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Discussion Starter #1
Here’s the scene:

My French wife is driving. She gets behind some septuagenarian driving like a herd of turtles. My wife, who drives like she’s doing the final lap at Le Mans, let’s out with one of her favorite expressions, “achetez un âne” (Buy a donkey!).
:car:

I’m thinking, since the French are so fond of language, they surely must have hundreds of colorful expressions such as the example above that you’ll never hear at the Berlitz Language School. :eek:

When I was in Germany, the word “Geil” (cool, great) was in vogue among the young people..:cool: If something was supercool, the term “Sau-geil”, was applied. Sau is pronounced the same as sow in English and has the same meaning. It should be explained that the Germans have a special fondness for pigs and if one has “schwein”, one has had a streak of good fortune. :flypig: ( I'm hoping Germany wins the World Cup).

Since I’m always looking to expand my French language horizens, I’d be interested in learning some more of these colorful quaint expressions. What are your favorites? :eyebrows:

Merci - Jeff
 

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Here’s the scene:
Since I’m always looking to expand my French language horizens, I’d be interested in learning some more of these colorful quaint expressions. What are your favorites? :eyebrows:

Merci - Jeff
You may want to look at this site Les expressions françaises décortiquées - Accueil

You can just browse or you can register, in which case you can post things (I sometimes offer English equivalent expressions) or sign up for the weekly roundup e-mail.

I just love the site.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the site Claire. I'll check it out in detail. I did notice that the expression "avoir du sex appeal" was included. More of our English expressions creeping in.

And while were on that topic Leo, while the word "geil" does mean horny, the kids in Germany were using it as a synonym for cool. In fact, the appliance chain Saturn, used the term as part of their advertising; "Saturn ist Geil". The morale of the story is, word meanings change over time. Thanks for pointing that out.

Cheers - Jeff :)
 

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I still get a kick out of the name for the official traffic monitoring agency here in France: Bison futé - literally "the clever bison."
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I still get a kick out of the name for the official traffic monitoring agency here in France: Bison futé - literally "the clever bison."
Cheers,
Bev
I suppose the name comes from bison being clever in knowing the best route to take. To tell the truth, I haven't seen any bison around here. That's because the last wild one in France was killed in the 8th century (Google wisent). What I'd like to know is if they were so clever, how come they're all extinct? :lol:

I did actually see a small herd of them in Germany near Kaiserslautern being raised on a farm. I thought they were American bison or buffalo; now I know they were wisent (not sure what the English plural is).

Today's trivia. The name "buffalo" for the American Bison was coined by French trappers and comes from the French word "boeuf". The French have a tendency to name domestic animals once they are on the plate (pig/porc, sheep/mouton, etc.)

Cheers, Jeff ;)
 

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Whilst on the topic of foreign words, can anyone please explain what a "preservatif" is supposed to preserve ?
 
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Often embarrassingly confused... the term English-speakers are often trying to translate, in cookery terms, is preservative - which is conservateur in French, not préservatif (condom!!)...
 
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I suppose the name comes from bison being clever in knowing the best route to take. To tell the truth, I haven't seen any bison around here. That's because the last wild one in France was killed in the 8th century (Google wisent). What I'd like to know is if they were so clever, how come they're all extinct? :lol:

I did actually see a small herd of them in Germany near Kaiserslautern being raised on a farm. I thought they were American bison or buffalo; now I know they were wisent (not sure what the English plural is).
The name actually came from the parallel with Native Americans and their tracking abilities, according to the Bison Futé site!

L’objectif est d’incarner l’information routière et de la rendre dynamique et sympathique. C’est pourquoi la mascotte doit être identifiable par tous. Les hésitations sont passées sur le dauphin, vif et intelligent, la girafe, « Ginette », sensée dominer la situation, un oiseau « Timothée voit loin » avec de grosses jumelles, une tortue, un lapin, le rat des villes et le rat des champs… Mais c’est l’indien qui s’est imposé car il répond parfaitement aux préoccupations qui sont les nôtres : illustration du meilleur pisteur sur les itinéraires bis. Indien subtil, sioux, adroit, débrouillard, en un mot « futé ». L’opération est un grand succès. Dès les premiers tam-tams et les conseils donnés, la réaction des automobilistes est très positive. Tout le monde se sent Bison Futé.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
The name actually came from the parallel with Native Americans and their tracking abilities, according to the Bison Futé site!
Perhaps they should have named it the "Sioux Fute" as the bison isn't the one demonstrating cleverness :D. Indians have been used as symbols before. In the First World War, the American volunteer Lafayette Escadrille used the Indian Chief head as the squadron's emblem and painted it on their aircraft as a symbol of bravery and ferocity. In heraldry, they used to use the Moor's Head to symbolize these attributes.

"Whilst on the topic of foreign words, can anyone please explain what a "preservatif" is supposed to preserve ?

The preservatif is of course preserving the state of non-pregnancy! :laugh:

OK....I'll stop. Jeff
 
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Perhaps they should have named it the "Sioux Fute" as the bison isn't the one demonstrating cleverness :D.
Indeed - I don't know how closely related bison and buffalo are, but the latter term in SE Asia is used to describe a particularly stupid person.. of which hordes seem to end up in gigantic traffic jams every Saturday at this time of year, throughout France.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Indeed - I don't know how closely related bison and buffalo are, but the latter term in SE Asia is used to describe a particularly stupid person.. of which hordes seem to end up in gigantic traffic jams every Saturday at this time of year, throughout France.
And while we're on the subject of stupid animals with hooves, the author Bill Bryson said that calling someone a cow in French was a grave insult and calling someone an "espèces de vaches" was particularly insulting.

I've never heard this used here so I checked with a subject matter expert, my niece's 13 year old friend to see if there were any truth to this. The indication is no. All the French kids do seem to know the "F" word!:eek: With what little English they speak, wouldn't you know this would be one of the words they know.

Living 20 years in Germany, I never heard the term "schweinehund" used. They used other colorful expressions such as "mist kerl"! :eyebrows:

Cheers
Jeff
 

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Hmm; thanks guys :)
 

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Maybe it's regional, but around here you don't want to be calling anyone "une vache" - though it's more like the Brits calling someone a "stupid cow." Now, in my experience here, an "espèce de" anything is normally NOT a compliment!

The local gang of motorbike riders (I refer to them as "Hell's Belles") knows a few English swear words but they swear like a bunch of 10 year old girls in English. I have considered giving lessons, but I'm not sure it's worth my time and effort.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Maybe it's regional, but around here you don't want to be calling anyone "une vache" - though it's more like the Brits calling someone a "stupid cow." Now, in my experience here, an "espèce de" anything is normally NOT a compliment!

The local gang of motorbike riders (I refer to them as "Hell's Belles") knows a few English swear words but they swear like a bunch of 10 year old girls in English. I have considered giving lessons, but I'm not sure it's worth my time and effort.
Cheers,
Bev
Why contribute to the delinquency of minors? :)

Speaking of les vache, my sister-in-law had her daughter's last name legally changed (daughter kept the father's name; as there was no marriage). Her last name was Vachier (not sure I spelled it right.)

The reason the name was changed is because if you say "Vachier" slowly, it means something they will never teach you in Berlitz. True story ::embarassed:

Cheers - Jeff
 

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The reason the name was changed is because if you say "Vachier" slowly, it means something they will never teach you in Berlitz. True story
:embarassed::embarassed::embarassed: Good one, though! Methinks, however, that Berlitz is not doing their job if they aren't teaching folks some basic body function crudités.

Back when the World Cup was in France, there was a program of activities for the football widows (including the Chippendales appearing in Paris!) that was called "Allez vous en foot" - which wasn't half as funny if you didn't know the rude homonym.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter #17
:embarassed::embarassed::embarassed: Good one, though! Methinks, however, that Berlitz is not doing their job if they aren't teaching folks some basic body function crudités.

Back when the World Cup was in France, there was a program of activities for the football widows (including the Chippendales appearing in Paris!) that was called "Allez vous en foot" - which wasn't half as funny if you didn't know the rude homonym.
Cheers,
Bev
I did find the word "fût" in my dictionary and one definition given was "shaft", so I think I can figure that one out. :lol:

The reason they changed my niece's name was because she was taking a lot of abuse from the kids at school. Some kids you would just like to strangle. This brings up another topic. In the US, we have lots of expressions for "kicking the bucket". Got anything like that in France? :noidea:

Jeff
 
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:embarassed::embarassed::embarassed: Good one, though! Methinks, however, that Berlitz is not doing their job if they aren't teaching folks some basic body function crudités.
:yuck: That's got me wondering about what some restaurants put in their vinaigrette sauce... I may have trouble swallowing my next dish of grated raw veg, so long as that image sticks in my mind......
 
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The reason they changed my niece's name was because she was taking a lot of abuse from the kids at school. Some kids you would just like to strangle. This brings up another topic. In the US, we have lots of expressions for "kicking the bucket". Got anything like that in France? :noidea:

Jeff
Can't think of anything quite so picturesque as an expression, but canner, clamser, claquer, crever. claboter, passer l'arme à gauche, are a few slang equivalents (the latter a military expression obviously, dating back to the days when after firing, the weapon was passed to the left hand while the laborious reloading process took place... during which time the soldier was particularly vulnerable and therefore close to death).
 

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Discussion Starter #20
passer l'arme à gauche[/I], are a few slang equivalents (the latter a military expression obviously, dating back to the days when after firing, the weapon was passed to the left hand while the laborious reloading process took place... during which time the soldier was particularly vulnerable and therefore close to death).
Guess I can understand that as you have to stand up to reload a muzzle loader due to the length of the weapon and present a nice target to the enemy. Although breech loaders were available during the Civil War and were issued to the Union cavalry, they were rejected by the War Department for infantry use as the Department, in their infinite wisdom, felt the infantry would waste too many bullets. :confused2:
 
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