Sunday, September 12, 2010

I know enough French to be dangerous

In most cases, I get the gist. But I can also go very far wrong. For example, this morning:

There was a survey on Rees’s cereal box , actually it was called a “Kuizz,” about, well, something, not sure what. But promising a “programme personnalisé.” So what the heck, could be fun. Let’s take the kuizz!

Question #4:


(a) Une préoccupation permanente

(b) Une simple question de bein-être!

(c) Un objectif que j’atteindrai…un jour!

So first off, we think it is a question about laundry, LINGE. And with that in mind, I think the options are

(a) a permanent preoccupation

(b) a simple question of well being

(c) a goal you attain in one day

Hmmm, those seem like sort of funny answers to the question about laundry, kind of all or nothing, like it is either never done, a happy thing, or done in one day. Not sure those are the categories I would have chosen, but maybe it is cultural thing.

Then, on closer inspection, I see that it is not linge, but ligne. Linge is laundry, but ligne literally means “line.” So the question literally is “For me to have line is…” Not sure what that means, but maybe something about being fit or in good form?

Then the answers sort of make more sense. Except the last one about attaining this in one day. And it dawns on me that I missed that a bit too. Not “a goal you attain in one day, “ but, “a goal you attain…one day!”

So you can see how easily I am diverted down the wrong path! And in the end, I still don’t really get it…sigh.

A couple of days ago I went shopping at a sort of French version of TJMaxx. This shopping trip taught me many interesting things, as most outings here do. One of which is to be careful where I put my feet.

When I go to try on some clothes, I try to read the sign in the back of the dressing room. It says something about what to do with the clothes you don’t want. I get that, but I don’t get what to do with them. Whatever.

I step out of my danskos and promptly step right onto a long, sharp tack, probably part of the security tags they use. Yowch! There is a giant tack sticking out of the instep of my foot. More unintentional acupuncture. I don’t really have the words to tell anyone about this unfortunate event, so I take the tack out of my foot and put it on top of a box that is outside the dressing room.

Then there is the blood. I am bleeding all over the dressing room floor. Which is actually a good sign for my healing, but I don’t have a tissue or a bandaid and I don’t know how to ask for help. I don’t want to be alarming and I am really fine, but it is a bit of a mess.

Since I don’t want it to ruin my trip, I just carry on, blood or no blood.

In the end all is well, no infection, and I buy a skirt. That evening I tell Greg the story and he reminds me the word for blood is sang. So I say sange. No, he says, that is the word for monkey.

So the kids and I get a big laugh about me explaining that there are monkeys all over the dressing room floor. Like asking a clown if you can have one of his baboons.

Yesterday I find out that Kadin thought n’est pas (isn’t it) was nez pa (no nose).

It's a puzzle everyday.


Amber said...

That sounds like such a wonderful adventure!

Dais said...

Thanks for the laugh!

cda said...

I love these stories, Jenny!

And I'm glad to know that your figure is not your permanent preoccupation. (At least, that's how the rusty French left in my brain is translating ligne!)

I have yet to catch up on all your Grenoble adventures; I'm really looking forward to tonight's procrastination session!

Also, along the lines of the monkey in the dressing room, when we were living in Senegal, we had some kind of leaking pipe and my dad had a funny story about going to all these hardware stores looking for a rubber thing to put over it.... Don't know what words he used, but it sounds like the clerks had a good laugh!

My "best" gaffe was walking into a Parisian jewelry/watch store asking whether they had any birth control pills--meaning to ask for a watch battery, of course!

Sending you lots of love--and I hope when AL's 12 that she'll want to hang out with me, too!