Tag Archives: surprise

Les onomatopées… « aïe!! »

24 Jan

Firstly, the Merriam-Webster definition:


1: the naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it (as buzz, hiss)
2: the use of words whose sound suggests the sense
You know what they are, dear readers… These little sounds that we all make daily, whether we are expressing exctasy and anticipation upon being presented with a delicious, mouth-watering dessert (yum!! in English, or miam!! in French) or disgust when our sense of modesty or manners (savoir-vivre) has been challenged (yuk!! in English, or beurk!! in French).

Credits: Uderzo

I was reminded of these little interjections today, as I was reading a raving review of the new book « Les trucs d’anglais qu’on a oublié de vous enseigner » by Grant Hamilton, on the blog Le mot juste en anglais. I have myself been immersed in the American-English language for so many years (I think 10…), that I don’t even realize how « native » I have gone…

The beautiful thing about becoming bilingual, is that you instinctively switch the way your express yourself, your sounds, your intonation, even your body language from one language « set of rules » to the other!
After my first full-year immersion in the USA (I was 18 and worked as an au pair in South Carolina), I experienced the « reverse culture shock » when I returned to Strasbourg, France, to start my language studies. What was very strange, was that when I started classes the other students were convinced I was American!
They would come up to me and introduce themselves in English: « You are ze Américaine, right? ». I would reply in French, explain that I just came back from 1 year in the US but that I was from a village 60 km South of here… only to realize that my intonation in French had not quite yet returned to normal.

Image by sekundo via Flickr

But rest assured, dear French-learners… the balance comes back. You eventually truly switch everything, and you start sounding « native » in both languages. So when I speak English, or even if I speak French to my American husband (which we have only done for 1 year now) but I am located in the USA, I say « ouch!! » when it hurts, « darn!! » when I am upset, « bang!! » when I talk about a door shutting.
But, when I speak French, or I am talking to a Francophone, I say « aïe!! » (or aï-eeeeeuh when it really hurts!), « zut!! », « boum!! » respectively.
So you will know when the French language has become like a second skin to your whole body, not just your tongue, when you start reacting with these fun onomatopoeia. The best way to learn them: read some Tintin or Astérix et Obélix comic strips books, and you will be all set!

Un film magnifique : « La gloire de mon père »

22 Jan


For a relaxing Sunday, I thought I would recommend one of the most beautiful French films ever made, which I had the opportunity to watch last Sunday evening (yay to Netflix!) with my American husband who had never seen it: « My Father’s Glory« , an adaptation of Marcel Pagnol‘s novel « La gloire de mon père« . The sequel is called « My mother’s castle » (« Le château de ma mère« ).

The DVD will include English subtitles, but the following video of the French trailer is French audio only… If you have trouble understanding, just the beauty of the landscapes should captivate you enough to make you want to watch it! Provence is a region of France I have not yet taken my husband to, and we plan to visit that area in May hopefully… the weather should be perfect then.

The two films are an autobiography of famous French writer Marcel Pagnol. They are set in the period between 1900 and the First World War in 1914. Young Marcel was born in the country but raised in Marseilles. His father, Joseph, is a public school teacher in Marseilles. Marcel’s Aunt Rose marries Uncle Jules, who offers to split a vacation home in the Provence countryside (near Aubagne) to spend the summer break together as a family. Marcel is enchanted by the beauty of the arid mountainous landscape, full of surprises and treasures…

A beautiful family movie, enjoy!

Le mot rigolo: « le slip »

6 Août

[tweetmeme source= »FrenchNad » only_single=false] There are some basic words you never know when you are going to need (such as getting all your clothes washed while traveling overseas and your underwear is missing?)…

// le slip // nom masculin: underpants (Br. pants), panties, knickers. Warning: do not mix with the English word « a slip »…

Funny anecdote:  A few days before our French-American wedding in my little village in Alsace, France, my mom, future mom-in-law and I were discussing what they would be wearing. It was a very HOT summer and there was no air-conditioning of course anywhere.

My mom-in-law kindly asked: « It is so hot out… Do you think I should still wear a slip, » (as we looked at her in bewilderment) « you know under my dress? »

My mom and I discussing in French: « What does she mean by no panties under her dress? » … « Do you think it is an American tradition for the mother of the groom not to wear any? » Yes, we eventually understood that my mom-in-law was merely discussing the gown you wear under a dress, the slip (le sous-robe/ le jupon in French).


Porter un slip. // To wear underpants/ panties.
Le slip de bain. // A « Speedo »/ swimming trunks.

You never know when that word might come handy!

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Notre mot rigolo du jour: « Saperlipopette! »

23 Juil

[tweetmeme source= »FrenchNad » only_single=false] Le vendredi sera notre « Jour Des Mots Rigolos » 🙂 (day of funny words), et voici donc pour se faire un long mot rigolo, that people say to exclaim astonishement in a funny way: 

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« Saperlipopette! » means « Goodness me ! » and expresses surprise or astonishement.

You could also say the following words as subsitute to « Merde! », to express frustration or anger for :

Mince alors !

Zut !

Flûte !

Crotte !


Ça craint!

This must have been a « bonus » day… you just got 7 words for the price of 1! Vive le vendredi!

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