Concerning « préoccupations » vs. “concerns”

15 Mar

There is reason to be concerned about the potential misuse of false-cognates in French and English. They are a daily occurrence in my life, and because I concentrate on interpreting meaning-for-meaning, I have gotten used to them. And sometimes, there are not faux-amis per se, but just different usage for the derived terms of a word…

English: First page of the Sixth Edition of th...

Cover of the 6th edition of the French Academy Dictionary | Image via Wikipedia

I thought I should cover this word, after I read an article about correct usage for the expression “être concerné par”. According to the French Academy, it should either be “Vous êtes directement touché par cette mesure” (You are directly affected by that measure.) or, in the active form: “Cette mesure vous concerne directement” (That measure concerns you directly.).


From Medieval Latin concernere (“to distinguish, to have respect to”), combined form of con- + cernō (“distinguish”)

But somehow, the meaning evolved from being distinguished to:

// Concern // (countable and uncountable; plural concerns)

1. That which affects one’s welfare or happiness

2. The expression of solicitude, anxiety, or compassion toward a thing or person.

That word is usually translated in French as “soucis” (worries) or “préoccupations”. In fact, I use it dozens of times a day at the end of a customer service call:

–          Are there any other questions or concerns I can help you with?

–          Aviez-vous d’autres questions ou préoccupations auxquelles je peux répondre ?

// Concerner // transitive 1st group verb

Def. Toucher, intéresser sous tel ou tel rapport en parlant des choses.
ex. Cela concerne vos intérêts. // This concerns your interests.
      Cette affaire concerne chacun de nous. // This matter involves each of us.

English: To concern (be concerned with – note that this form is criticized in French as “être concerné par” as noted above), be associated with).

Derived expression: en ce qui me concerne // as far as I am concerned

// Concerné // adj.

Le compte-rendu de la dernière réunion du conseil d’administration sera envoyé à toutes les parties concernées. // The report of the last board meeting will be sent to all interested (or: concerned) parties.

So the main difference is with the nominal form… Well, yesterday felt like a Thursday and today day has felt like a Friday, I am going to be disappointed when I realize I have to work tomorrow morning! Happy (rest of your) Thursday!

(Source for definitions: Wiktionary; Académie française)


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