Idiomatic English

LucienC1Kwiziq community member

Idiomatic English

The use of 'many' is unidiomatic and characteristic of language lessons, rather than of spoken English. As this is a French lesson, not an English one, you may not regard this as critical. However, 'I have read many books' and 'He sent me many flowers' sound uncomfortably like translations from French or sentences spoken in fiction by a stereotypical francophone character. I would suggest that a native speaker would be more likely to say e.g. 'I have read a lot of books' or 'He sent me lots of flowers'. Yes, these are less direct translations of the French wording, but too much language tuition across all media has been and continues to be based on unidiomatic explanations and translations, not to mention the deployment of idiomatic expressions which no one has used for half a century.

Asked 1 year ago
CélineKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Bonjour Lucien,

Thank you both for your comment and feedback! It has been passed on to the French language team and the examples in the lesson regarding 'de nombreux/nombreuses' have been amended ;-)

Merci et bonne journée !

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Lucien, you need to consider the register of English as well. The use of "a lot of" belongs to a more colloquial level of English. And while it is perfectly fine and much more common to hear "I read a lot of books" in a familiar setting, you would use "many" in a more formal speech or article. 

I have read a lot of books. -- lower register English
I have read many books. -- higher register English

So, in the case of the books, I disagree with you. Concerning the flowers, however, I tend to agree with you. "I received many flowers" does sound stilted and unnatural even at an elevated register of English. It suggests a focus on the individual flower, which isn't what the speaker intends. You could, however, say, "I received many white flowers but only a few red ones." Here it is perfectly fine.

The upshot, however, is that the English isn't the focus of the lessons. The English is provided to give access to the French. As such, it isn't a translation and shouldn't be held to the same standards. It is a way to illustrate the French.

Idiomatic English

The use of 'many' is unidiomatic and characteristic of language lessons, rather than of spoken English. As this is a French lesson, not an English one, you may not regard this as critical. However, 'I have read many books' and 'He sent me many flowers' sound uncomfortably like translations from French or sentences spoken in fiction by a stereotypical francophone character. I would suggest that a native speaker would be more likely to say e.g. 'I have read a lot of books' or 'He sent me lots of flowers'. Yes, these are less direct translations of the French wording, but too much language tuition across all media has been and continues to be based on unidiomatic explanations and translations, not to mention the deployment of idiomatic expressions which no one has used for half a century.

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