Translation of False Cognates from English to French: ‎The Case of Kisangani University Students

Ilunga Bwana Norbert


French and English belong to the Indo-European family of languages and have had a long history of contact, displaying many similar words that range from true cognates through partial false cognates to absolute false cognates. The issue of interference between two or several languages has been widely discussed. This is also of big concern for Congolese students who study French as a second language and English as a foreign language. Experience has shown that there is a kind of influence that arises at all levels (l) of language learning: phonological, morphological, syntactic, lexical, semantic, pragmatic. The present paper seeks to understand the cognate relationship between English and French and the extent to which it interferes with each other when translating. The target group for this research is composed of Congolese students studying French as a second language and English as a foreign language. Literature shows that translating from second language into native language is much easier than the other way around. This paper attempts to find out if this trend may also be confirmed while translating from foreign language into second language, which, presumably, is well mastered by the translators. The paper also aims to check if interference is pyramidal from beginners to more advanced students. It also attempts to see the way in which absolute and partial false cognates interfere in the students’ translations depending on the levels to which these students belong.


false cognate, interference, translation, second language, third language

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