It is incredible to think, given the sheer size of our vocabulary, that there are some French words and phrases that simply don’t have an equivalent in English.

I am at that stage in learning the language where just understanding the literal translation is no longer good enough. The sense of a phrase or word-combination is becoming increasingly important to me; certainly if I am ever to reach the dizzying heights of fluency (but believe me – I’m still years away!).

Take this phrase for example:

“Un vachement bon pont de l’âne.”

Amusingly the Microsoft online-translator Worldlingo thinks this means “A bloody good bridge of the ass.”

Which actually is not that far from the literal translation of “A cowly good donkey-bridge”, which as you can see – means absolutely nothing in English. So you can imagine my confusion when I heard this particular phrase in conversation!?

It means (more or less) : “A tremendously good mnemonic.” but the only way I could possibly have known this was if I had already been told so.

Now I know what they mean by ‘language barrier’.