Ramadan (le ramadan) started recently,* so I thought I’d post some related vocabulary, particularly since there are a lot of Muslims (les musulmans) in France—about 5-10% of France’s population.1,2 Ramadan is a month of fasting (le jeûne), during which followers don’t eat or drink anything from sunrise to sunset.
At first glance, le jeûne (a fast) looks a lot like jeune (young), but there’s a circumflex that affects the pronunciation. Clicking on the sentence below will let you listen to an audio file.
Un jeune fait un jeûne. (Sentence is just provided for pronunciation reference.)
It’s also interesting to note that déjeuner, which means lunch in France, means breakfast in Belgian and Canadian French. I’ve heard that déjeuner also meant breakfast in France until the time of Louis XIV, who woke up so late that he had breakfast at lunchtime. His court apparently had to have un petit déjeuner to tide them over. In case you were wondering, lunch in Quebec is le dîner and dinner is le souper—sort of like dinner and supper in the midwestern United States.
*No, I’m not Muslim. I just try to keep informed about these things.
1. Erlanger, Steven, de la Baume, Maïa. French Panel Debates Secularism and Islam. New York Times. April 5, 2011.
2. BBC news. Muslims in Europe: Country guide. December 23, 2005. Accessed August 4, 2011.