling over each other to get in.