_ Often, I think about words. I will wonder about the origin of a word, as well as its meaning. I notice how some meanings change over time, even becoming different from the original use.
Thoughts about words become more interesting when a second dimension is thrown into the mix, ie. comparing words in different languages. This can be humorous or even dangerous, especially when people do not understand the meaning in another language.
Here are two examples, which came to mind today...
1. There is a French bakery chain in Frankfurt (it may or may not have other outlets, but this is not an advertisement), called Maison du Pain. When patronizing the shop, family members playfully refer to it as the House of Pain. For the dolts out there, pain is “bread” in French. So, this simple combination of four letters can mean something necessary for life in one language, whereas it means an experience all humans want to avoid in another.
2. Christmas is a time of exchanging gifts. Everyone wants to discover something nice under the tree. That would not be the case in Germany, if you were to receive a gift of Gift. Another simple combination of four letters is something desirable in one language, yet deadly in another. You see, in German Gift means “poison”.
Never leave the country without a dictionary. Besides providing hours of enlightenment and entertainment, it can be life-saving.
NB. What a deal! Today, you received a German Word of the Day and the first French Word of the Day. I am sure to continue with the former, but cannot promise further editions of the latter. Peut-être.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.