back to article Getting your tongue around foreign tech-talk is easier than you think

I live in a bag-arse. Bag-arses are great places to live in. School-run monster trucks avoid them. Transient pedestrian litter-louts don’t even know they exist. Noisy buses and smelly lorries refuse to come anywhere near a bag-arse. The street sign even has “Bag-arse” proudly displayed under the name in bold red letters. Of …

  1. Dr_N Silver badge

    Courriel

    Funny how "courriel" (email) never took off as a word in tech-French.

    "Anyway, not wanting to be a typical Brit after our move to the south of France, I plan deliberately to avoid my fellow ex-pats."

    Good luck with that, Mr Dabbs.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Courriel

      @Dr_N

      "Good luck with that, Mr Dabbs."

      Just out them all, they're all on the run right?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Courriel

      Ah courriel, and bogue (yes bogue, not bogues as a "French" for bug), and interviouve, and so many absolutely mad attempt at translating English to dodgy French, outside of the usual French syllabs. Noone uses those in French ...

      I really hate those académiciens !

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Courriel

      On the other hand, le ferry-boat is an abomination.

      But there's nothing wrong with le sandwich, le weekend etc.

      I was a bit doubtful of cliquez (as in "cliquez ici" for click here) - it's a bit ugly. But then tirez (shoot) isn't much better.

      Packaging in Belgium was even more fun, as it was often double-sided French/Flemish, sometimes with extra German, Italian, English. But then you got random yellow bits on the packaging saying "New Improved" or "50% extra" and it was random as to what language they'd pick for that as well.

      And their supermarkets often had TVs by each checkout showing techno and europop. Which is just evil.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Courriel

        Not to mention the strange way of shortening borrowed words, where sweatshirt and pullover become "un sweat" and "un pull". Other things take the French attitude to plurals, leaving us with "un jean" or "un short".

        On a more serious note, if you're hoping to find less xenophobia you'll be in for a disappointment. The French are casually racist in a way that's very reminiscent of 50's Britain. Mostly directed at non-whites, especially N. African, but it's not unusual to hear conversations in the bakery or hairdresser criticising immigrants because "well, they're just like not us", implying "not proper people".

        Your other half will also find a time warp, all joint financial dealings (tax bills, etc.) will be directed to you, as the man you're officially the head of the household. Still pisses my wife off, after many, many years.

        Practically speaking, you're about to meet the joys of French paperwork.

        - Never (ever) abberviate your name. If your given name is Frederick, but you've used Fred since you were 10, you must still use Frederick on all official or semi-official papers. Officialdom simply will not recognise Fred and Frederick as the same name, referring to the same person.

        - Any dealings with officialdom will require proof of identity, most often a copy of a birth certificate issued not more than 3 months ago. It does not matter that the circumstances of your birth have not changed in the 30-odd years since, nor are ever going to change, that certificate must be less than 3 months old.

        - No matter how many bits of paper you take to a government department, and even if you have exactly followed the list they gave you, there will always be one more they ask for on the day. The trick is to 'forget' one (such as the aforementioned birth certificate) and when they tell you it's the only missing piece, you can "find" it in your briefcase. Annoys the hell out of them, but it works.

        - Get your car insurance company to write you a letter saying exactly how many claim-free years bonus you have. It takes 10 years to earn a full bonus (50%) in France, but they know it's only 3 years in the UK. Present them with a letter saying "Mr Dabbs has a full no-claims bonus" and they'll only credit you with 3 years, 15% discount.

        Good luck, and and have fun with the tax bills...

        1. Dr_N Silver badge

          Re: Courriel

          You don't sound like you're having a good time in France, AC.

          Time to find a nicer region or head back to Brexit Blighty ?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Courriel

            You don't sound like you're having a good time in France, AC.

            Oh, like everywhere it has its plus and minus points. The trick is to laugh at the negatives, and not to get too irritated by them. I had an American colleague who just couldn't get over the way that supermarkets had stuff in the "wrong" place, he never settled. France is great if you want good food & wine, reasonable weather, and nice scenery (and are willing to pay for them). If you want somewhere that's not xenophobic, has low taxes and prices, and a working economy, then it wouldn't be my recommended destination.

            Time to ... head back to Brexit Blighty ?

            That's the plan, in time. Hopefully before France elects an FN president.

            1. Dr_N Silver badge

              Re: Courriel

              " If you want somewhere that's not xenophobic, has low taxes and prices, and a working economy, then it wouldn't be my recommended destination."

              England's not going to be much of a better choice, sadly.

              Have you thought about the United States of America? That looks like an exciting and vibrant place at the moment.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. Lotaresco

            Re: Courriel

            '(called Steuerberater - ("shto-ya-ber-ah-ter") - in German) ... Treuhand - ("troy-hand")'

            Blimey, I think I'd beg to differ on the fine detail of pronunciation of each of those. I can't get the "eu" sound to map to "oy" or "o-ya".

            I worked around Freiburg-im-Breisgau for a time and in Switzerland. I liked Germany a great deal (hated their cars) but the social setup where everything and everyone has to be "nett", church taxes and the "no power tools on Sunday" ground my grits. Switzerland is much the same - I've seen people escorted home from work to clear the snow from their own path, for example. In the end I succumbed to the chaos that is Italy.

            A few years ago I had to fly (Swissair) from Docklands to Zurich to get an onwards connection to Lugano. I was on a tight deadline with a TV appearance on the evening news. We got into Zurich and I was told that a freak snowstorm had closed Zurich and Lugano. I explained my problem and the check-in assistant looked puzzled and said "But of course you will be there on time, we have changed your ticket to a train ticket." I was sceptical but the train was about as fast as the flight and of course even in snow runs to timetable. That was the bit I did like about Switzerland, public transport that works.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. JLV Silver badge

        Re: Courriel

        Borland manual c. 1995

        "Fenetre surgissante" - popup window

      3. foo_bar_baz
        IT Angle

        Re: Courriel / "50% extra"

        @I ain't Spartacus: You can hardly lay claim on the word "extra" as it's - quote - "a Latin preposition, denoting beyond, outside of".

        But otherwise, point well put. It's the same elsewhere here in Euroland and elsewhere in the world - we welcome our Anglo-American cultural overlords with open arms.

        While I've got the floor, may I kindly request Britain try return to your sane selves. It was your job to set the standard. Since the Brexit vote we've had to look to Germany for that, and I don't want to learn German at my age.

    4. AnonFairBinary

      Re: Courriel

      Courriel did catch on, if you flee to Canada, instead of France. And over here in French, they somehow managed to add 'ing' to shampoo... it is Shampooing... oh, and funny you picked on that one, since English loaned it from hindi in the first place.

    5. Lotaresco

      Re: Courriel

      "Good luck with that, Mr Dabbs."

      Indeed. I made my escape to Italy a couple of decades ago. I deliberately chose an area with no English residents. That lasted until the budget airlines started to bring in people on £15 tickets. Now there's a huge English population, mostly from Essex taking flights out of Stansted.

      Even so we were doing well avoiding them, but recently the zombie hordes have been beating a path to our door because they've heard of us and they want someone who speaks English to help them with their taxes/house purchase etc. They often look puzzled when I say that my wife and I made sure that we learned Italian so that we could do those things for ourselves.

      Mr Dabbs does have an implicit point in his article. As a native English speaker in a European mainland country your skills are in demand. I've had several TV appearances now as "the English computer expert" and I can't shake the feeling that the only reason this happens is because as an Anglo/Italian IT specialist I'm in a very small pool of people to choose from.

  2. biscuit

    I'm not convinced by the French not using cul-de-sac. They mainly use impasse, but my colleagues aren't surprised to hear cul-de-sac being used like this. They are however surprised to see it being used in the UK.

    1. flokie

      This reminded me of that time I bought a Reading festival ticket + coach travel from Paris from a French company many moons ago. We arrived a few hours late, but talking to others on a coach, it turned out to be an improvement on the previous year, when there was even more of a delay after the driver took the wrong motorway exit and got lost in London suburbs.

      Why that person chose to travel again with them the next year beggars belief, as they had afterwards sent a complaint and asked for compensation, and got an apology with this immortal line "Ca peut arriver a tout le monde de se perdre dans une impasse": "Getting lost in a cul-de-sac can happen to anybody".

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      I think I've seen streets in France labelled voie sans issue.

      Apparently, the first known use of cul de sac was in 1738, which rather rules out its being invented by a PHB in the suburbs. Quite possibly it was idiomatic French at the time.

      1. Anonymous Blowhard

        Probably originated in Punch's Let's Parler Franglais section...

      2. disgruntled yank Silver badge

        No issues here

        I see streets in the US marked "No outlet"; but Americans would not call most of those cul de sacs. Usually a cul de sac is not only a dead-end street but expands at the dead end for easier turning and more houses.

    3. Marketing Hack Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Cul-de-sac is used all the time in suburban America, too.

      1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

        Also here in South Africa.

        Most older c-d-s leaves very little wriggle room at the end, but later ones have enough space for a car to turn on a dime should you enter such a street by mistake.

        Just don't try to do it with an articulated vehicle, you gonna struggle...

        1. ratfox Silver badge

          Cul-de-sac is the word that naturally comes to my mind for a dead end. It took me an effort to find synonyms like impasse and voie sans issue. Impasse is certainly the word which is used whenever naming a street, though. Voie sans issue is a description rather than a name.

    4. Montreal Sean

      @biscuit

      Re: cul-de-sac

      It is used all the time here in Quebec.

      Usually used in the following manner:

      "Crisse de cul-de-sac! I need to get to that other road, where's a through street?"

      :)

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Baggins of bag end

    It wasn't Tolkien who invented it was it?

    (Cul can mean more than arse, but it usually means arse.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Baggins of bag end

      "(Cul can mean more than arse, but it usually means arse.)"

      Incroyable. Vous voulez me faire croire cela? Baiser mon cul.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Alert

        Re: Baggins of bag end

        I hope you knew what you were doing when you used baiser as a verb. Thanks for the offer, but no thanks.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Baggins of bag end

          "I hope you knew what you were doing when you used baiser as a verb."

          Um, yes. I admit to having learned French in the previous century, but if you ask a native French speaker what the phrase means (it depends on context) you will perhaps find the dictionary explanation of the difference between une baise and baiser omits a number of grey areas. It's the difference between being taught French at school and picking up French from the company's Parisian sales rep. (The day someone tried to do a U-turn in front of us on the périphérique I was seriously thinking of taking notes.)

          The expression can be used as in "having had enough of sucking up to the boss" (J'en avais assez de lui baiser le cul") or the reverse ("Tu me baises le cul maintenant", "You're just sucking up to me now.")

      2. JLV Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Baggins of bag end

        Baise_z_ mon cul, svp ;-)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Baggins of bag end - Baise_z_ mon cul, svp ;-)

          Touché. Mais je ne baiserai jamais votre sale cul, pédant.

    2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: Baggins of bag end

      You're thinking of "Bilbo Baggins and the Thirteen Short-arses", I suppose.

      Altered of course after protests, to "Bilbo Baggins and the Thirteen Other Short-arses".

      Living underground, the hobbits originally had no word for "lawn ornament", but several may be found in Tolkien's unexpurgated text. :-)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Baggins of bag end

      "Baggins" was rendered as "Sacquet" (little bag: the mind boggles) and the "Sackville Bagginses" as "Sacquet de Besace" in my French edition of LOTR if I remember correctly.

      Also, it was Bilbon and Frodon.

      (To be filed under things you really didn't need to know... ;-)

    4. Jemma Silver badge

      Re: Baggins of bag end

      You'll never look at hobbits the same way again...

      http://www.ealasaid.com/misc/vsd/

      "Nah, that's a hobo and a rabbit; but they're making a hobbit.. " Futurama

      1. WolfFan Silver badge

        Re: Baggins of bag end

        Feh. That's nothing. After you read Mary Gentle's book Grunts https://www.amazon.com/Grunts-Mary-Gentle/dp/0451454537 (warning, she ain't very gentle. Nope, nope, nope. She'd fit right in at El Reg, except that she'd have to tone things down a little to avoid getting moderated) you'll never look at hobbits the same way again. Hmm. Orc marines. Orc marines who love elves, especially roasted with some greens in a nice wine sauce. Hmm. Cannibal, murderous, thieving, arsonist, transvestite hobbits. Hmm. And these are the good guys. Make that 'these aren't the worst guys in the book', there aren't any actual good guys.

  4. Novex
    Joke

    Is it..

    'sac-de-tea', or 'cul-de-tea'?

    1. 's water music Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Is it..

      'sac-de-tea', or 'cul-de-tea'?

      And, more importantly what's the gerund. Paris, obvs.

    2. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

      Re: Is it..

      'sac-de-tea', or 'cul-de-tea'?

      "Teebeutel" en allemand.

      "Teebeutel" was often used as an insult by a former boss when referring to Brits in general.

  5. Olivier2553 Silver badge

    Cul de sac

    The expression cul-de-sac is very currently used in French French. Very. To design a street, or any thing with a solution that reach to nowhere.

    And it means "arse of bag" (as the bottom of a bag, like we would say un cul de bouteille, de chaudron...), like a dead end, and not "bag of arse".

    Admittedly, it is not used as street signage. The herds of giggling exchange students may rather be explained by their surprise to find a word they understand.

    1. Olivier2553 Silver badge

      Re: Cul de sac

      The word shampoo is not used in French, nor reconnoitre does exist.

      And we talk about réalité virtuelle, intelligence artificielle and objets connectés (your favotite IoT).

      1. Dr_N Silver badge

        Re: Cul de sac

        "The word shampoo is not used in French..."

        http://www.shampoo.fr/

        1. Olivier2553 Silver badge

          Re: Cul de sac

          But that's a brand (shampoo.fr), not a noun (?), it does not count.

          Well, it may be used as a noun by younger generations, but not by vieux fruits like Mr Dabbs or myself.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Cul de sac

          The word shampoo is not used in French. If you look at the label of your favourite product you will find the word <shampooing>.

          A pet peeve of mine is the French calling two-way radios "talkie-walkie".

          1. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

            Re: Cul de sac

            A pet peeve of mine is the French calling two-way radios "talkie-walkie".

            Right up there with Yanks who talk about "garranty" and "warrantee" in my book.

            On balance, I find "talkie-walkie" less of an abuse.

      2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: Shampoo

        Mr Dabbs was referring obliquely to the image placed next to the text, which you could mistake for a site advertisement - a common hazard. (I see one now offering a "virtual monitor", which is, um, what exactly? Aren't real ones better? It is however free.)

        It reads "No poo. Une crème lavante qui ne mousse pas pour laver en douceur."

        Google translates or not: "No poo. A cleansing cream that does not foam to gently wash." It's soap without bubbles, which is appropriate for some skin types or conditions.

        The actual product label is in English anyway, and an arrow in the picture confusingly points to the underside of the bottle. I don't think it can possibly be actually named "No poo".

        As for les experts computers francaises using English terms, I am desolated to tell you that Mr Dabbs, who occasionally fabulates, claims that he was there and heard it. When he reconnoitred.

        Dictionary says: "from obsolete French reconnoître to inspect, explore; see recognize" - that's "reconnaître". Since England was conquered by William The Bastard, it may be a piece of "la sagesse des Normands".

        British Windows automatically "corrects" "reconnaître" to "reconnoitre" if allowed to do so.

        1. Fungus Bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Shampoo

          I think we should all boycott shampoo and demand real poo.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Shampoo

          "It reads "No poo. "

          Does this mean that shampoo with no poo is just a sham?

          1. Fungus Bob Silver badge

            Re: Shampoo

            "Does this mean that shampoo with no poo is just a sham?"

            What about sham rocks?

      3. flokie

        Shampoing

        The actual word is in fact even worse than simply 'shampoo', since it's 'shampoing'. An 'o' has been dropped, and the pronunciation has nothing to do with English & rhymes with the french 'point'.

        reconnoitre does exist although it's archaic and has an î circonflexe, just like the modern form reconnaître.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Shampoing

          "[...] has an î circonflexe, just like the modern form reconnaître."

          IIRC the French have officially started to abandon the circumflex accent. Remembering that it apparently can indicate a missing letter "S" makes the similarity of some English words more obvious eg paste and the French pâté

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Shampoing

          Actually it's "shampooing" with two o's. Just check the labels in any French shop selling hair-care products. (Since I can't post a picture here).

      4. Alistair Dabbs

        Re: Cul de sac

        >> And we talk about réalité virtuelle, intelligence artificielle and objets connectés

        Not at that meeting. The presenter kept referring to "ee-oh-tay" until someone had to stop her and ask what she was talking about.

        1. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

          Re: Cul de sac

          "The presenter kept referring to "ee-oh-tay" until someone had to stop her and ask what she was talking about."

          I've fallen into the same trap in German. You go to the effort of thinking of a suitable translation and plain English, including pronunciation, would have been fine.

      5. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

        Re: Cul de sac

        "The word shampoo is not used in French"

        "Shampoo" does make it to German.

        It's pronounced "sham-poe" to rhyme with "toe". Coincidentally, "Po" in German means one of the following: buttocks; buttock; butt; seat; behind; backside; hind end; hindquarters; posterior; bum; buns; derriere; keister; caboose; fanny; tush; tushy [Am.] [coll.]

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: Cul de sac

      FWIIW, the German word for it is Sackgasse.

      Gasse: alley, narrow street

      Sack: bag, sack (as in a sack of spuds), colloquial abbrevation for Hodensack = scrotum (as in "Ey, geh' mir nich' auf'n Sack, Alter!")

      1. David Nash Silver badge

        Re: Sackgasse

        Despite being more familiar with the German language than with the French, I am not sure whether that is accurate, but upvoted because I hope it is.

        1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

          Re: Sackgasse

          Okay, you've asked for it, Dave.

    3. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Cul de sac

      I remember wandering around Toulouse and finding a street named "Rue de Four Bastard". I never got around to researching what that actually meant in French....I just sniggered, photographed it, sent the picture to my equally infantile friends, and then went on my way.

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

        Re: Rue de Fourbastard

        Found it!

        And it's even got an entry in Wikipédia!

        1. Big_Boomer

          Re: Rue de Fourbastard

          Must have been a Bakery there with a grumpy baker. Means "Road of the Bastard Oven" :D

          1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

            Re: Rue de Fourbastard

            Must have been a Bakery there with a grumpy baker. Means "Road of the Bastard Oven"

            Bastard is a perfectly respectable French surname, so it just means "Road of M. Bastard's oven."

            (Cue class of 12 year olds learning German for first time and finding out the German for father, or rather older class starting philosophy and discovering how Kant is actually pronounced. Mor's Theorem states that every word is a rude word in somebody's language, even if you need to go into L-space to find the relevant dictionary.)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Rue de Fourbastard

              "Bastard is a perfectly respectable French surname, [...]"

              Which brings to mind Alan B'Stard portrayed by Rik Mayall for "The New Statesman" play/series.

              1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

                Re: Rue de Fourbastard

                "Bastard is a perfectly respectable French surname, [...]"

                And in English too, apparently... The Pedia Of Wikidom

                Like my team meetings, it appears that there are a lot more bastards around than I thought

        2. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

          Re: Rue de Fourbastard

          "And it's even got an entry in Wikipédia!"

          Also found in Wikipédia, Rue du Docteur Finlay, in Paris.

          From which we learn that there was a Cuban version of Doc. Finlay who discovered that mosquitoes could transmit yellow fever.

          For the younger readers here, Dr. Finlay's Casebook was a long running TV & radio series in the UK.

      2. Potemkine Silver badge

        Re: Cul de sac

        There's a small town in Southwest France which is fed up to have its city signs regularly stolen...

        1. MiguelC Silver badge

          Re: Cul de sac

          Not only in France, Austria alsa has an (in)famous village... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fucking,_Austria

        2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

          Re: Cul de sac

          "There's a small town in Southwest France which is fed up to have its city signs regularly stolen..."

          I see your small town in France and raise you one very small town in Austria that has a similar problem.

          As we're down the rabbit hole already... one of the colloquial terms for that sort of contraceptive in German is "Pariser".

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Cul de sac

            "[...] one of the colloquial terms for that sort of contraceptive in German is "Pariser"."

            IIRC in the UK a Durex is a condom - but in Australia it is a roll of sticky tape. In Israel it was the brand name of a scouring pad.

          2. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

            Re: Cul de sac

            one of the colloquial terms for that sort of contraceptive in German is "Pariser"

            cf the French préservatif

      3. andyfromcambridge

        Re: Cul de sac

        I saw that last week and had a chuckle.

        They do drive like maniacs.

        The dutch also swear in english so that there parents can't understand it and tell them off for swearing.

        On an IT note. A certain large dutch semiconductor companies internal IT phone number is 6666.

    4. chivo243 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Cul de sac

      Wow, I though that term was only used in classy upscale gated suburbs in the states... In the lower class areas it's the same name as many jobs... a dead end.

      1. Jim Mitchell

        Re: Cul de sac

        @chivo243

        "cul de sac" is used "in the states" to refer to dead ends that broaden out into a circular shape (bag-like, perhaps...). I spent some formative years living on one, and it wasn't a "classy upscale gated" suburb, but was a suburb. It takes room for this kind of application, so you're not going to find it urban areas where space is at a premium.

    5. james 68

      Re: Cul de sac

      @Oliver2553

      Indeed and if you trace it back to Latin roots you get cullus saccus which literally means "bottom of the sack", not an arse in sight. Basically describing a thing with only one way in or out.

    6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Cul de sac

      "Admittedly, it is not used as street signage. The herds of giggling exchange students may rather be explained by their surprise to find a word they understand."

      Yes, like driving down the autobhan on a coach, aged 13 on a school exchange trip and all the first timers like me giggling insanely every time we passed yet another Ausfart ;-)

      1. foo_bar_baz
        Thumb Up

        Re: Cul de sac

        Reminds me of the time I visited Sweden as a youngster and encountered an advert for a fartfest.

    7. Zakhar

      Re: Cul de sac

      I concur. Alistair you can still improve your French!

      Contrary to what the news says, "cul-de-sac" is used all the time in common spoken French (France), instead of the official word "impasse", although contrary to Olivier, I have seldom heard if figuratively, when we prefer "impasse".

      For road signs you would see "impasse" or "sans issue" instead, because "cul-de-sac" is mostly when speaking.

      Then, the best way to start speaking French is to use the true cognates. We have a lot, probably because Guillaume d'Orange invaded England in 1066 and came with the French they spoke then in Normandy. So indeed, if you say "impasse" you will be right both in French and English, and they are many more like that, a quick search on your favourite search engine will return hundreds of them.

      1. John Presland

        Re: Cul de sac

        Guillaume d'Orange arrived 622 years later and brought with him Dutch.

  6. Unep Eurobats

    Cool

    I heard that the title of the musical Oh, Calcutta! was a corruption of Oh, Quel Cul Tu As!

    Bon chance avec votre Francais, Monsieur Dabbs.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: Cool

      Well, given the latest FBI update, Dabbsy's Cul should be well on the way towards eliciting compliments. Well done, that man!

    2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Cool

      I simply adore multi-lingual puns :-)

    3. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: Cool

      I'd heard it as "Oh, quel queue tu as", which probably means much the same. But I've never heard an explanation of why one would transform it in such a way. I can't imagine that Kenneth Tynan expected to improve the takings by exploiting nostalgia for the Raj.

      Of course, it's "Oh, Kolkata" now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cool

        "I can't imagine that Kenneth Tynan expected to improve the takings by exploiting nostalgia for the Raj."

        In 1965 he was possibly the first person to use the "F word" on live UK TV in an interview. He was always tilting against the censorial Establishment. The Lord Chamberlain's censorship of theatres was only abolished in 1968. A linguistic pun for the 1970 Oh! Calcutta title would have been his style.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Try Belgian French instead, most tech words really are the english word pronounced with a heavy accent. Despite getting 9% in my company French exam, I can still follow most conversations... (well, work ones, the rest of it could be along the lines of 'who invited the bloody argumentative Anglais?'

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      most tech words really are the english word pronounced with a heavy accent

      Depends what you mean by "tech". When my boiler started spouting water in a spectacular fashion, I didn't get very far until I discovered the phrase "la soupape de sécurité a sauté". It's situations like that which reveal that Zola, Sartre, Simenon and Brel don't really prepare you for the realities of daily life.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Err... i'll have the monkey soup and a dried sautéd ritual?

        (and, La chauffage est fucked, mate, pouvez vous peutetre mayday? worked for me.)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "I didn't get very far until I discovered the phrase "la soupape de sécurité a sauté"."

        You would have been just fine if only your postillion had been struck by lightning.

        1. Warm Braw Silver badge

          if only your postillion had been struck by lightning

          I did try to escape the ensuing flood on my hovercraft, but encountered an unexpected hazard..,

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            "I did try to escape the ensuing flood on my hovercraft, but encountered an unexpected hazard..,"

            Eel est saute?

        2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

          Lightning DOES strike

          Friends on holiday camping in France during a thunderstorm subsequently had the wonderful opportunity to explain to the farmer 'my water-carrier has been struck by lightning'.

          And thinking of wondderful phrase-book phrases, I have a German phrase book from the 1960s that has the useful phrase, under 'Travelling by Air', "Will you please open the window".

          1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

            Re: Lightning DOES strike

            "I have a German phrase book from the 1960s that has the useful phrase, under 'Travelling by Air', "Will you please open the window"."

            I remember the helicopter from Malta to Gozo that did have opening windows for all passenger seats. There were two of them, Russian military ones that stayed there when the Soyuz de-unionised.

            I mentioned this to a colleague when I returned to the UK and he said "That's so you can shoot out of them. But one good thing, you're not likely to be brought down by small calibre AA fire, the underpans on those things are indestructible."

  8. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge
  9. Mage Silver badge

    Dabbsy to France

    Best of luck.

    I think though the ex-Pats avoiding plod are more often in Spain?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Working on an IT project in the then EEC in Luxembourg I hoped it would polish my schoolboy French.

    I discovered very quickly that as soon as the locals heard my accent - they usually ignored my attempts to use French and wanted to improve their English. On one memorable occasion a child replied in French in a very disinterested fashion - always apparently repeating the same thing. I was trying to buy an ice cream dispensed in the Mr Whippy style. Having finally decided she was trying to tell me the machine was broken - I gave up. Later on I realised she had been reciting the litany of available flavours.

    In the Centre de Calcul (Computer Centre) the different nationalities used English to communicate. Except there was a weekly departmental meeting that apparently had to be held in French.

    My schoolboy ability with French conjugations deteriorated under the pressure to contribute in the meeting. Fortunately "le modem" and "le terminal" were permitted. In fact all the technical discussions took place outside that meeting - in English. What the meetings taught me was that "la marguerite" was a daisy-wheel, as in a printer - and "ruban" was the ribbon. These were given regular practice every week - a never-ending saga of a box of rubans had been incorrectly supplied by a vendor some months earlier.

    It was on that assignment that a French colleague explained "The problem with the English - is that they believe when the sign up to something - they then have to obey it"

  11. Paul Cooper

    I speak very little Cantonese, my wife's native tongue. However, I can often follow a conversation in Cantonese under one of two constraints: 1) it is with a second generation British member of the family and 2) it is technical in nature. In both cases, every second or third word is English, and Cantonese sentence structure is similar to that of English, so I can pick out enough familiar words to work out what is going on.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      My girlfriend's mother spoke very little English but could understand my Swedish. However my girlfriend had problems with me speaking Swedish. She explained that she was so used to me speaking English that she processed my Swedish words as some unknown English words.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        My mother-in-law won't speak French to me, she says she can't bear to hear her language mangled so badly...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In South Africa many years ago there was an attempt to impose Afrikaans words in place of English terms.

    So a computer was called an "auto-rekenaar" (automatic adding machine). When the very Afrikaans general building switchboard was asked for the "auto-rekenaar kamer" - they could not connect you. If you then said "computer kamer" - it was an instant connection. (kamer = room)

  13. Doctor_Wibble
    Angel

    'Fintech' makes me think of red staplers

    I know it's the wrong word/name but there's something about it that does bring to mind Office Space.

    Back on-topic, 'shampoo' obviously started out as 'chomp-wah', relating to what happens when a foaming-at the mouth animal sinks its teeth into your cul or possibly sac (depending on gender), given that its usual occurrence would be when a person was at a particularly unguarded moment, e.g. washing their hair.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: 'Fintech' makes me think of red staplers

      And if someone would nick my red stapler I'd be foaming at the mouth...

      Anyway, back to shampoo: Gonna Wash That Man Right Out Of My Hair (from South Pacific)

    2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: 'Fintech' makes me think of red staplers

      Forgive my ignorance, but if "fintech" is "fintech" in French, what is it in English?

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: 'Fintech' makes me think of red staplers

        fintech companies are those concerned with the process of creating cybernetic sea creatures. Which is why so many are based in the port cities of London and New York.

        At the moment this means upgrading crustacea - hence websites such as prawnhub.

        Eventually of course we should attain the final goal of the Selachimorpha with dorsally attached collimated beam apparatus.

        That's shark with frikkin laser beam to the rest of us...

  14. Dr_N Silver badge

    Here You Go Mr Dabbs...

    Some pronunciation couching:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCGuwifAgDE

  15. moiety

    You wouldn't be getting any poo anyway because it's sham.

    1. Jon Massey

      Shampoo for my real friends, real poo..

  16. John H Woods Silver badge

    Giggling French Schoolchildren...

    ... usually happy to see giant signs proclaiming "DIRTY" ("SALE") in shop windows all over the average (admittedly not usually brilliantly clean) high street.

    BTW All the best and if you find any interesting opportunities, don't forget to mention them here!

    1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: Giggling French Schoolchildren...

      A sale is even more snigger-inducing when it's a LINGERIE SALE. Talk about washing your dirty linen in public.

  17. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Spaghetti

    The problems of 'translation' always reminds me of a story about a councillor in a very English-speaking area of North-East Wales, during a debate about using more Welsh in Council publications. Apparantly he stood up and sounded off about how Welsh was a dead and pointless language because, 'after all, how can you have any respect for a language that doesn't even have a word for "spaghetti"'.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Spaghetti

      Yeah, as a certain US president once said, the French don't even have a word for entrepreneur ;-)

      1. EddieD

        Re: Spaghetti

        Niles Crane: "What's the french word for 'Light-hearted'?"

        Frasier Crane: "There isn't one"

        A couple of years ago I was having supper in a bistro near Montparnasse, and all the staff were so terrified of my (diabolical) French accent that they suddenly remembered that they spoke English.

  18. Handy Andy

    Destination

    Dunno if you are after staying in the EU or just leaving Blighty, but I can recommend the French speaking part of Switzerland as a destination if its the latter.

    Languages are a pretty relaxed notion here so any attempt at any of the 3 main national languages is welcomed.

    Climate is good, weather and commercial.

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Re: Destination

      And the salaries are massive compared to the UK... Easy access to Lake Geneva and the Alps are also big bonuses.

    2. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Destination

      Not hot enough, sorry, and I can't afford it.

      1. Handy Andy
        Thumb Up

        Re: Destination

        Not many parts of France are warmer AND cheaper than Switzerland, that would be Spain.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Destination

          Visited a tunnel site on the French/Swiss border.

          The English project engineer worked for the Swiss company (high wages, low tax) but lived on the French side (cheap housing, good food) and although they didn't get officially French holidays everyone working on the site did and took August off.

    3. Potemkine Silver badge

      Re: Destination

      Only problem with Switzerland, it was not denazified after WW2.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Destination

        They were just ahead of the curve for "onshoring"

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I see your "bag arse"

    … and raise you a pair of "bag arses".

  20. I am the liquor

    Bigger vegetables?

    What? How big do you need them, and, more importantly, why?

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Bigger vegetables?

      I'm a vegetarian.

      1. Ben Bonsall

        Re: Bigger vegetables?

        A hungry vegetarian.

      2. I am the liquor

        Re: Bigger vegetables?

        But is it not the case that small ones are more juicy?

  21. SysKoll

    Histoires de cul

    Mr. Dabbs,

    In old French, "cul" started life as "bottom" or "back". Hence the term "reculer, meaning to go backwards or to back off.

    You might be amused by the word "cul-de-lampe", which designates ornaments more or less shaped like inverted triangles. This was apparently the standard shape for the bottom of an oil lamp.

    And of course, when drinking expensive liquor among French friends, do not go "cul sec", dry bottom (of the glass), which means chugging down the whole tumbler at once, as it is a sign of poor manners.

    To go back to "arse",yes, that's the most common use of the term today, which is why it's now considered an impolite word.

    Back in the days, a Communist could be unflatteringly called "un cul rouge" (a red arse). But a coal miner would proudly refer to himself as "un cul noir" (a black arse), a term that would probably send you down for racism these days.

  22. lisahhh

    Here in Japan we are even more extreme. We invent our own English words and are very disappointed when the stupid foreigners don't understand their own language.

    Some examples:

    dejikame = digital camera

    sumaho = smartphone

    pasokon = which is derived from Pasonal Computa

  23. Big_Boomer

    Le FrenchTech

    Le French have LOTS of their own words for some tech stuff, but not for others. You will hear them talking about reinstalling the "ordinateur" at "le weekend" from a "clé USB". If you get confused just do what most Brits do when abroad - SHOUT and wave your hands about. Me, I cultivated a Belgian accent years ago so nobody knows I'm British unless I tell them, though I do get comments about being "Le plus grand Belge que j'ai jamais vu de ma vie!"

    1. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

      Re: Le FrenchTech

      "Me, I cultivated a Belgian accent years ago so nobody knows I'm British unless I tell them"

      Belgian accent in French here as well, though I'm not sure how I acquired it.

      It can be quite amusing to get compliments on my English when called on to do a spot of interpreting.

      But when asked by a French taxi driver if I'm Belgian I'm never sure if there's an implied insult.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Le FrenchTech

        The only time I used my schoolboy French in earnest was on a trip to Brussels for an IT meeting. The taxi driver gave me a running commentary about all the sights we were passing. I was amazed I understood - and that he appeared to understand my answers.

        In Stockholm the local office complimented me on my Swedish accent - just like someone from Gothenburg apparently. They then explained that was equivalent to a Scouse accent in English.

        On the way home in Denmark I replied to a receptionist's questions instinctively in Swedish. Then I handed over my passport and she said "oh - you are English".

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Le FrenchTech

          "The taxi driver gave me a running commentary about all the sights we were passing."

          The standing complaint in most large cities, espically capitals, is that the taxis drivers a foreign and barley speak $local_language, so it's quite possible your schoolboy French worked well with someone else who only spoke "schoolboy" French too :-)

  24. Dr. G. Freeman

    Well, at the Organisation européenne pour la recherche nucléaire, most of the time English is spoken, with the native language (or not) speaker's selection of swear words peppering the conversation. It is not uncommon though for at least four countries' worth of profanities to be used simultaneously in a sentence, depending on what/who they are describing.

    Personally I can't speak Greek, but after working for a few months with a couple of techs from Athens, can swear in it fluently.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In the 1980s the people who served coffee at the Jean Monet building in Luxembourg seemed to be able to handle orders in any of the then member countries' languages. Wonder if they upgraded that skill for the current 28 countries?

      We had a Japanese colleague seconded to our department in England for a year. One day he was obviously frustrated with something on his laptop - and the office was amused to hear him say "bugger!" - in a Yorkshire accent. No prizes for guessing from whom he had learned that.

  25. Potemkine Silver badge

    Auld Alliance vs Perfidious Albion

    Mr. Dabbs, just in case you cross the Channel, put forward your Scottish ancestry rather than your English one ^^

    (and congrats for video-citing "Telephone"!)

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Auld Alliance vs Perfidious Albion

      I assure you if there's another Scottish referendum to quit the UK, I will be first in line to apply for a Scottish passport.

      1. EddieD

        Re: Auld Alliance vs Perfidious Albion

        Nah. I already live here, so I'll be ahead of you.

  26. Jon Massey
    Facepalm

    No poo

    Big fad over here as well. Got right confused when a bunch of the ex-lady's friends were posting triumphantly about how they'd gone "no poo" for a week and it turned out they were just being mucky buggers and didn't have chronic constipation.

  27. Kolchack

    As a rule...

    when writing IT documentation in French then I manage to have all the proper French technical terms instead of the more usual English ones.

    Just to check if someone reads it...

  28. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

    No tea bags, I buy loose tea from Harney & Sons online, but you're in luck -- they do sell it in sachets.

  29. Grunchy

    I heard randonneur isn't even approximately French, despite Tour de France.

  30. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Cul de Sac

    I always thought it meant:-

    "Bring that juggernaut down our road mate, and we'll chop your balls off"

  31. mad_dr
    Pint

    Congrats Dabbsy

    A quick congrats on the weight-loss, Dabbsy; 17.5kg is no mean feat. Well done. Have one of these to make up for it ------>

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    quoi!

    I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty-headed animal food trough wiper! I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: quoi!

      @AC

      I fart in your general direction!

      I'd keep off the Soylent if I were you

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/10/28/soylent/

  33. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    FBI Update

    By Toutatis! At this rate, you'd be gone from Obelix to Asterix proportions

    http://www.asterix.com/galerie/fonds-d-ecrans/fous-rires/fond1.jpg

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: FBI Update

      "For Chris Zaremba, a former software salesman, the light-bulb moment occurred nine years ago when he was 50, weighed 18st and had cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels too high for a doctor to endorse his pilot’s permit. “I learnt that it wasn’t too late at 50 and turned my life around,” says Zaremba, who has since become a fitness model and personal trainer."

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/wellbeing/fitness/over-40-and-fitter-than-ever-a-grown-up-guide/

  34. Mike Shepherd
    Meh

    Cul = guele ?

    I thought it was a rendering of "gueule de sac".

  35. itzman

    Tojours bolleaux, je dites..

  36. Frozit

    Canada, Eh?

    You could consider Canada as your Brexit. French and English as national languages. We watch the rest of the world go insane, then go out and shovel the snow off the driveway.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OED says...

    cul-de-sac

    (ˈkʌldəsæk; formerly as Fr., kydsak, often kyl də sæk)

    Pl. culs-de-sac.

    [F. = sack-bottom, bag-bottom.]

    1.1 Anat. A vessel, tube, sac, etc. open only at one end, as the cæcum or ‘blind gut’; the closed extremity of such a vessel, etc.

    1738 Med. Ess. & Observ. (ed. 2) IV. 92 An Infundibuliform Cul de Sac or Thimble-like cavity.    1809 Brodie in Phil. Trans. XCIX. 163 The œsophagus‥terminated in a cul-de-sac.    1841–71 T. R. Jones Anim. Kingd. (ed. 4) 878 In many Ruminants‥a cul de sac occupies the commencement of the vascular bulb of the urethra.

  38. theModge

    En Suite

    Can't believe we're this far in and none of you have mentioned an "in room". Given that we no longer have chamber pots this isn't really used in France, but we've hung on to it.

  39. Barely registers

    Mort et impôts

    @Mr Dabbs - Wish you well in your new surroundings. It's pretty good here.

    When I moved out to France, still as a full-time employee of a UK company, that company had to register with the URSSAF tax body and get a Siret number. I pay tax/NI to France, *as does the company*. It was a bit of a runaround.

    If that's going to be your situation, check out Titre Firmes Etrangeres - TFE - here: https://www.tfe.urssaf.fr

  40. PCopissa

    cul de something

    "Cul-de-sac" is a commonly used french substantive. Moreover, it is not the only french word (or compound word for that matter) that contains "cul" and yet carries no rude or offensive meaning. Somebody already mentioned the rarer "cul-de-lampe" (an architectural artifact) and the very common "cul sec". A few more jumps to my mind :

    - "Cul-de-bouteille" : the bottom of a bottle, usually wine or champagne, with a distinct shape. Figuratively very thick spectacles, Sarthe-style.

    - "Cul-de-basse-fosse" : underground prison cell.

    - "Cul-de-jatte": person with no lower limbs.

    And our wonderful Google (pardon, Gougueule) reveals others like

    - "sur cul" : maritime speak for a boat with a stern deeper in water than the bow.

    - "cul-de-four" : spherical vaulted ceiling shaped roughly like an oven

    - a variety of qualifiers to distinguish animal species ("cul-blanc", "cul-roux", "cul-noir"...)

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