I ran into a French-English translation problem that really confused me last week.

I received an email in French that noted that graduate students where I work were not allowed to have paid vacations. It then went on to talk about how there weren’t enough ways for our graduate students to get teaching experience. I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out what the relationship between paid vacations and teach was.

In the end, I was trapped by a faux-ami. I assumed that vacation meant the same thing in French as it does in English. It definitely does not. Apparently it is sort of a “one-off”, used in different contexts. Here it meant that the graduate students couldn’t even be substitute teachers.

It’s not that the French have a different word for everything — sometimes it’s the same different word…

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