Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Faux Pas

Last night P-Daddy and I were pinching ourselves, as we usually do, surprised and delighted to find ourselves living in France with all this sunshine. As we braced ourselves for the onslaught that is the evening news in French, he made a wonderful point. If we were in a country where they speak English it wouldn't be nearly as much fun.

It is fun. And challenging, and frustrating, and amazing to learn a new language. And being here, where it is real every single day, makes it even more of all those things. 

I went through our new house with the landlords, their agent, and mine yesterday. It was one of those moments where I felt lost. As the four of them spoke in rapid fire French, usually all at the same time, I listened; my face scrunched up in concentration. I caught the gist of it based on context—le jardin, le chiminée. I also got some of the usual words peppered throughout the conversation—peut-être, donc, bien sûr. But as far as the whole of the thing, I was utterly en mer(de).

But something else happened too. Usually we're the ones worried about saying the wrong or inappropriate thing when speaking French. I don't want to say the 'wine' is blowing when I mean the 'wind' or my 'wife' instead of my 'husband'. 
Well. Yesterday, Madame did the same thing, only in English. She said that my little baby with all the white hair and chubby cheeks was, "as big as a house." He is a big kid, no doubt, and everyone comments on how grand he is but in this case the expression didn't match the context. 

Babies aren't as big as a house. We three English speakers cringed. I laughed and said, "Yes, he is a big boy." Just like anyone else would do. 

And just like I hope the French person I'm sure to unintentionally offend will do. 

Because you know it's going to happen.



  1. Just as long as you don't talk to a man about a horse you should be fine. :)

  2. Abby,
    That's so funny, sorry but it's one of the best ever. I hope the 650 million the US lost during this ash fiasco doesn't make your tickets more expensive.
    A x


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