Raccourci, déviation, détour.
raa-koor-see, day-vee-yah-seeYAW, day-TOUR. Click below to hear this.*
Shortcut, detour, detour. (Yes, two detours! Read on.)
This is a case of good, bad, and…well, good again. Everyone likes a shortcut, right? Un raccourci is a shorter route, to a place or to the accomplishment of a task. That’s good news for everyone, unless of course you screw it up and get lost, or bypass essential steps to success. Go ahead and say Je vais faire un raccourci (I’m going to take a shortcut), but think before you act.
Une déviation, on the other hand, is not a choice you make. Someone makes it for you. It is usually written like this: DÉVIATION, and is often accompanied by a sign like this:
They want to make sure you see it. They are sending you on a detour ten miles out of your way, because the bridge over the canyon is out ahead.
The most entertaining of all is un détour, because it’s usually something you do on purpose. For example: On va faire un petit détour… (We’re going to take a little detour…) Here are a few fun ways to complete that sentence:
…pour rendre visite à Grand’maman (to visit Grandma).
…pour visiter la Tour Eiffel (to visit the Eiffel Tower).
…pour prendre le pain (to buy the bread).
Just notice that in English we take a detour or a shortcut, but in French we make one: faire un détour, un raccourci.
*Some mobile phones, such as Blackberries, won’t display the audio player. If no player appears, here’s an alternative link to the audio file: