Published on February 12th, 2011 | by Ann Rickard


Thank you, pardon my French

My baby granddaughter said her first French word last week, which is pretty remarkable seeing as she’s an Australian baby living in Tewantin. She’s 20 months old and saying quite a lot of words already, her favourite, as it is with all toddlers, ‘no’. I want my granddaughter to excel in everything she does and to be fluent in French. Obviously, the best way for this to happen is for her to learn that sexy language from this tender baby age. The fact that no one around her speaks French is proving a bit of a handicap. So in pursuit of imparting my learned wisdom on to this precious grandchild I’ve been learning French myself. The idea was that I would speak only French to her when she was in my care so she would pick it up automatically and become bilingual before she could even say bilingual. But my French has not improved beyond “bonjour’’, “merci’’ and “c’est bon”, although I am quite familiar with the expression, trou de cul, which, I believe, has a literal meaning of “hole in the bottom” (I’ll leave it up to you to work out its more vernacular implication). I have heard French people use this vulgar expression and make it sound glorious with their luscious accent. Pronounced “true de ku”, it’s very insulting – and I apologise profusely to all you French people for using it within the borders of this normally refined column – but sometimes you just have to let your inner vulgarity have its way. All curse words sound gorgeous in French. If you learn just a few and get their pronunciations right, they will sound sexy and pleasing and you can use them as disgusting insults cunningly disguised as obsequious flattery. “My, I’ve always known your actions made you a great example of a prime trou de cu in the community,’’ you can say to your deadly foes. Deadly foes, by their very nature, are always smug, superior types who would never admit to not knowing a French expression, so they will just smile broadly and thank you for the compliment. Here’s something else I’ve learnt about French words and pronunciation and I share it with you in good faith in case you intend travelling to France because you will almost certainly use these words: merci beaucoup. You will want to say merci beaucoup every time you are served in a shop or restaurant or are given assistance of any kind. But here is your warning. If you pronounce merci beaucoup incorrectly with a distinct Australian twang, it takes on an entirely different meaning. Instead of your merci beaucoup meaning “thank you very much” it will come out as “thank you, nice arse”. Don’t say you never learn anything from me. But enough of these rude words. I’m letting myself down badly this week, especially as I began this normally genteel column talking about the enchanting 20-month-old granddaughter. Back to her speaking French. There she was in my care last week having her first taste of a fizzy drink. Of course, I shouldn’t have given her a sip of my ginger ale when her mother has spent almost two years training her palate to love only milk and water. But I couldn’t resist. The little angel wanted some of my ginger ale and she was going to have it. Her darling face lit up with happiness when the bubbles fizzed into her mouth and her appreciation was so total she cried thank-you-more all in one breath. After many more ginger ale sips, each followed by a loud and appreciative thank-you-more, I encouraged a merci upon her and she finally blurted out merci-more in beautiful French accent. So proud I was. Now I’ve got the merci right, best I learn the French word for more. She says that a lot. And while I’m at it, I should learn the piano because I also want my granddaughter to be an accomplished concert pianist. I also have ambitions for her to be a classical guitarist and a virtuoso violinist, but that’s just too much learning ahead for me. PS: I promise I will never say trou de cul in front of my granddaughter. P.P.S. Further apologies to all French people for absuing your divine language. ? Read more of Ann on Thank you, pardon my French LAST THE WORD Learning a sexy new language has its traps … for all ages “But


About the Author

is a Noosa (Australia) local and author of six successful books, all humorous travel narratives. In 2005 Ann won the prestigious ASTW’s Australian Travel Writer of the Year and in 2007 she won the ASTW Travel Book of the Year. Ann takes a culinary tour to the South of France in June every year . Ann writes travel, dining and columns for the Sunshine Coast Daily and is the Life editor of the Noosa News. Ann also maintains a well read and popular blog site. Ann’s travels have seen her explore cuisines all over the world.

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