One of the first sentences I (like many others, I suspect) can remember learning, probably around the age of 3 or 4, before even going to school, is this: “The cat sat on the mat.” Google Translate suggests: “Le chat s’est assis sur le tapis.” Again, good try Google. But try remembering that 50-odd years from now. You could argue about the tense and even the choice of noun (is “mat” really “tapis”?) But the main point is that Google can’t see that it’s a mnemonic, made up of rhyming monosyllables, and that the best solution is to change the species, which is what French does, in the children’s rhyme, “Il était une souris qui mangeait du riz sur un tapis gris…” (There once was a mouse who was eating rice on a grey carpet…) Now that I can remember. (And it goes on, “Et sa maman lui dit, ce n’est pas gentil de manger du riz sur un tapis gris.”)
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