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Themen

The Language of Love

As the saying goes, French is the language of love. So, let’s take this opportunity to delve into peoples’ hearts and minds and discuss expressions featuring the theme of love, ever so present in conversations, literature, and songs. 

 

Grand Corps Malade sings about le grand amour (true love) in his song "Les Voyages en Train":

 

Le grand amour change forcément ton comportement

True love inevitably changes your behavior

Caption 13, Grand Corps Malade Les Voyages en train

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The masculine noun amour also exists in the plural form, as in the expression la saison des amours, which means "the season of love" when referring to humans:

 

Ah oui, oui, oui, c'est la saison des amours là.

Ah yes, yes, yes, it's the season of love now.

Caption 44, Lionel à Lindre-Basse - Part 5

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And "the mating season" when referring to animals:

 

Et là, c'est la saison des amours là?

And now, it's the mating season now?

Caption 43, Lionel à Lindre-Basse - Part 5

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The term conjoint (mate) applies to both the animal and the human kingdom:

 

Elles trouvent le temps long parce que le conjoint, il tarde à venir là.

They feel that time is moving slowly because their mate is taking his time to arrive now.

Caption 45, Lionel à Lindre-Basse - Part 5

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You'll often come across conjoint (partner/spouse) when filling out an administrative form:

 

L'utilisation du nom du conjoint nécessite certaines démarches.

Adopting a partner’s name requires certain steps.

 

Alternatively, you will also come across the word époux/épouse (spouse) which works in the same way as "spouse" in English—as a slightly more formal alternative to le mari (husband) and la femme (wife):

 

Voilà. Je désire prendre votre fille pour épouse.

Here's the deal. I want to take your daughter as my wife.

Caption 19, Il était une fois: l’Homme 6. Le siècle de Périclès - Part 3

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Vous acceptâtes de me prendre pour époux

You accepted to take me for a husband

Captions 26-27, Oldelaf interprète "Bérénice"

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Speaking of époux, young girls in fairy tales often dream of épouser (marrying) le Prince Charmant (Prince Charming):

 

Seule dans sa chambre elle rêve encore au Prince Charmant

Alone in her room she still dreams of Prince Charming

Caption 8, Wallen Donna

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These days, people might look for their Prince Charming on un site de rencontre (a dating site):

 

Je m'inscris sur un site de rencontre pour retraités.

I'm subscribing to a dating site for retirees.

Caption 12, Le Jour où tout a basculé Mes grands-parents sont infidèles - Part 1

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Of course, faire une rencontre (meeting someone) or rencontrer l’amour (finding love) can happen in any setting, even unusual ones, as Nico can attest in this video:

 

Nico rencontre l'amour à un feu rouge.

Nico finds love at a red light.

Caption 34, Extr@ Ep. 5 - Une étoile est née - Part 8

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With a little luck, Nico may have found une âme sœur (a soulmate):

 

Petites fées du cœur accueillent les âmes sœurs

Little love fairies welcome the soulmates

Captions 25-26, Melissa Mars Music Videos Army of Love

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In any case, Nico and his neighbors Sacha and Annie have a complicated love life. They are all amoureux (in love), but with the wrong people!

 

Elles ont un voisin, Nico, qui est amoureux de Sacha, et Annie est amoureuse de Nico.

They have a neighbor, Nico, who is in love with Sacha, and Annie is in love with Nico.

Captions 3-5, Extr@ Ep. 1 - L'arrivée de Sam - Part 1

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Nico wants Sacha to be sa petite amie (his girlfriend), while Annie wants Nico to be son petit ami (her boyfriend). They could simplify their lives by being amis (just friends), but that's not how love works! The adjective petit (little) is just an endearing term of affection that bears no relation to size at all. It simply implies a more exclusive relationship:

 

Ça va être ta petite amie qui doit être jalouse.

It's your girlfriend who must be jealous.

Caption 20, Le Jour où tout a basculé J'ai piégé mon fan - Part 4

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Instead of using the term petit ami/petite amie, they could have said une petite copine (a girlfriend) or un petit copain (a boyfriend).

 

Traditionally, the next step is to progress from petits amis to mari et femme (husband and wife), and perhaps to sing together, like the couple in the video below:

 

Tout comme sa femme, le mari chante bien.

Just like his wife, the husband sings well.

Caption 56, Le saviez-vous? "Non plus", forme négative de "aussi" - Part 1

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But before jumping into marriage, the pair may first se fiancer (become engaged). Hence the term un fiancé/une fiancée, which English borrowed from French:

 

Comme par exemple... ta fiancée? T'en as une? C'est ça?

Like, for example... your fiancée? You have one? Is that right?

Caption 46, Le Jour où tout a basculé À la recherche de mon père - Part 4

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Fiancés might celebrate their fiançailles (engagement) with an engagement party, though perhaps not as grandiosely as Anne of Austria and Louis the Thirteenth, who had the famous Place des Vosges in Paris built for the occasion:

 

...à l'occasion des fiançailles de Louis Treize et d'Anne d'Autriche.

...on the occasion of the engagement of Louis the Thirteenth and Anne of Austria.

Caption 16, De nouvelles découvertes avec Marion La place des Vosges

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Les fiançailles usually lead to another celebration, the wedding (le mariage or la noce):

 

...à l'occasion de son mariage entre mille huit cent quatre-vingt-douze et mille neuf cent deux.

on the occasion of his wedding, between eighteen ninety-two and nineteen hundred two.

Caption 36, Le Mans TV Mon Village - Malicorne - Part 5

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La noce se fera en automne.

The wedding will take place in the fall. 

 

Two things worth noting about the word un mariage (marriage). It’s spelled with only one r, and it can mean either “wedding” (the ceremony) or “marriage" (the relationship). La noce, however, only means "wedding."

 

While marriage is usually a union based on love, in some cases, a marriage might be un mariage blanc, which literally means “white/blank marriage,” as Patricia explains in her video:

 

Un mariage blanc, c'est un mariage arrangé, ou pas consommé.

A white marriage is an arranged marriage, or not consummated.

Captions 56-57, Le saviez-vous? La couleur blanche et ses expressions - Part 2

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Usually though, a marriage is a happy occasion on which la mariée (the bride) and le mari (the groom) exchange vows:

 

La mariée et le marié sont aussi au rendez-vous

The bride and the groom are also at the rendez-vous

Caption 16, Amadou et Mariam Beaux dimanches

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Many newlyweds (nouveaux mariés) go on une lune de miel (honeymoon):

 

Celle-là, c'était l'année de notre rencontre. Et notre lune de miel.

That one was the year we met. And our honeymoon.

Captions 35-36, Le Jour où tout a basculé À la recherche de mon passé - Part 3

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Of course, le mariage is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some people may decide to vivre en couple (to live together as a couple) instead. The word couple can refer to the number of people in the relationship, as in English, or to the relationship itself:

 

Notre couple allait mal.

Our relationship was going badly.

Caption 57, Le Jour où tout a basculé À la recherche de mon passé - Part 8

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Finally, those who remain unattached are called célibataires (single), like the lady mentioned in this video:

 

Et elle est toujours célibataire.

And she's still single.

Caption 90, Le Jour où tout a basculé À la recherche de mon passé - Part 5

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On November 25th, la Sainte-Catherine (Saint Catherine’s Day), single, unmarried young girls celebrate their catherinette by saying a special prayer for a suitor, before they reach the age of twenty-five. 

 

As much as le grand amour (true love) may seem like the perfect recipe for happiness, one cannot vivre d’amour et d’eau fraiche (live on love alone). On the other hand, as the Beatles' song goes, all you need is love!

 
Vocabulary

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