February is National Heart Health Month!
Mangeons du chocolat ! 22 % de risques en moins de souffrir d’un infarctus.
mah-ZHAW dew show-koh-LAH! vaat-DUH poor SAH duh rees kah MWAA duh soo-FREER duh naa-faark-TEWSS.
Let’s eat chocolate! 22% lower risk of suffering a heart attack.
Thanks to Franck, known on Twitter as @goutetnature (goût et nature: taste and nature, pronounced goo-ay-nah-TEWR), for this phrase! He posted it because he is a chocolatier (show-koh-lah-tee-YAY), a person who makes chocolates. I’m posting it because it’s Heart Health Month, and because I love le chocolat, and because it’s a great example of a difficult expression in French.
Franck is talking primarily about dark chocolate, of course, where the flavonoids that favor heart health are the most intense.
Un infarctus is one way to say a heart attack. Sounds very medical, doesn’t it? But for Twitter’s 140-character limitation, it beats the other common term, une crise cardiaque (ewn kreez kaar-dYACK), which literally means a heart attack. (I mention Twitter, of course, because you can receive a free daily tweet of these phrases with links to this site! See the Twitter button on the sidebar.)
I don’t need any invitation to eat du chocolat (some chocolate, as opposed to le chocolat, all the chocolate we can find; that’s not healthy, and it’s not grammatically correct. But that’s a topic we’ll come back to.) Bet you don’t, either. But this is an invitation: if you must know, it’s the imperative in the first person plural. It’s what we translate in English as Let’s.
Now then: 22% de risques en moins de souffrir un infarctus. So many interesting things to say about this phrase!
- Percentages: Just like English: number + pour cent, per cent, which really means per hundred in both languages.
- If you have a percentage of something, there must be more than one of them. Hence, risques in the plural. In English, we often use risk as a non-count noun, or a mass noun, or whatever other term you learned in school. It’s often used like something you can’t count, like sleep. So in English we talk about less risk. In French, the sense is fewer risks.
- In order to compare changes in numbers of things, English uses an adverb before the noun: more, less, fewer. In French, first you have to say what you are comparing: risques. Only then do you say by how much the change occurs. That’s where en moins comes in: It means by less.
- Finally, in English, we tend to overuse verbs like have, get, be. The French language prefers to select a more exact word for each situation. So here, we say souffrir d’un infarctus, suffer (from) a heart attack.
Now…your job is to éviter (avoid) de souffrir d’un infarctus!