Things that sound better in French

Je ne sais quoi.

I love Johnny Marr. Why do they keep moaning about Johnny Marr? smiley

Bournemouth and Weymouth.  Sound much more exotic as the French would say them.

jouissance (untranslatable?)

il y a du monde au balcon

all the world is on the balcony (doesn’t work in English)

see also Italian:

“Maserati four door” or

“Maserati quattroporte”


bella cupola de firenze

It's not in French but I remember a radio 4 documentary about Marseille and the rougher aspects.

They interviewed a native and asked him how he felt about coming from Marseille and in the most stereotypical 'ello 'ello accent he said "it is like your mother... she is an 'oar and she may be an 'oar but she is still your mother"  

I almost voted remain because of that one interview 

Sissy Fuss , 15 July @ 14:29

Vladimir Putin is pronounced Vladimir Poutine in French .

If it was putain he would have invaded the DOM-TOMs.

Eh, putain! (for everything)

Casse toi, pauvre con.

Va enculer

Va te faire foutre

J'en ai ras le bol.

J'en ai marre.

Je m'en fou.

Je m'en tape,

Arrete les putain des conneries.



UNO (for the UN)

COI (for IOC)

CE (EC  European Commission)

French cars became sexy when it changed sex from le voiture to la voiture (in Germany it is neuter: Das Auto; a child is neuter also: Das Kind).


du monde au balcon is a great idiom

the Germans render it as “sie hat Holz vor der Hutte”

she has wood in front of the house 


Yes, SJ, but the Germans also use der Wagen for a car.

And while it is das Kind, they use der Junge for a boy 

They use das Maedchen for a girl (but only because the -chen diminutive suffix is always neuter - die Magd is an old skool word for girl but also has overtones of fille de joie)

I like “capote anglaise” (the French rendering of a “French letter”) and “filer a l’anglaise” - to take French leave (ie do a runner/retreat ignominiously).



And I was always childishly amused by the verlan “meuf” because it sounded a bit like muff…

But agreed re Poutine which makes him sound like a Canadian chips, cheese and gravy “delicacy”

Jack of Hearts. Indeed so.

Correct about the canadien Poutine dish.

The Germans call capote anglaise ein Pariser.


Schildkroete - a tortoise (I quite like the idea of it being an armoured toad…).

I love how literal some German words are but the best is durchfall.

I think ‘Wiener-schnitzel-licking finger’ should enter Duden and Merriam-Webster if not Oxford dictionary.

Nothing sounds better.

French is just silly. There is NO FRENCH SHAKESPEARE No one even close.

Stop being a bunch of posy nonces with your french tattle and remember where you were born


Yes, the French will just have to content themselves with Rabelais, Montaigne, Descartes, Pascal, Moliere, Corneille, Racine, La Rochefoucauld, Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau, Baudelaire, Hugo, Balzac, Stendhal, Zola, Camus, Sartre…

It’s interesting there isn’t as monolithic a French author as Shakespeare (almost like the English only managed one world class literary figure between the mid c16th and the Romantics.

The Germans have Goethe, I suppose, who was as monolithic culturally and linguistically as Shakespeare (and essayed a wider range of forms and possibly had wider-ranging intellectual interests, although he was a fan of Shakespeare, as was Voltaire). And quite a lot of other word heavyweights since.


As Kylie sang “Je ne said pas pourquoi”

Joe Le Taxi wouldn’t have quite sounded right as “Joe the taxi driver”

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir.

Although even sung it’s far too formal to be taken seriously.

Suppose it might work if you are asking two, or more, people. 

Risky?  What do you think?

Jackofhearts, indeed the French have Rabelais, Montaigne, Descartes, Pascal, Moliere, Corneille, Racine, La Rochefoucauld, Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau, Baudelaire, Hugo, Balzac, Stendhal, Zola, Camus, Sartre…

But tell me this... how many books have you read, or plays have you seen, by these guys? And no, Les Mis does not count.

For my part I have read some Camus and Sartre, and short stories by Voltaire, but that is it. Hardly in the same league as Shakespeare or even Dickens. But the names sound great. Descartes sounds so much better than Carter, Racine is better than Root.

Gargantua, Pantagruel, Tiers Livre and Quart Livre by Rabelais

A generous selection of Montaigne’s Essais

Descartes’ Discours sur la methode 

Pascal’s Pensees and Lettres Provinciales

Pretty much everything Moliere wrote apart from a couple of the more obscure short farces like Dom Garcie de Navarre

Racine - Tite et Berenice, Andromaque, Phedre, Britannicus

Corneille - Horace, Le Cid, Medee, Cinna, Le Menteur and a couple of the alleged “comedies” - La place royale and La galerie du palais

La Rochefoucauld’s Maximes

Voltaire - all of the Contes, the Lettres Philosophiques, the Dictionnaire Philosophique and La Traite sur la Tolerance

Diderot - La Religieuse and some of the Encyclopedie entries 

Rousseau - Du contrat social

Baudelaire - Les fleurs du mal

Hugo - Les Miserables

One of Balzac’s novels but I can’t quite remember which now, probably Le Pere Goriot

None of Stendhal because I don’t have a hard-on for Napoleon and I’d had quite enough of ridiculously long novels with Hugo

Zola - a bit of the journalism and the J’accuse letter

Camus - L’etranger and La peste

Sartre - Les Mains Sales and Huis clos 


That do for you, sonny?


Or shall I start on the German texts?







Voltaire liked Shakespeare (whom he considered a genie sauvage) 

So did Goethe

Dickens and Hugo quite similar in some ways

Incidentally, that is by no means all of the French lit I’ve read just the authors named above.

Voltaire wrote an awful lot - I’ve also read some of his poetry now I come to think of it (Le mondain, Poeme sur le desastre de Lisbonne), but not his histories, only one of his (numerous) tragedies which were widely praised in his day but are unfashionable now (and essentially studies in neo-classicism that Racine and Corneille did earlier and better).


As for Shakespeare, well, Hamlet is profound, Macbeth and King Lear are good, not read Othello, Merchant of Venice interesting, Midsummer Night’s Dream good, some of the sonnets good, Titus Andronicus very dark.

He was a genuine innovator in theatre and an important writer on a global scale, but so were eg Dante, Boccaccio, Cervantes and many others in various literary traditions and languages.

Fuggin hell Jack. You win.

You imply you read them in French, and if so, chapeau.

I still contend that any sentence starting

"Rabelais, Montaigne, Descartes, Pascal, Moliere, Corneille, Racine, La Rochefoucauld, Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau, Baudelaire, Hugo, Balzac, Stendhal, Zola, Camus, Sartre…"

should end with the words "your boys took a hell of a beating tonight".

Well, before I was a lawyer I was a modern linguist. When the law students were diligently working through case law and problems, I was mostly pissed or hungover and reading passed the time before the bars opened more congenially than, y’know, going to lectures or something.

But my dirty little secret is I know an awful lot more about French and German lit and intellectual history than I do about English lit…

My even dirtier secret is I read Les Mis in English translation and might have “skim read” some of the lengthier digressions.

There’s a wonderful Baudelaire poem called “La Chevelure”

I suggested to my (stern, Calvinist) French tutor that it might be, y’know, just a leetle bit, about oral sex.

He was not amused.

You may recall that Uncle Monty in “Withnail & I” is a big fan of Baudelaire.

Baudelaire was a fooking deviant. Also a laudanum addict.

I think it was “dark alcove” that got me thinking along those lines.


Great crass pick-up line, though - “You put me in mind of Baudelaire. Can I have a drink from your gourd?”

almost as good as the real pick-up line used by my German tutor on his wife (whose maiden name was “Garden”) - “Garden, you say? In that case, I shall have to cultivate you” 

sly allusion to the conclusion of Candide and crude double entendre; evidently it worked (on both levels)


He is lucky he did not get done over by the MeToo movement...

This was over 40 years ago, they did things differently then.

But yes, would probably be difficult to get away with today.

I’m liking “wood in front of the house” - very German somehow.

with a certain “allo’ allo’” joie de vivre I reworked:

il y a du monde au balcon

for a former girlfriend into:

il y a du monde dans le bassement 

I thought it was hilarious