Thursday, June 23, 2011

French-English: colocataire, locataire

Years ago I was chatting in French with a Canadian fellow who rented an apartment with a Frenchwoman. I referred to her as his petite amie (girlfriend), whereupon he corrected me and said in French that they were colocataires, which I had always mentally translated as roommates (i.e., she was not his girlfriend).

Today when I was chatting about those folks in French with a different Canadian fellow, I wanted to first mention that they were renters, and I found myself coming up with nothing when searching my mind for the French equivalent. I explained in English my lack of sufficient French vocabulary, and my chat partner replied that the word is locataires.

I mulled this over and realized that while colocataire would probably most commonly be thought of in English as meaning roommate, an alternate translation is joint tenant (per, a great web resource for translation, which has a matching iOS app that I've used on my iPod for months).  From that alternate translation, it is "obvious" that locataire on its own means tenant/renter.

Merci, C.!

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