Fun with French

There are somethings that your French teachers just don’t teach you. This isn’t because they’re bad French teachers; by contrast, I’ve always felt my teachers have all prepared me extremely well for my experience abroad. Rather, there are certain things that are more commonly learned by living in France. Let’s have a mini test and see how you fare. Bon courage! Let me know how you do in the comments.

[Keep in mind the people I talked to the most in French were adults]

    1. comme un jour sans pain
      1. An agonizingly long experience
      2. Something completely ridiculous
      3. A day with particularly bad food
    2. il pleut des chordes
      1. It’s drizzling
      2. It’s raining
      3. It’s pouring
    3. passer quelquechose à la trappe
      1. to forget something
      2. to hide something
      3. to be tricked
    4. Kitch
      1. Trendy
      2. Cheesy
      3. Funny
    5. Cassé
      1. Said after a good joke
      2. Said if someone says something lame
      3. Said after a good “burn”
    6. un rat de bibliotèque
      1. Someone who reads a lot
      2. Someone who doesn’t take care of their books
      3. a nerd
    7. un garçon manqué
      1. an effeminate man
      2. a tomboy
      3. an only daughter
    8. chanter en yaourt
      1. to sing badly
      2. to sing softly
      3. to sing without knowing the words
    9. avoir la tête sous la guillotine
      1. To be screwed
      2. To be forced to do something
      3. To be punished
    10. casse-toi
      1. Get lost
      2. Hurry
      3. Turn around
    11. être bourré
      1. to be wasted
      2. to be full after a meal
      3. to be large
    12. occupes – toi de tes oignons
      1. Take care of matters at home first
      2. Keep an eye on something cooking
      3. Mind your own business
    13. avoir des fourmis dans les jambes
      1. To be uncomfortable
      2. Your legs fell asleep
      3. To be excited
    14. Faire quelquechose comme un pied
      1. To do something unskillfully
      2. To do something quickly
      3. To do something automatically
    15. enterrement de vie de jeune homme/garçon
      1. Funeral for a young man
      2. Graduation
      3. Bachelor Party
    16. “putain” is most commonly used to mean
      1. whore
      2. great!
      3. damn
    17. se planter
      1. to screw up
      2. to stay put
      3. to garden
    18. When answering your cell, you say “Bonjour”
      1. True/False
    19. French people exclusively use a 24h clock
      1. True/False
    20. “Je t’aime mon petit choux,” means “I love you my little cabbage”
      1. True/False
    21. “Je t’en prie” means “you’re welcome”
      1. True/False
    22. People say “mon oeil” to call your bluff
      1. True/False
    23. The most popular pop music in France is in French
      1. True/False
    24. French people wear berets and carry baguettes on their bicycles
      1. True/False

Answers

  1. comme un jour sans pain
    1. An agonizingly long experience
    2. Something completely ridiculous
    3. A day with particularly bad food
  2. il pleut des chordes
    1. It’s drizzling
    2. It’s raining
    3. It’s pouring
  3. passer quelquechose à la trappe
    1. to forget something
    2. to hide something
    3. to be tricked
  4. Kitch
    1. Trendy
    2. Cheesy
    3. Funny
  5. Cassé
    1. Said after a good joke
    2. Said if someone says something lame
    3. Said after a good “burn” – OK, I never actually heard a French person say this; but I did hear a Belgian say it.
  6. un rat de bibliotèque
    1. Someone who reads a lot – in English we would say book-worm
    2. Someone who doesn’t take care of their books
    3. a nerd
  7. un garçon manqué
    1. an effeminate man
    2. a tomboy
    3. an only daughter
  8. chanter en yaourt
    1. to sing badly
    2. to sing softly
    3. to sing without knowing the words – This can either mean mumbling, or a French tween belting out the lyrics to Ke$sha but not having any idea what they’re saying. 
  9. avoir la tête sous la guillotine
    1. To be screwed
    2. To be forced to do something – In my psych class, we were talking about Milgrim’s experiment and my prof used this. In America, we use guns, in France, it’s a guillotine. (I’ve also been corrected on this one, but that’s definitely what my prof said so it’s staying.)
    3. To be punished
  10. casse-toi
    1. Get lost
    2. Hurry
    3. Turn around
  11. être bourré
    1. to be wasted (drunk – if you say ivre among French friends, they may laugh. To the police or the parents, stick with ivre [not that I have experience talking about being drunk with either of those groups])
    2. to be full after a meal
    3. to be large
  12. occupes – toi de tes oignons
    1. Take care of matters at home first
    2. Keep an eye on something cooking
    3. Mind your own business
  13. avoir des fourmis dans les jambes
    1. To be uncomfortable
    2. Your legs fell asleep – literally to have ants in your legs. I learned this one while talking to a 5-year-old
    3. To be excited
  14. Faire quelquechose comme un pied
    1. To do something unskillfully
    2. To do something quickly
    3. To do something automatically
  15. enterrement de vie de jeune homme/garçon
    1. Funeral for a young man
    2. Graduation
    3. Bachelor Party. Literally the burial of the life of boyhood (doesn’t the English term just sound so much fun?).
  16. “putain” is most commonly used to mean
    1. whore
    2. great!
    3. damn (this was a word I heard said quite often. Though literally, it means “whore,” it is used like “f**k” in moments of frustration, surprise, or awestruck and seems to be able to be transformed into the adj. by adding “de.” )
  17. se planter
    1. to screw up
    2. to stay put
    3. to garden
  18. When answering your cell, you say “Bonjour”
    1. True/False – One time, a friend called, I answered the phone and said “bonjour” and just heard laughing on the other end. Apparently that’s “only what secretaries or someone in an office say.” Just say “allo.” 
  19. French people exclusively use a 24h clock
    1. True/False – If you need a specific time (eg. can you pick me up from the train station at 15h35?) use the 24 hr clock. If the time is evident, (eg. do you want to go out tonight at 9?) it seems like most people just use the 12 hrs.
  20. “Je t’aime mon petit choux,” means “I love you my little cabbage”
    1. True/False – well…choux does mean cabbage, but it can also refer to the small pastries used in the croquembouche, the traditional French wedding cake.
  21. “Je t’en prie” means “you’re welcome”
    1. True/False -but it seems to be used for a lot of other things too. Whenever I would excuse myself from the table, apologize, or something of the like, my host mom would say, “je t’en prie.” Never quite figured out a good English equivalent.
  22. People say “mon oeil” to call your bluff
    1. True/False – but you’ll sound like you’re about 60. Same goes for zut.
  23. The most popular Pop music in France is in French
    1. True/False – in fact, I got a very judgmental look for saying I like Christophe Mae 
  24. French people wear berets and carry baguettes on their bicycles
    1. True/False – It’s mainly the older people that wear berets. Almost every day on my way home, I would see a bunch of old French guys in berets playing petanque. How French! Also, bikes are one of the most efficient ways to get around the city. Bread is an essential staple of French cuisine. Since I lived by a boulangerie, I saw so many French people riding away with bread under one arm or in a bag. 
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