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The Trouble with Trouble

The French word trouble should not give you any trouble, right? After all, it is a direct cognate of “trouble” in English… But don’t let this air of familiarity fool you. Trouble doesn’t always mean “trouble,” exactly. And that’s the trouble. So, let’s go to the trouble of exploring this sometimes troublesome word, trouble.


To determine whether or not we have a cognate is difficult. It all depends on what types of troubles we’re dealing with, and it is best to work on a case-by-case basis. The English cognate “trouble” works perfectly in some circumstances, when talking about le trouble du comportement (behavioral trouble), for example:


Pour l'ensemble de nos résidents qui correspondent au profil de trouble du comportement, Alzheimer, et cætera.

For all of our residents who fit the profile of behavioral trouble, Alzheimer's, et cetera.

Captions 21-22, JT La musicothérapie pour les aînés

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On the other hand, and despite the similar context, we no longer have a cognate in the example below. When dealing with troubles du comportement alimentaire, it's preferable to use the word “disorders” in English:


...voire même des troubles du comportement alimentaire majeurs, type, euh, anorexie.

...perhaps even major eating disorders like, um, anorexia.

Caption 18, Le Journal Publicité anti-calories

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Sometimes trouble is equivalent to “problem” in the general sense. For instance, we talk about troubles moteurs, sensoriels ou cognitifs (motor, sensory, or cognitive problems):


À l'âge de cinq ans, quarante pour cent de ces enfants ont des troubles moteurs, sensoriels ou cognitifs

At the age of five, forty percent of these children have motor, sensory, or cognitive problems

Caption 15, Le Journal Grands prématurés

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As for the term trouble used in the sense of disturbance, it's a cognate again! In times of political unrest, for example, we talk about périodes de trouble:


Aussi même pendant les périodes de trouble comme il y a neuf mois

Even during periods of trouble, such as nine months ago

Caption 25, Le Journal Les Français de Côte d'Ivoire

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And yet, if we combine trouble with an adjective, we may end up with an idiomatic expression like troubles violents (violent unrest):


S'ouvre alors une période de troubles violents

A period of violent unrest then begins

Caption 29, Le Monde Nouvelle-Calédonie : la dernière colonie française - Part 2

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People responsible for such troubles violents might be labeled as fauteurs de trouble (troublemakers): 


La police avait recensé un millier de fauteurs de troubles.

The police had counted about a thousand troublemakers.

Caption 12, Le Journal Manifestations des lycéens - Part 2

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That could spell des ennuis sérieux (serious trouble) for these fauteurs de trouble. In this animated video, the zoo animals also ont des ennuis (are in trouble). Note the French expression is avoir des ennuis (literally, "to have trouble"):


On va toutes avoir des ennuis maintenant.

We're all going to be in trouble now.

Caption 44, Les zooriginaux The Zoo Book - Part 3

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When having trouble or difficulty conducting a task, you will need to use a different expression: avoir du mal à + infinitive (to have trouble doing something):


Le Père Noël a bien du mal à finir à temps son travail.

Santa Claus is having a lot of trouble finishing his work on time.

Caption 16, Les belles histoires de Pomme d'Api Les Chaussettes du Père Noël

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Not being able to cope might mean that vous n’êtes pas au bout de vos peines (your troubles are far from over, or literally, "you're not at the end of your troubles"):


Mais bon, j'étais pas au bout de mes peines.

But, well, my troubles were far from over.

Caption 38, Le Jour où tout a basculé Mes grands-parents sont infidèles - Part 7

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When in difficulty, it’s always good to call on someone pour vous sortir d’affaires (to get you out of trouble):


On a tous besoin d’aide pour se sortir d’affaires de temps en temps

We all need help from time to time to get out of trouble.


In any event, it always pays to se donner la peine (to take the trouble) to do things right in the first place, even if it takes effort. In this example, though, se donner la peine is just a very formal way of inviting someone to take a seat (literally, "to take the trouble to sit down"):


Si madame veut bien se donner la peine.

If Madam cares to take the trouble [to go sit down].

Caption 53, Le Jour où tout a basculé Mon fils est amoureux de ma copine - Part 1

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In contrast, here is a more clearcut example where “trouble” in English is synonymous with la peine in French. Barbara wants to reward her mother for her hard work on the plumbing repair:


Pour la peine, je t'invite au restaurant.

For the trouble, I'm taking you out to the restaurant.

Caption 42, Mère & Fille C'est le plombier!

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Finally, the word trouble can also be an adjective meaning “unclear.” Such difficulty could be caused by bad eyesight, for example, as in voir trouble, which doesn’t mean “to see trouble," but “to be unable to see clearly.” Trouble is also the first-person singular indicative of the verb troubler (to trouble):


Je vois trouble et cela me trouble.

I can’t see clearly and it troubles me.


In conclusion, thank you for vous être donné/donnée la peine (taking the trouble) to read this lesson. As you may have noticed, the word trouble can be used in a variety of ways that are not always consistent. So let Yabla help you vous sortir d’affaires (get you out of trouble) with our wide range of videos featuring the word



What's Cooking?

The mention of French cuisine conjures up images of mouthwatering food prepared with loving care. How do ordinary French people manage to produce delicious meals every day? One of the key ingredients to success is how you cook the food. In this lesson, you will learn various expressions associated with cuire (cooking). À vos fourneaux! (Let’s get cooking!)


As mentioned earlier, the generic verb for “cooking” is cuire. In the video below, JB explains how he prefers to cuire ses légumes ensemble (cook his vegetables together) for his ratatouille:


En effet selon certaines traditions il faut les cuire séparément ou tous ensemble. Moi, je préfère les cuire tous ensemble.

Indeed, according to certain traditions, you have to cook them separately or all together. As for me, I prefer to cook them all together

Captions 16-18, JB La ratatouille

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As for Lucette, who is making apricot jam, she uses the expression faire cuire, which means the same thing as cuire (to cook):


Dans le temps, on les faisait cuire dans la bassine en cuivre,

In past times, we used to cook them in a copper basin,

Caption 6, Lucette La confiture d'abricots

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Lucette puts her apricots in une cocotte de cuisson (a cooker), a kind of Dutch oven for slow cooking: 


Je vais les mettre dans la cocotte de cuisson.

I'm going to put them in the cooker.

Caption 30, Lucette La confiture d'abricots

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On its own, the verb mettre usually means “to put," but mettre à cuire is yet another equivalent to cuire and faire cuire. Having said that, note that in the context of the video below, mettre à cuire departs from its usual meaning and translates as “to bake” since it’s implied that the food is going in the oven:


Et nous allons la mettre à cuire

And we're going to bake it

Caption 89, Christian Le Squer Comment cuisiner les figues

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In fact, there is no concise French equivalent of the verb “to bake”! You have to say cuire/faire cuire au four (literally, “to cook in the oven”). Watch JB bake a delicious Mirabelle plum tart in the video below:


Il s'agit de la faire cuire au four

It's a matter of baking it in the oven

Caption 36, JB La tarte aux mirabelles

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On the other hand, the verb enfourner is much more concise than its English translation, “to put/load into the oven." This skilled baker is going to enfourner les madeleines (put the madeleines in the oven):


Steven va à présent enfourner les madeleines.

Steven is now going to put the madeleines in the oven.

Caption 57, Lionel L'usine de madeleines de Liverdun - Part 2

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Then again, English has a verb for “steaming,” which doesn’t exist in French. You have to use the construction cuire + noun + à la vapeur (literally, “to cook with steam”):


Cuire les légumes à la vapeur permet de conserver les vitamines.

Steaming vegetables helps preserve vitamins.


Not only can you use the verb cuire to talk about steaming and baking, but you can also cuire at various temperatures: à feu doux (on low heat) or à feu vif (on high heat):


Tout dépend de la chaleur du feu; il faut toujours le faire à feu doux.

It all depends on the stove temperature; it always has to be done on low heat.

Caption 40, Alsace 20 Grain de Sel: Au Caveau de l'étable à Niederbronn-les-Bains

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Je fais revenir le tout à feu vif pendant trois minutes.

I brown everything over high heat for three minutes.

Caption 24, JB La ratatouille

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After browning (faire revenir) everything, JB turns down the heat to mijoter (simmer) his ratatouille:


Je laisse encore mijoter pour une quinzaine de minutes.

I let it simmer again for fifteen minutes or so.

Captions 38-39, JB La ratatouille

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You'll often see mijoter or its synonym, mitonner, in the expression mijoter/mitonner de bons petits plats, which translates as “cooking up nice little dishes." Yet no expression in English quite conveys the love, care, and time that goes into mijoter/mitonner des bons petits plats, which is exactly what the chef and his staff are doing in the video below:


En effet, le chef et l'équipe de cuisine s'emploient à leur mitonner de bons petits plats chaque jour.

Indeed, the chef and the kitchen staff are working on cooking up nice little dishes for them every day.

Caption 22, TV Tours Défendre les fromages au lait cru

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If spending hours in the kitchen is not for you, you can resort to le micro-ondes (the microvave). The grandmother in the video below needs a little technical help with son micro-ondes (her microwave):


Rien... savoir comment marcher le micro-ondes.

Nothing... just how to work the microwave.

Caption 66, Le Jour où tout a basculé Mes grands-parents sont infidèles - Part 7

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The word “microwave” only exists as a noun in French. If you want “to microwave," you have to again resort to the construction cuire + noun: cuire/faire cuire au micro-ondes (literally, "to cook in the microwave”):


Faire cuire au micro-ondes 5 à 10 minutes suivant la puissance du four. Mélanger.

Microwave for 5 to 10 minutes depending on the oven. Mix.


In conclusion, whatever cooking method you may prefer, you’re likely to use the verb cuire (to cook). Yabla cooking videos will help you mijoter de bons petits plats (cook up nice little dishes) while learning French. Thank you for spending time in our Yabla “kitchen”! Stay tuned for another lesson on kitchen-related vocabulary. 


À vos fourneaux! (Get cooking!)