Sunday, January 17, 2010

Yes, the French do have a sense of humour.

The dangers of speaking a foreign language. Last night we inadvertently became the source of great hilarity at a crowded restaurant in the neighbouring village. At the end of dinner, while I went of to pay the bill , 'the font' was left alone in what should have been inconsequential conversation with the waitress. I'd only been gone for four minutes, max, but returned to find the waitress in tears and the restaurant manager doubled over in what appeared to be agony. When asked by the staff if we'd enjoyed ourselves 'the font' had helpfully replied in French : " It was our first time here and you can be sure we'll come again". In fact what 'the font' had actually come out with was : "It was our first time here and you can be sure we'll never come again". The hitherto stoical waitresses had let out a wail as she attempted to control her fit of giggles, this in turn had attracted the restaurant manager who on hearing 'the font' repeat this less than glowing review succumbed to an uncontrollable bout of Gallic hilarity. The adjoining tables unreservedly and whole heartedly joined in the cachinnation and clapping of hands - no Anglo-Saxon reserve here in deepest France Profonde. A bottle of champagne was produced, the chuckling chef came out of the kitchen , chairs were drawn up, the owner proposed a toast, and yet more locals introduced themselves chortling contentedly at their new neighbours linguistic faux pas. What could have been a disaster was taken with charm, good grace and lashings of healthy laughter. Of course if we'd been in Paris it would have been a different matter.


  1. what a wonderful story! i can just see the scene and them asking the font to repeat his review.....too funny!!

  2. I love it! I too have made similar linguistic jaffes including "I don't mean to contradict you, but I don't speak French well" when I meant to say, "I'm sorry, but I don't speak French well." Many years ago, I was visiting a friend in the French-speaking town of Embrun in Canada. Emboldened by the renewal of my high school French, I struck out to the town on my own, murmurring "Bonjours" to passerby. I went into the building that had been pointed out to me as the post office, walked confidently up to the window and loudly recited my carefully rehearsed line "Je voudrais dix timbres pour les cartes postale s'il vous plait" only to have the clerk say in perfectly clear English "This is a bank, the post office is next door."


  3. I love your story!!! My mom was fluent in French, and wanted me to achieve the same fluency. But, once in a French countryside restaurant, I tried to say that I was full and couldn't eat any more but I accidentally told the waitress that I was pregnant (at age 16)!

    Thanks so much for your warm comments on my blog. Typing is starting to get easier so I hope to resume 'normal' blogging soon! An odd side-effect of my surgery was that I lost the coordination in my fingers. It's almost back.

  4. At least you got champagne out of it! That doesn't sound too bad. Perhaps a few more slips of the tongue are in order!

  5. That is so funny! Well the Font's French is a lot better than mine. I used to be looked after by a lovely French neighbour here in Aberdeen. He used to say 'mena mena' when it was time for a walk (from the word promenade, I think).
    Cheers! H.

  6. kks - So much for us thinking we were getting fluent. Pride comes before ...

    Petey -- Thanks for the reassurance that it's not just us

    KB - So, so good to hear from you and know that healing proceeds apace. What a hoot of a story.

    Houndstooth - Foreigners - always a good excuse to open a bottle of champagne and have a laugh. Despite the bureaucracy you've got to say that life in France is special.

  7. Svp, dites aux chiens qu'ils avaient parle bien en francais. Mamam m'avais apprends francais quand j'etais un choit.
    Bisous, Bisous,
    Sally Ann

  8. What a great story.. it sounds like it should be part of a movie..very funny.. I just love your dogs also.. have a wonderful day.