French Made Easy

Thats my favourite word Catharine. Despite studying French from the age of 6 at a progressive school in London, I never got past a certain point. When we moved here I still had my schoolgirl French, whereas my husband had forged ahead studying it for 5 years before we moved out and is very good with the grammar too. He studied French with the open university for a year to boot.

Despite all of his efforts we discovered most locals, artisans, neighbours seem to speak directly to me rather than him, we realised at some point its because I tend to use certain phrases and words (love Boff)! and am great with hand use and the expelling of air...'poooouf'. It seems people feel more comfortable with my simple nodding and facial expressions than his perfect Parisian French phrasing and grammar.

I'm still a little puzzled about this accident at birth Simon. Did you speak English in utero and when delivered were dropped on your head resulting in an instant conversion to francophonie?


We have a group here called "Olav H", great wordplay:-)

"Oh la vache!" means a sort of "well I never". It's quite quaint. These days maybe OMG. Mr Welsh grandfather NEVER SWORE or used non chapel words. His worst expression was "Oh! Heck!" Times have rather changed and the passenger on a London omnibus has to listen, whether they like it or not, to an incessant stream of filth from their fellow travellers. GANGSTA and OTHER ARGOT. Sometimes it's fortunate that one understands little. My nicest of all memories of travelling by Underground in London was perceiving that my elderly neighbour was reading an even older leather bound tome. Closer peeking revealed the Psalms. Most carefully and without wishing to disturb the delighful reverie I managed to determine the identity of the gentleman. Lord Longford no less. Another of my interminable but true ramblings. In my dotage I have returned to reading the Psalms as well. Rosbif is fine and conjours Falstaffian images, Agincourt, Crecy.......

macarel !!!

And the polite version of merde -- merrrrrcredi :-)

c'est kif kif, c'est kif kiff bourricot, c'est kif kif la bourricot - oui c'est bien ça, Terry ;-)

I always start with... " parle francaise comme une vache espagnol.........." Always breaks the ice and raises a laugh.

And not forgetting...



Bien sur

kif kif bourricot, Andrew? Or am I making that one up?

c'est kif kif ;-)

C'est pareille!

I think that is the correct spelling in the context as: It is the same [as something else].

Here in Brittany:


Oh la vache!

Eh bah ouier! (as said but no local will admit to it's usage)

Vous rigolez, non?

Ce n'est pas la peine!

Putain or pute (not in the sense of sexual activity)

and of course etranger (somebody who is not a cousin, school colleague or very close friend)

Allez oop!

Pigeon (sometimes used for British expat)

Le fairplay (expected of pigeons)

C'est vachement bien. My french boyfriend jokes I have created an enormous Petit Robert de Kiwi. If I don't know a word I use an English one and franchicise it. Sometimes it actually gets me the right word but everyone can understand. I insist that the French language should include the words fortitude and expectations.

Still, I'd prefer to use the right words. I know enough French now to know I need a serious amount more. I have enough to get myself into strife. They think I speak French and understand everything. Then when I say doucement s'il vous plait, they can't believe it and think I'm being lazy and off they go again like machine guns. J'en ai marre de ca.

One of the most useful words I found when I first arrived was the word -'le truc' or 'le machin' meaning 'the thinggy' or 'the whatsit' then go on to describe what it does or what you want to use it for. It got me out of a lot of holes then and still does today actually.

Having had to go to solfege classes here to learn the saxophone, I can empathise ! Not to mention all the wind instruments that have their notation scaled differently because the French use a different base note!


Isn't it, “Put wood in th'oil "? My wife's Dad was a Yorkshire miner ! When we were in London he said the beer was like" watter" rhyming with clatter. :-)

Simon, do not bring verbs into this - my rule for futurising a word is to stick an "r" in it somewhere towards the end and hoping that it works.

For me, there is more than one language here.

Firstly there is the amount of French needed to go to restaurants and to go shopping. Not too difficult.

Then there is the French needed once you start gardening and need someone to sharpen the chain on your chain saw.

Then you get to cars and the language required to understand what they are saying is wrong, with what, and how much it is going to cost to fix it.

Finally, I conduct a French choir and having to learn the language for that has been fun - even if the Italian words for a lot of it are international. The French learn their music under the solfege system which is totally different to the way music is taught in British schools.

Never mind, I am told that all this is keeping alzheimers at bay!

Bien sûr

Je comprends et j'accepte

Je ne comprends pas ou d'accord