When I first came to Paris in March to meet my new co-workers, I was really impressed with how well everyone spoke English. After being here for several months now, there are some quirks that happen when crossing from French to English that I find particularly endearing/amusing/hysterical. Here’s a list:
- Pseudo-inappropriate use of the word “shiny.” Example: “Wow–the sun is out today! It’s so shiny outside!” This one makes me smile every time.
- Addition of the “H” sound to words beginning with a vowel. Example: “Edgy” becomes “hedgy,” “oven” becomes “hoven” or “ear” becomes “hear.” This one usually leaves me scratching my head for a moment or two while I try to figure out what the person really meant to say.
- Pronunciation of the “K” sound in words beginning with “KN.” Example: “I need to wash the kah-nife,” or “My stomach is in kah-nots.” I kick into English Correction Mode when I hear this one.
- Occasional swapping of the “S” sound for a “TH” sound. Example: “I feel sick” becomes “I feel thick.” See how I said this was hysterical?
- Occasional swapping of silent or “F” sounding “GH” for a “TH” sound. Example: “I was laughing” becomes “I was lauthing”, or “This is really good dough” becomes “This is really good doth.” Another head-scratcher. Lots of times these words result in a “Huh?” from me.
- Pseudo-inappropriate (though sometimes applicable) use of the word “funny” as a substitute for “fun.” Example: “It’s not funny being sick.” Uh, no, it isn’t a comedy, you’re right. 🙂 Or, “I saw my best friend this weekend and it was really funny.” At this point I’m sitting there waiting for a story about some drunken mishap that will result in me laughing until I cry, but my blank stare is usually just met with a smile.
- Inappropriate use of plural nouns or adjectives. Example: “I need to get my hairs cut. They are too long.” Or “I just scored 84 millions!” How can you not laugh at this? 🙂
Oh and, Dear French Friends: please keep in mind that I have created this list as something I can refer back to to remember that we all make mistakes. This way, when I begin speaking more French and have you all rolling on the floor laughing (or lauthing) with my egregious errors and pronunciation faux pas I can maintain some self-respect. 🙂
I adore this blogpost! So endearing! Michel always confuses “ear” and “hear” and calls his ears his “hears.” Too cute. I also have found that it’s easy to confuse two words with completely different meanings if they sound enough alike. (And I guess we do the same when we speak French.) My favorite happened last November while I was trying to plan a Thanksgiving dinner for my French family. Michel: “Oh, I have talked to my mother and we will not have a donkey [pronounced don-kay] for dinner. We will have a chicken.”
HAHA! That’s great! I just hope our mistakes are as cute to them as theirs are to us 🙂
Haha my bf pluralizes nouns, like “hairs”, too. He pronounces dough like “duff” not “duth”. My other favorite is when he’s said “thourouFFly”!!! Also, it’s hard for him to say “though”, but with that one he knows not to pronounce the gh as th, but he stills gets it wrong by saying “dough” because it’s not easy making the ‘th’ sound in the beginning. So, when we says “though” I think of Homer Simpson’s “D’oh!”. I should make a list myself! I hear funny errors from him on a daily basis!
I just started following your blog recently, and I’m impressed that you’ve picked up the #2 (the H) so quickly. After five years of living here, I came up with a theory. See, if you listen, the French won’t pronounce the H if it’s there. “House” becomes “ouse,” etc. But if there is no H, they add it. So my theory is that a teacher way back in the way back switched the rule of when to pronounce the H, and taught all other French-speaking English teachers WRONG. Thus why nearly all French people get the pronounced H backwards in English.
My favorite was when a friend told me that she “hate” my soup. I thought, “Surely she isn’t telling me she hates my soup.” Nope. She ate it. What a difference the H makes.
That’s a pretty great story… And I dig your theory. I seriously have racked my brain trying to think of WHY these Hs are added onto words when the French speak English. I can sleep a little better after considering your possible explanation 🙂
Okay, I wanna know how often you hear the expression “This is really good dough” in perfect or broken English. And if it’s often, we need to start seeing some recipe posts.
I adore all these little errors too! A certain someone loves to pronounce the “b” in debt and doubt. And I loved when I was traveling how a lot of European travelers would say “make” for everything – make a party, make a picture. By the end of traveling I was making pictures and making parties too! But I make a lot of mistakes when I try to formulate french sentences – I usually just try to translate a sentence from english into french and it’s never quite right. Nico is always saying “I can see what you want to say, but that’s not exactly how we say it…”
My favorite phrases are the ones that you know are literal translations, which just don’t work in English. For example, saying “numerical age” for digital age because in French, it’s “l’âge numérique.” Always makes me smile. It’s easy to understand if you know the French, but super confusing if you don’t. But it definitely goes the same way – like attempting to say something is “exciting” in French, without knowing the proper terminology, or saying “I’m fine” which just doesn’t have the same meaning over there. Those can definitely inspire some laughs. 🙂
I love the fun vs. funny one! FBF still makes that mistake from time to time and it’s too adorable.