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.
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 …
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.
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...
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.
" 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.
'(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.
@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.
"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.
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".
"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.")
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. :-)
"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... ;-)
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.
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.
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.
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.
"[...] 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
"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.
"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.]
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.)
"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.
"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".
"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.
"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 ;-)
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.
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.
"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.
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?'
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.
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".
"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."
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"
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.
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)
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.
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...
... 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!
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"'.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!"
"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.
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".
"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 :-)
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.
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.
"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."
(ˈkʌldəsæk; formerly as Fr., kydsak, often kyl də sæk)
[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.
@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
"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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