Indeed the translation is not litteral so it may look weird to translate "Bon courage" with "Good luck".
Actually, "Bon courage" is an extremely common expression (French native) and I cannot find any equivalent in English: I haven't heard "Be brave" that often.. Is it common?
"Bon courage!" and "Bonne chance! " in French are used very often, with a close meaning and in similar situations.
Here are some examples:
" Tu as ton examen dans 10 minutes, bon courage! "
" Vous vous êtes inscrites au semi-marathon, bon courage! "
In both examples, "Bon courage" could have been replaced by "Bonne chance". The only difference is that "Bonne chance" is more based on random things, whereas "Bon courage" insists more on a personnal effort to achieve the goal.
J.Franchomme, you are right, English speakers rarely say "be Brave" ('have courage", "be not afraid" maybe..) but we make up for that with a bucketload of (irony) idiomatic phrases (some more profane than others), like "stiff upper lip" and "sac up". Meaning the same thing but coming at it from another direction we exhort people to "don't be a chicken-shi," what are ya, a man or a mouse?" "Don't pusy out" So, English speakers, all in, we're kinda jerks about the bravery thing, n'est pas?
Hey Kim, just curious. In your astute comment to JFranchomme, you mention similar English comments -- 'stiff upper lip,' 'sac up,' 'don't ❤❤❤❤❤ out.' These are not part of my English usage (NY, USA), so I wondered if you might be une vraie anglaise, as suggested by 'stiff upper lip.' (I might use 'don't be a ❤❤❤❤❤.' but I've never heard of 'sac up.' Is it used in England, If not, where?
I briefly lived in Paris years ago, and used to run around the lake in the Bois de Boulogne (beautiful). Whenever runners/joggers see each other there (especially someone on their own), they always call out "Bon Courage!", or sometimes just "Courage!". Caught me by surprise the first time, but I always joined in after that. What lovely encouragement between strangers.
The English equivalent would be "You can do it!", but it's rare for us to call out to strangers like that. Perhaps we would if we had a more eloquent phrase like "Bon Courage!". I think we need to steal this one for situations like that...
I received "bon courage" in a message today. (Long story short: we're at JFK for six hours so far, and will be here another hour. I should be nearly to my destination but because of factors beyond my control, I haven't yet entered an airplane. I will end up getting to my destination tomorrow about 1pm, or 13 hours as the French say, after a night in a Miami hotel on Delta Airline's dime.) After I emailed the woman from whom I'll be renting the condo--a woman who does not speak English--and explained my delay, she wrote me back saying, among other things, "mince" and "bon courage."
I had to look up bon courage. For that matter, I had to look up mince, which I had heretofore only associated with "skinny" (as applied to people) or "thin" (as applied to soup). I did understand the rest of her message, thanks in some measure to duolingo.
What I think she meant, exactly, was "hang in there." Despite the fact that I have found many translations of the expression "bon courage" on websites, and none of them said "hang in there," I think from the context of her message that this is what she meant, or, more precisely, it is exactly what I'd say in the same situation to express the same wish.
Indeed. I've been able to order food, ask for directions, and make small chat with other tourists. So far, I have heard one couple speaking spanish, one couple speaking portuguese, and no one except us speaking English. Almost everyone here, tourists and locals, are speaking French. (We're in Saint-François, on the island of Guadeloupe, in the leeward islands of the lesser Antilles.)
I have learned that you can't hand someone a ten-euro bill and say "two fives" and expect him to know what you mean. I was at a dive shop and wanted to break a ten and said, "deux cinqs" and he looked at me strangely. Then I repeated myself and he said, "deux cent? Est-ce que vous nous devez déjà de l'argent des plongées précédentes?" Then I said, "non, je veux changer ce billet de dix euros pour deux billets de cinq euros." And he said, "Ah, la, la. deux billets de cinq"
I see, you actually have to say, "two notes of five" and not "two fives" if you want to be understood. Good to know. (for any foreigners reading, in the USA, you can say, "Can I get two fives?" and everyone will know exactly what you mean to say.)
As a special treat, tropical storm Beryl passed overhead last night. Luckily is was a pretty disorganized system and all we had was about 12 hours of wind and rain. Unfortunately what was a beautiful, white, sandy beach yesterday is brown and dirty today, littered with sargassum, jetsam, coconuts, and at least one octopus in decay and beginning to reek.
Good luck in English addresses two different phrases and concepts in French.
If your friend runs a race, you might say "good luck." Here you would use "bon courage." Your friend has an active role in his/her ability to finish the race.
If your friend plays the lottery, you would also say "good luck" in English. In French you would say "bonne chance" because the friend has no way to change the outcome. This is probably closer to the true sense of luck.
My French friend told me that there is a famous line from a movie which goes something like "bon courage et bonne chance." This has become a running joke between us prior to races and tests.
This is a correct and solid interpretation. After many years asking natives and studying the usages of bon courage et bonne chance, good luck in English is usually the highest fidelity translation, although break a leg sure works in certain contexts. Have fun, could even be said equivalently in many contexts. As well, many of the aforementioned VERY familiar, if not vulgar (not moderating, just warning ESL learners) phrases we see above are correct, if very case sensitive. We have idioms coming out our ears...
On the English side, we control a lot of the use for good luck with tone and it is applicable with many situations. Good luck, low and serious, but not grave, for tests; cheery for ice breakers and games; sarcastic for pending situations which are indésirable to either the speaker or the listener. It goes on.