Doesn't "Tu t'appelles Laura" mean 'You call yourself Laura' ?

Kwiziq community member

14 December 2015

3 replies

Doesn't "Tu t'appelles Laura" mean 'You call yourself Laura' ?

This question marked the answer 'You call yourself Laura' as incorrect. This is the literal translation. The option 'Your name is Laura' was also an option, but I saw 'You call yourself Laura' first and thus chose that option. This question needs to accept both or remove one or the other to avoid confusion. Thanks, Matt

This relates to:
Saying your name: Je m'appelle, Tu t'appelles, Vous vous appelez -

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

14 December 2015

14/12/15

Bonjour Matt,

This is a very interesting (and often asked) question!

The fact is that even though the construction of the verb "s'appeler" is similar to the expression "to call oneself" in English, "Je m'appelle" can never mean "I call myself" in French, in the same way as "J'ai cinq ans" (on its own) never means "I have five years.".

If you wanted to say "I call myself Danny" (i.e. that's the name I give myself), in French you would use the following expression: Je me fais appeler Danny.

The reason we keep the two options in our question is specifically to address that transference error that is one of the most natural (therefore trickiest) to make between French and English.

I hope that's helpful.

A bientôt !

Joseph

Kwiziq community member

27 January 2018

27/01/18

I know this response is 2 years old, but your response is incorrect. There are two ways to translate something, litterally and figuratively. Understanding both is important, as the literal translation can give insight into the thought process and culture that created the language. You give both the figurative and literal translations as options, with no direction as to which answer you are looking for which would make many assume you want the literal as there are other ways to translate "My name is..." such as "Mon prenom est..." or "Mon nom est..." Also your statement that "Je m'appelle" can never mean "I call myself" is incorrect. While the English phrase "I call myself" could imply that my given name is something different, it does not mean it is so. I could easily state "I call myself Joe", which is my given name, and the statement would be completely grammatically correct. That may not be the most common use, but it is a valid use of that phrase.

Éric

Kwiziq community member

9 August 2018

9/08/18

I think it should be made clear that both you and Aurélie have valid points. It would be grammatically correct to say "I call myself..." and use your given name but I think the point she was making is that it would be unnatural; I personally can’t think of an instance where someone’s used that in natural conversation. If you were translating professionally, for example, you would only ever translate « Je m’appelle... » as "My name is..." and not "I call myself".

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