Monday, February 7, 2011

Don't Get Your ZiZi Confused with Your Zezette

It happened, like some things do, in a coincidental way.

On the way home from tennis last week the Middlest's racket accidentally made contact with his 'you-know-what'. In Ireland they call it a 'willy' so that's usually what he would say. Something like, 'ah, my willy!'

However, on this occasion he said something different. He said, 'ah, mon zizi!' I'd been told that baby boy willies are called 'un petit oiseau' or 'little birdie' here which I find incredibly cute. So cute in fact that I probably say it far too often. The Baby refers to his this way now.
But this was the first time I'd heard 'zizi'.
And I'm glad I did because I would have missed out on the following......

Later that afternoon as we did homework I noticed Ma Fille's library book in her bag. The title caught my eye. 'Does that say what I think it says?', thought I.
I had a closer look. The title was Mademoiselle Zazie a-t-elle un zizi? Now normally I wouldn't have paid much attention but a 'zizi'?! I know what a 'zizi' is and I don't think Mademoiselle Zazie could possibly have one. Unless this is some kind of Frenchie way to teach a transgender/transexual/hermaphrodite lesson. I had to have a closer look.

The story starts with Max, a little boy who knows that from the beginning of time there are those avec zizi and the other poor suckers who are sans zizi. He's always believed the avec zizi are stronger and better and that's just the way life is. He actually feels a bit sorry for the sans zizi.

Then Mademoiselle Zazie moves to town and she can do all kinds of cool things that Max thought sans zizi couldn't do.
The story is adorable and the illustrations of bums very innocent and funny.

Turns out, after some investigative work on Max's part and a fortuitous day at the beach when Zazie and Max forget their swimsuits, that the sans zizi may be without a zizi but what they do have is a 'zezette'. And that seems to be just as good. If only a little different.

I had a look online for the story in English but couldn't find it. Maybe the French think we Anglophones couldn't handle all this private talk. Word on the street is we're prudes. Or maybe it's just that zizi et zezette are too cute to translate.

They are making a French cartoon from the book series which should be interesting to see.
You can find all the books here. Have a look and test your French. It seems to be perfectly on my level, both in terms of maturity and French comprehension.

How many times can I say 'zizi' in one post?
Vive le zizi! Or the zezette.


  1. And what about 'kiki'? My Texas friend was here this summer with her mother, Kiki, and Kiki turned bright red when my husband told her that in France, a 'kiki' is a little boys 'willy' (my Irish side will always have me saying 'willy'!)
    (and I may or may not be spelling kiki correctly).

  2. And I bet all those years ago back in Texas you never thought you'd have a son that'd say, "Ah, mon zizi!" x

  3. you're totally right about that! but i wouldnt' have thought he'd call it a willy either. never heard kiki. is that on par with fanny? all these things can get embarrassingly muddled.

  4. Ha ha ha, this is hilarious...& here I thought zizi might refer to a specific shape of pasta :) Good thing you saved me from the ever-embarrassing, "Can you pass me the zizi?" at the next dinner party!
    Simply another reason to love the French, priceless :)

  5. tuula,
    baked zizi anyone?

  6. I know what a zizi is because I was once in a karoake bar in Reims, and someone was dressed up as a "zizi". Yup! Couldn't believe it was FRANCE!

    I always think it's funny that I can remember exactly the moment when I learned a certain word! Memories associated with language!

  7. Brenna,
    that is something that should never happen. although now i'm strangely intrigued and am picturing this zizi costume in my nutty head.

    you'll never forget that one. that's for sure.

  8. zizi and kiki are used daily in my house with an eleven year old and a thirteen-year-old. In fact, the boy loves to insult the girl by calling her a grosse kiki!

  9. Hilarious!! What an adventure discovering the language through your children! You can also say "ta tush" for zazette. Too funny, am laughing away ....


  10. Fine. I used 'zizi' at least 8 times here But IN MY DEFENSE it was written on a statue in Montpellier and I was demonstrating pronoun placement. In the name of education.

  11. Samantha & Charley,
    so a kiki IS an english fanny and an american fanny is a bum. and a bum is an american tush and apparently a tush is a french kiki.
    full circle people.

    off to read....i have to hear the 'repatriation' story. and find out if you're coming back!

    thanks everyone for some great immature fun today!

    a xo

  12. May I continue on the immature fun and ask you if the book also refers to 'zizi-panpan'?

  13. Blandina,
    It doesn't. but now you have to tell us. is a panpan a ding ding or a kiki?

  14. My dear, my English fails me...a zizi-panpan happens when a zizi visits a would you say this in English?

  15. oh my! i can't stop giggling Blandina!
    chica, chica, woww, wowww would be one way.
    maybe some of the others can contribute to your underground english too.
    and no, the book didn't refer to 'a meeting of the minds' if you will.
    so funny,
    a x


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