During our exchange programme with a school in France, my sister formulated for me The Golden Rule. If you don’t know a word in French, pronounce the English word that you do know in the French way. The likelihood of its being the real French word is very high. We used it for the first time with the word ‘superstition’, and I marvelled at how well it worked.
My sister herself broke the golden rule once, though, when we were with French friends in Calcutta. We were in an area dominated by Chinese restaurants and Chinese shoe-makers and I wanted to point out the fact that there are tanneries everywhere. It’s a locality that’s noteworthy for that, but I didn’t know the word for ‘tannery’.My sister did not know the word either. ‘Tannery’ does not sound like a French word. Glaring at me for wanting such a complicated idea explained, she launched into a detailed story of the whole process of curing leather. I was fascinated by the number of words she had at her disposal. I was rather proud of her too because she explained everything so well.
Our friends nodded, understanding, and were suitably impressed by her explanation. To help us avoid getting into the whole explanation again. Bernard said, “Ah! C’est une tannerie!”
We learned, yet again. Never break the golden rule. The English word the French way works EVERY time.