A recent post by Sydney Bristol on Shelley Munro’s blog brought back memories of Paris.
I have visited Paris several times, but this particular trip I was with my then-boyfriend. Before we left, I collected a list of things NOT to say in French:
Un petit coin is a euphemism for bathroom
Sortir is another way to describe sleeping with someone (and not just spending the night). A friend made this mistake when telling her French grandparents she was about to go out to eat.
Je suis pleine is another way to say I’m knocked up. Oh, yes, and if you’re knocked up in British-speak, you’re tired.
We visited London, then went on to Paris, where a cousin was doing research for her PhD Thesis in History at the Sorbonne. I was using a diaphram at the time. The blasted thing sprang a hole in London, so we trotted down to a pharmacy and bought a condom (protective).
Then we went on to Paris, where I developed a nasty cold and runny nose (J’ai le nez qui coule) (ou, j’avais, because right now I’m cold-free). The expression in French is almost the same as in English — in French one has the nose that runs (flows).
Then we ran out of condoms, so I asked my cousin what the word was in French:
Me: How do you say condom in French?
K: I don’t know. I’ve never had to buy one.
Me: But aren’t you and Jean-Paul (K’s French boyfriend) …
K: Yes, but Jean-Paul buys them.
Me: Aren’t we meeting him for lunch?
Me: Well, I’m going to ask him what the word is. (un protectif).
Notice how close the word is to the British equivalent. Aren’t languages fun?