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Talking the lingo in Rio: Chatting with your new French speaking friends about triathlon

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This article is a series of language learning posts by ParaSport News.  The goal is to provide sport fans some very basic sport and Paralympic vocabulary so you can talk with the world about disability sport at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio.


France is a traditional Paralympic power, ranking fourth all time in total medals.  Canada, which has its own sizable French speaking population, ranks right behind them at fifth.  Having a few words of French will serve you well in Rio as a sport fan.  In addition, there are 77 million native speakers world wide, and an additional 140 million people have some degree of fluency with the language. French speakers are everywhere, including Albania, Algergia, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa, Côte d’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Egypt, Gabon, Finland, Guinea, Germany, Guinea-Bissau, Italy, Luxembourg, Lebanon, Madagascar, Mauritius, Morocco, Netherlands, Niger, Romania, Switzerland, Togo, Vanuatu.  If you want to practice your French, you should easily be able to find some one to speak with in Rio.

General disability words:

  • Ataxie – Ataxia
  • Athétose – Athetosis
  • Infirmité motrice cérébrale – Cerebral palsy
  • Cache-œil – Eyepatch
  • Hypertonie musculaire – Hypertonia
  • Malvoyant – Low vision
  • Dystrophie musculaire – Muscular dystrophy
  • Sclérose en plaques – Multiple sclerosis
  • Déficience visuelle – Vision loss
  • Trouble de la vision – visual impairment

Sport specific words:

  • entraîneurs – Coaches
  • Disqualifié – disqualified
  • Handisport – Disability sport
  • Coupe d’Europe – European Cup
  • match – Game
  • l’or – Gold
  • Jeux paralympiques – Paralympic Games
  • blessées – Injured
  • Photo-finish – Photo finish
  • résultats  – Results
  • Équipe – Team
  • tournoi – tournament

General useful phrases:

  • félicitations – Congraulations
  • Fréquence cardiaque – heart rate
  • Il fait chaud. – It’s hot.
  • Il fait froid. – It’s cold.
  • Il fait très chaud. – It’s very hot.
  • Il fait très froid. – It’s very cold.
  • Il y a du soleil. – It’s sunny.
  • Il y a du vent. – It’s windy.
  • Il neige. – It’s snowing.
  • Il gèle. – It’s freezing over.
  • Il pleut. – It’s raining.

Country specific words:

  • Danemark – Denmark
  • Italie – Italy
  • Mexico – Mexico
  • Portugal – Portugal
  • Espagne – Spain


Triathlon specific words:

This sport makes its debut at the 2016 Summer Paralympics.  With words from swimming, athletics and cycling, knowing a few terms here can take you a long way with other sports.

  • Triathlon – Triathlon
  • Épreuves sportives combinées – Multisport race
  • Fédération internationale de triathlon – International Triathlon Union
  • Course à pied – Running
  • Cyclisme – Cycling
  • Natation – Swimming
  • Ironman – Ironman
  • Marathon – Marathon
  • Séries mondiales de triathlon – ITU World Triathlon Series
  • Vélocimane – Handcycle
  • Bonnet de bain – Swim cap
  • Poste de secours – Aid station
  • Bouée – Buoy
  • Chaussure de sport – Athletic shoe
  • Guidon – Bicycle handlebar


Laura Hale
About Laura Hale (2533 Articles)
Laura Hale is a sport journalist, specializing in Paralympic and disability sport news. Prior to helping found ParaSport-News, she spent two and a half years working as a journalist on Wikinews, a citizen journalism site. As a journalist, she has covered the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London, the 2013 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in La Molina, the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, and a number of other sporting events. She has additional experience with Paralympic sport having worked as a Wikipedian in Residence for the Australian and Spanish Paralympic Committees.

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