French Vocabulary – Anatomy Posted by Tim Hildreth on Jun 16, 2020 in Language, Science, Vocabulary
Here on the Transparent Language French Blog we’ve covered the parts of the body and (more than once) the parts of the face. One thing we’ve never done (at least as far as I can tell) is gone inside. So this week we turn to … les parties du corps …
Les organes internes / Internal organs
De la tête au pieds (from head to toes) what we see on the outside is only part of what makes people, people. So let’s look a little deeper.
Le cerveau / la cervelle
In French there are two words for brain. Well, ok, sort of. One, le cerveau, does translate as the brain and generally refers to the physical brain inside your crâne (skull).
The other, la cervelle, I would actually translate as brains and it is used both in the culinary sense (on mange de la cervelle / one eats brains … well, I don’t! but some people do 😉 … ) and in the metaphysical sense of ‘smarts’ (il n’a rien dans la cervelle / He’s got nothing in his brain … he’s not very smart).
The French term for heart, like the English, can have many meanings. It refers:
- to the literal cœur which keeps us alive en faisant circuler le sang dans nos veines (by pumping blood through our veins),
- to a loved one (mon cœur, mon amour / my heart, my love),
- and to the heart of a place (au cœur des Alpes / In the heart of the Alps … ) or a topic (Venons-en au cœur du sujet / Let’s move on to the heart of the matter … ).
On respire avec les poumons. / We breathe with our lungs.
Boire trop d’alcool est mauvais pour le foie. / Drinking too much alchool is bad for the liver. Unlike the brains, si vous mangez du foie (if you eat liver) it’s the same word (and while many people have decided against it, I must say that I do love foie gras).
Que peut-on dire des reins ? (What can you say about kidneys?)
Le crâne et les autres os du corps constituent le squelette (The skull and other bones of the body make up the skeleton). Which just like in English, is what holds our bodies up … and can faire peur lors de Halloween (cause fright at Halloween).
Ok, technically, at least according to mes amis médecins (my doctor friends) ce sont les muscles qui nous permettent de tenir debout (it is our muscles that allow us to stay upright!) It’s also our muscles that enable us to faire du sport.
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