Friday, January 20, 2006

French Friday!

I've mentioned my inlaws before. I could search for the posts, but I haven't had enough coffee yet. But the main thing you need to know is....

They. Are. French.

At the risk of insulting french people, let me explain why this is an issue....

I'm. NOT. French.

I have nothing against the french. I really don't. The problem is, they all know french and english. Which is great. I envy them. But they expect ME to know french. Why? Because of all the french I needed growing up in Alberta? Yes, fine, now I can look across the river from main street where I live and SEE Quebec, but that's just the last few years.

I know a lot of ya'll think ALL Canadians can speak french. Do you think anyone that says "ya'll" in normal conversation speaks anything but english? I don't blame you. It's TV and movies. It's the way we are portrayed. Canadians are all backwoods hicks that live in cabins and pick their teeth with whittled down moose horns(antlers?)...or they are french. And in Montreal.

I've only been to Montreal once, and we just drove through at 3 AM on our way to Maine. It was dark.

The point is, we are NOT all french. But my inlaws feel I should be. Or at least try. It's not that I don't want to try, it's that I know I can't. I can't even say my own damn last name after 5 years. I took french class in school. I was OK with the written part. But as soon as I tried to speak it, it came out with a drawl. I got yelled at. The teacher thought I was poking fun. I can't do a British accent, either. Shouldn't someone yell at me for that?

So, now we are in a place where I occasionally have to deal with french . And it can be quite confusing.

Funny Tara Doesn't Know French Story Number One:
The first time hubby took to me to Ottawa, we were driving down the main highway while I read the street signs. Finally I looked at him and said" What the Hell is a 'Chemin'? (Che-min)
"A what?" he says. "A Chemin. That big sign up there said Chemin." After laughing for a bit, he informs me that 'Chemin' (pardon my accent, but it's more like Sha-man) is a word for Street.
This was even funnier when he told my inlaws about it. They all looked at each other and wondered what a twit my husband married.

Funny Tara Doesn't Know French Story Number Duex:
Just before Christmas, we were driving to my MIL's house. Now, I am starting to get used to seeing french signs up in Ottawa. I'm actually getting pretty OK at deciphering them. Maybe not word for word, but I can usually get the gist of it.
We were passing Canadian Tire, and the sign below the main sign had the weekly special on it. In french. It had me stumped. So I asked hubby "What the helll is a Pneus?" (Pe-NOOSE). He looked at me funny and asked "Are you being serious, or just being a smartass?" I assured him that I really am that french-stupid, so he told me it was 'Tire'. As in Canadian Tire. The big store where they sell tires. Well, how the hell should I know?! It's not like anyone ever buys tires there!

I imagine those stories are a lot funnier if you know french. At least that's what I gather, since all the french people that have heard them have laughed at me.

Anyway, the whole point to this post is that I am (secretly, so don't tell) trying to learn more french. I am looking up random french words on a daily basis, so I can maybe recognize a few once in a while. And maybe know what my inlaws are saying about me.

Today's word is: “ficher” (fee-shay)

Definition: (ranges from inf to slang) - to do, give, put, leave
Qu'est-ce qu'il fiche ? - What the heck is he doing?
Fiche-moi la paix ! - Leave me the hell alone! Shut up!
Il me fiche la migraine - He gives me a headache
Fiche-le sur la table/dans un tiroir - Stick it on the table/in a drawer
Fiche(-moi) le camp ! - Get lost!
Ça lui a fichu un coup - He was touched, That touched him
Je m'en fiche - I could care less, I don't give a damn

This word may come in handy. Stay tuned for more.

French words and definitions are courtesy of

P.S. Don't forget to check out my tenant's blog, Life According to Princess Grace!


Blogger Karen said...

Ficher. Gotta remember that. I took 2 years of French in high school, but my years of Spanish have now made me forget French. I am one person who did NOT think everyone in Canada spoke French. I know very little about Canada except that it has produced several excellent blogs such as yours and Carmi's.

Have a great weekend. Here via Michele....

10:46 a.m.  
Blogger Suz said...

Thanks for the comment on my blog via Michele.

I dont think its right that your in-laws keep trying to change you.

Love your blog and the things you have made. I can crochet but only simple things like blankets and scarves :/

Hugs Suz

11:22 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ooch! Well, you know what Steve Martin says...Those french have to have a word for everything! They can't just say 'hat', they have to say 'chapeau'!
Good luck with your french lessons! I attempted 1 year of french in high school and can only say one sentence which is this: Spanish is easier!

11:25 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel your pain, Tara!

I grew up in Baton Rouge, LA, and now wherever I go (and I suspect it will be like this for the rest of my life) people ask me to "speak cajun".

I do not speak cajun.

I have never been in a swamp while not crossing a bridge in a secure vehicle.

And unlike French, one cannot really learn to "speak cajun", it's just something you *do*. Oh well!

Michele sent me ;)

11:42 a.m.  
Blogger Shannon said...

here from micheles...isnt the word Crochet french????
see so you do know french

12:09 p.m.  
Blogger Vanessa said...

I took 3 years of french in high school. One would think that I would remember *something* but no. One of my aunts has been a high school french teacher for about 25 years and is very fluent. So is her daughter. None of these linguistic skills have rubbed off on me.
However, there is always babelfish!

12:11 p.m.  
Blogger Chrixean said...

I had trouble dealing with French clients before. I'm a little wary of being around them in meetings because they usually talk French in front of you and then start laughing and then they don't tell you what they just talked about so you're like..."what the f**?" I felt what they did was rude especially since it was a business meeting with our office staff. Not that i have anything against the French, just thgose two turds that came over.
Anyway, here via Michele's!

12:29 p.m.  
Blogger kontan said...

i love the idea of knowing several this point i would settle for a second with conversational ability. it does sound like you have a very useful word of the day!

here from michele's and enjoyed my is not often i read a y'all in a post. wouldn't happen to be canadian by way of Alabama or Mississippi, US :)

kontan jou!

12:48 p.m.  
Blogger kontan said...

I'm back, just read your profile and fav movies...I LOVED Escape to Witch Mountain and Return to Witch Mountain!

12:50 p.m.  
Blogger srp said...

Here from Michele.

Have to agree that in-laws should accept you as you are. They should REALLY appreciate your efforts to learn French. If they don't they are not worthy of you. Hope the hubby is on your side in this.

1:59 p.m.  
Blogger Tara said...

Just so ya'll don't get the wrongidea....I LOVE my inlaws. And the love me. I probably should have mentioned that sooner, lol.
And my husband doesn't speak french, either, even though he is fluent. If they ask him a question in french, he answers in english. So he doesn't care if I know it or not.
Konton, no, I'm all Canadian. But we have a west way up here, too, lol.

2:09 p.m.  
Blogger Jean-Luc Picard said...

Why can't the French speak English like everyone else!

Michele sent my this way.

3:22 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do I know where you are coming from. I married into an English family and there is no way that I can master that accent. They have the weirdest way of saying walk and chalk and even after 20 years, I still can't copy his accent. And then there is the Marmite thing.

Enjoyed your little French lesson. I just might use it on him lol...

4:04 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That sounds a little like my situation. My bf's family is from Quebec, and they speak 'French Canadian' French. I'm bilingual, but my mother's side of the family is from France, and it turns out that the French I speak is *very* different from the French his family speaks.

We get by, but some of the discussions are a bit weird. ;)

8:29 p.m.  
Blogger *Crochet Mom* said...

I did giggle at the stories..I am sorry *hangs head*.
I am french...and my husband does NOT know french either..and the kicker..he has a bristish accent *ehehehehe*. (he hails from England)

I noticed when i lived in Pembroke that there were alot more french speaking done. Here, in the Toronto area, NONE..ZIP..I miss hearing french!

8:31 p.m.  
Blogger Lisa said...

ack! I'm intimdated by French enough as it is. I can't even imagine having French in-laws. Stay strong! lol

Michele sent me today.

1:44 a.m.  
Blogger Lisa said...

p.s. Reading through your blog has me laughing outloud, so I hope you don't mind that I blog rolled ya!

1:47 a.m.  
Blogger LadyLinoleum said...

Okay, my dad was French Canadian. His first language...French (obviously). All of my family on dad's side spoke...yep, French. Did the dude even try to teach any of us kids? Um, that would be a no. So, when the Rioux clan got together, the English speaking, we, children of my father, would sit and try to figure out what the hell was going on because what did they speak when we were, yeah, French! I feel yer pain...

4:27 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Tara. It's Chickity China. Thought I'd pop in tonight while I have a few extra minutes to play. I was very surprised to see you're a fellow Canadian.

I'm actually from New Brunswick...the bilingual the whole French thing is a nightmare here.

I'm English-speaking but I can remember a lot of the French I learned 20 years ago in school. But, that French won't get me a good job. I live in a government town and you pretty much have to be fluently bilingual to get ANY government job, which really burns my ass.

I also know what you mean about sooooooooo many people assuming all Canadians speak French.

What's up with that??!!

8:07 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had three years of French in High School. I was generally an A or A+ student but I didn't recognize ONE of those words (lol). The peneus thing had me in hysterics. GEE, I would have thought it sounded like SOMETHING ELSE. How does that translate to being "tire?"

Thanks for the laugh. How are the lessons coming? Oui, oui? or No, no?

9:36 p.m.  

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