Ooops. Making bubus in France

Arriving in France 10 years ago, with pretty basic French and wet behind my ears, I literally hit the ground running and started working with my sister the very day I arrived in Perpignan's fair city.
I was the lucky sister, as Suzanne had already done all the ground work, bought a property for herself and established a social scene and had started up our business so I just slotted in with her.
Many nights were spent out with her friends with rapid fire french flying while I just sat there, the mute smiling tall one, trying to look interested, nodding here and there, laughing when everyone else laughed, dodging questions with very vague answers ... If you've been there, you'll know how awkward this feels.
The amount of mistakes I made at this time could fill a book, here are a few classics :
While waiting in the queue in Galerie Lafayette ( equivalent of Brown Thomas) I asked a blue rinser "vous etes dans le cul?" Are you in the arse? Rather than "vous faites la queue" Are you in the queue?
How many times did I say "Je suis chaude" I'm hot for it! ,rather than "J'ai chaude" I'm hot ( temperature) during my first long hot summer?
"Je suis plein" does not mean I am full, it means I am pregnant, but usually used for animals.. another gaffe I made regularly until corrected..
There was the time my visiting friend from Ireland asked for an "assiette de chomage" after a meal ( a plate of unemployment)
And the day, on the phone to a client after a long day of exhausting French and English verbal gymnastics, I wished him 'a nice shite' instead of nice flight!!

I once went to the doctor and said: Je suis une mal de gorge. My throat was really inflamed , so I was not into exact verbs and such mere details. He muttered to himself in English, just loud enoud for me to hear "No, you are a pain in the a**e". THose are the only words in English I have ever heard from him. More to the point, I have learned to go directly to the pharmacy with such things which was his real point, as I have also since learned.

When I first arrived at the end of a meal in a French restaurant the waiter asked if were were finished so he could clear the dirty dishes. I answered "Je suis terminée". The waiter smiled and corrected me saying "Vous avez terminée, mais vous etes tourjours vivant". One can learn French at any given moment.

O yeah, and then there was the day I had a massive argument with a French lady on the phone. I think it was one of the mobile operators...until I realised I was arguing with an answer machine!!

Cute, full of the usual mistakes one makes....but abundant desire and ability to overcome & master this quirk filled stubborn culture !

Hi Jean, yes, me too . After going for a walk in the early days with our King Charles, I came home incensed. Some old French Biddy had asked me was our baby a cat or a dog!!!! As if they could mistake him for a cat ... Beh non, my french bro in law explained, "they were asking was it a chien or a chienne" ... Oh right , of course *blush*

Haha Sarah .. bringing back more memories, in a resto one night. I was loving my dish and turned enthusiastically to a work colleague and said with gusto "je t'aime" when I meant to say, it's lovely , I love it. Cringe!!! And I wonder why they hit on me !! lol!

Very funny! In my first few months I mis-translated preservatives and told my doc that I thought my tummy trouble was down to eating condoms. I then headed over to the mairie and asked for my annual quota of young men instead of asking for yellow bin bags...........oh and announced to an entire restaurant that I love cooking naked instead of 'à la poêle'. Later on I began to think my language skills were improving until I realised that my poor pronunciation of 'cou' meant I was actually marketing my wheat bags as a comforter for people with sore bums. I did, however, get a little revenge when helping my local estate agent friend show a house to a British couple. He wanted to practise his English and started banging on about the family sized chicken. Almost wet myself.

A very funny thread, this!! I've also had bad experiences with the afore-mentioned chatte, chiotte, préservatif and 'être chaude' instead of 'avoir chaud'. My addition is a bit more relative to my early years on the markets making and selling jewellery. Before I knew to refer to a choker necklace as a 'collier de chien', I was informed by a French neighbour that it was called a 'ras de cou' - which I offered to various clients with bemused reactions. Apparently I was badly pronouncing 'cou' and was asking them if they'd like something close to their backsides. Still I did sell a few - even if it wasn't quite what they were expecting.


Our local garage had a call from an Englishman who said he haad left his broken down car on the "vierge"

here's a tricky one:

When I met my mother-in-law the first time, she asked me if I loved her daughter - "tu l'aime?"

I responded: Yes very much - "oui, je l'aime beaucoup" - well apparently this means "I really like you very much - but only as a friend".

She wasn't convinced. After a long explanation, I can now say it correctly "je l'aime fort"

Ben, just fallen in to your one. Sort of meaning to write 'dog' but getting a 'b' instead of a 'd' at the start, easy slip. The builder one I have probably done it as well but without the same reaction, just a look of disgust...

I once happily told my French parents-in-law that back in the UK, bread had condoms in it to keep it fresh... (des préservatifs) !

When we first arrived, our Renault Master had a burst hose on the water pump. The garagiste was beside himself when my partner asked for a replacement by saying:- " je voudrais une pipe".

Yes (we arrived 17 years ago) and my early mistakes were 1) I knew a dog was a chien, a bitch was a chienne, a cat was a chat and a female one was a chatte (as well as other things). A puppy was a chiot and as we had just got a female puppy I reckoned it was a chiotte to my French neighbours. Wrong (look it up). 2) The builder asked me where he could get water. I said 'de mon derrier' (meaning the back of the house. He looked at me and said, unsmiling, "Well I suppose water is water wherever it comes from".

My wife has spoken French for a large part of her life but Swiss French that is laced with her own Italian dialect. Recently she asked the baker to bring us a 'pain integral' occasionally, to which no response. Then the next time the baker said to me, "...but you do not have sliced bread anyway...". I did not understand, asked for explanation and found that she had misunderstood and that it should have been 'pain complet' to get the brown bread we wanted and that she had worked out unsliced as the only possible thing that could have been meant in the first place! I have trouble with enchanté too and bizarre still gets me because it is so radically different from when used in other languages and is only strange. Now that is strange!

Haven't heard that one David. Have heard many others but not that!! We shall ever be unwittingly putting our foot in it, non?

Well if you say "bubus" out loud, it kinda sounds like a French pet name for female genitalia (not sure how correct and/or local it is, but it is a word we use with our 5 year old daughter...)

Brilliant Kaz!

could've been a hard one to explain yer way out of!