Once again I lay out some of my funniest French mistakes for your reading pleasure. Check out my first blog post about this for more anecdotes.
The ‘Franglais’ is getting out of control at our apartment! Cyril has trouble keeping English and French straight when he talks to me. When he speaks French he sometimes throws in random English words. When he does this I have to stop him to ask, ‘Can you really use that word in French??’ They do borrow a lot of our words, so I can’t dismiss every English word he uses as wrong.
And now French is creeping into his English. Recently Cyril said jokingly, ‘I’m never going to douche again!’ He meant shower. (se doucher=to shower)
So then I get confused and slip up too. One time I said, ‘On va être la bientôt-ish‘, a translation of ‘we are going to be there soon-ish’, but you can’t add ish to the end of a french word.
Smell and feel are the same verb in French. This provides ample opportunities for me to make a fool of myself. One time Cyril and I were talking about a hypothetical ethical situation and I said, ‘I would smell bad if I did that!‘, I meant, ‘I would feel bad if I did that!‘
7 months after I started living here I realized there is a difference between ‘province‘ the word that Parisians use to designate everywhere in France outside of the Paris region, and ‘Provence‘ a specific region in the south of France famous for growing lavender. Before I knew the difference I thought it was weird that Parisians thought cities like Strasbourg were in the Provence region- stupid Parisians! Even so, I find the fact that there is a word to designate everything outside of Paris very telling about the Parisian pysche…
For a long time I also didn’t realize there was a difference between ‘baignoire‘, the word for bathtub, and ‘bagnole‘, a slang word for car. I thought it was strange that everyone referred to their cars as tubs but I never really questioned it.
One day at Cyril’s aunt’s house I was confused by the bathroom set-up. I asked Cyril, ‘Am I supposed to shower in the car?‘ He was utterly confused.
Now I know the difference!
For my French lessons I once wrote a whole essay about why we shouldn’t do away with grades at school when the prompt was actually about whether or not we should ban brand clothes at school. *face palm* (Marques vs notes).
Once at Cyril’s mom’s house, I was helping his mom put away everything after a long meal. I took a bottle of rum and told her I would put it in the ‘cabinet‘. She laughed hard and explained that in France a cabinet is either a small bathroom or another word for an office, as in ‘cabinet medical‘ (doctor’s office). So basically I sounded like an alcoholic. (Let me just put the bottle of rum in the bathroom!!)
We were over at a friend’s new apartment and he was overly proud of his new kitchen organization gadgets. I made fun of him by saying, ‘il est trop domestique!’ A direct translation of ‘he is so domestic!’ Except in French ‘domestic’ is used to talk about animals that are house pets.
When Cyril and I were back in the US last month, we saw some French friends in St. Louis and visited the Missouri botanical gardens together, where I told them ‘It is too hot for Japanese Arabs here!‘
I meant Japanese maples… (Arabes vs érables)
Then two minutes later I was telling them about how my friend does ‘management‘ at the post office. (At least that is what I meant.) Our pregnant friend laughed and pointed to her belly, ‘I’m doing ‘gestation’, do you mean ‘gestion’?’
Sometimes my mistakes make me seem sassier than I am. Recently Cyril asked me where the iPhone charger was. I told him, ‘It’s somewhere on Earth!‘ I meant to say, ‘It’s somewhere on the floor!‘ (sur terre vs par terre) Those stupid prepositions get me every time!
And last but not least!
Once I tried a candy at a market and Cyril asked me if I liked it. ‘I don’t know, it kinda tastes like doctor!‘
I meant to say medicine of course:) Doctor=médecin Medicine=médicament
(photo credit:Amy Rohrer)