A series of anecdotes with or without any connection to the running of a restaurant.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

It's all double Dutch...

The problem with having French as my first language is that I often conjugate French verbs in English, use French words in English sentences, etc... or vice versa.

This weekend I was willing to bet money to prove I was right.
The word was notoriety. I've always thought that it meant just fame and nearly had the money on the table.
But this is what Wiktionary says:
The condition of being infamous or notorious.
"He who portrays examples of disinterestedness and intrepidity, confers on virtue the notoriety and homage that are due to it, and rouses in the spectators, the spirit of salutary emulation."


An English to French dictionary gives the following translation:
Notorious (adj) célèbre (connu, notoire) Famous, (known, notable)
Notorious (adj) fameux (ayant bonne réputation) Famous (having a good reputation)

So who the hell is right?

I once argued with a girlfriend that the right word for sacrificing was sacrifying... because the French for To Sacrifice is Sacrifier. I think we broke up very shortly after that.

On another occasion, speaking to my French niece, instead of "C'est efficace" I said: "C'est efficient!" truly believing that there was such a word in French!

The only time I'm confortable with these mistakes is when I speak to my Algerian or French friends in this country. We gladly glide over the semantics and use the first word that comes to mind without fear of being laughed at.

Après tout, we are all in the same bateau!!




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13 Comments:

Blogger lettuce said...

No posts for ages, and then 2 come along at once!

Wiktionary isn't to be trusted any more than Wickipedia.

Trying to think of something witty to say, but i think its too early.

Notoriety - i'm sure its to do with outrageous fame - or fame for outrageousness, not just fame.

THats it, off for coffee now.

Well done on the fast, happy ramadan.

4/10/06 10:24 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

At least you speak several languages. I've only really mastered english. I should be ashamed.

4/10/06 12:07 PM  
Blogger Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

Laughed at by Geordies -- ha ha ha!! You must be the most eloquent and erudite man in the county. But surely you speak French or Arabic to your friends? Or have you all forgotten how to speak your mother tongue? We Brussels expats all speak fluent franglespanitaldeutsch.

4/10/06 12:56 PM  
Blogger Ale said...

well first of all- never argue with a woman, even if she is dead wrong (in your opinion)

secondly... they did a study on people who speak fluently more then 2 languages and basically we have "issues" with the way our brain works because of all the languates- so don't worry- its just how its going to be. :) just you simple words like cat- dog- school- table-- and all should be fine! :))))

4/10/06 7:58 PM  
Blogger Cherrypie said...

I've always been mildly amused that the French 'formidable' has such a differnet meaning to the English word of the same spelling.

It's not the words you use, it's the the way you say them that's important

4/10/06 8:44 PM  
Blogger DCveR said...

You never seem to have trouble making yourself understood by your readers...

4/10/06 9:12 PM  
Blogger Hayden said...

I only wish I knew enough to make those kinds of mistakes. I speak English well - but it's my only language, so there's no pride in that!

5/10/06 3:43 AM  
Blogger Modern Viking said...

Haha! I need to be careful... I often use English words in Brasilian sentences when I don't know the right one. My fiancee lets me get away with it, but others may not be so forgiving...

5/10/06 7:03 AM  
Blogger cream said...

Thanks, Lettie. Now I know. I’ve always thought I was famous in my little town, some people will think I am notorious!

Mary, the message is more important than the delivery, you know.

Daphnée, you must be joking! Ever since we got the Sage, everyone talks posh on the Quayside!
When I speak to my French or Algerian friends it is a mix of 3 languages and we tend to use the first word that comes to mind whatever the language. When we get stuck, we just improvise! So, it’s Araboanglofranco we speak ooop here!

Ale, I agree! Never argue with a woman holding a dictionary.

Cherrybabe, C’est formidable, n’est-ce pas? You are right there! It’s all in the meaning.

Thanks, DC! Good job you can’t hear me!

Hayden, give it a few years and we’ll all need to learn Chinese!

Viking, I think you are lucky to have a Brazilian fiancée who’s so understanding! Usually they are so fiery!

5/10/06 11:24 AM  
Blogger Calamity Tat said...

Oh I'm in the same boat blue me too, i make errors all the time as words are so close here and they sound the same, I'm told it adds to my charm.. hahahaha.. i have also started talking backwards...

5/10/06 5:17 PM  
Anonymous guyana-gyal said...

Bateau? Who's bateauing who? No voylence, please.

Cream, just mix it up and have fun, words are just words as long as we don't hit others with them.

Funny though, I never woulda thunk it, that you have a problem with language 'n' words, you blog so well.

5/10/06 6:51 PM  
Blogger Caribbean Colors said...

I do the same here with Spanglish. I've had a couple of pretty funny errors. Once I told someone I waws embarrassado, thinking I was saying I was embarrassed, and instead I told them I was pregnant. Then there was a time I ordered fish ovaries thinking I was ordering scrambled eggs... then there was the recent time I was orderiung for Bigness in a restaurant in Mexico, he was in the bathroom. I ordered a huge amount of food for what looked like, just me, and when the very sweet waitress questioned my quantities, I told her it was FOR MY WIFE!

14/10/06 12:16 PM  
Blogger andrea said...

I'm chipping in a little late here, but this post reminded me of the three-week job from hell when I worked at a framing shop between teaching gigs. The bosses refused to believe me when I told them that the term was *not* "restauranteur" but "restaurateur." (I thought you'd appreciate that -- and don't you think that's a good enough reason to quit?) As for my French, it's improving dramatically now that my kids are going to French Immersion schools. Oh la la!

17/10/06 2:41 AM  

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