Favourite French Phrases
This post was prompted by Jamon on SansGod.
Favourite French Phrases - does that mean the phrases that the French like to use or my favorite French Phrases?
I've noticed a few phrases the french use a lot:
"en principe"; "normalment"; "a priori"; "si tous va bien" and they all mean the same thing "normally", "in principle", "all else being equal". If ever you ask a frenchman for an estimate of time or cost he'll hedge it with one of those phrases.
English people often pepper their sentences with "right?" as in "I was walkin down the road, right? And I saw Dennis, right?" Well the french do the same thing, but with the phrase "tu vois" - "you see?" "tu prend le pain, tu vois, et tu le tartine tu vois" And the "tu vois" gets contracted down so it sounds like "tu as"
French equivalents of "err" or "um" are "beh" or "eh beh". Makes them sound like a flock of sheep. a combination like "eh beh, dis donc, quand meme" would be the same as "yes, well, no, fine". or "yeah but, no but"
Of my personal favourite phrases are the ones said when swearing or frustrated. "C'est pas possible" is the french equivalent of Victor Meldrew's "I don't believe it!" "putain de merde! Ca me fait schier" is about as strong as you can get. When translated literally - "Whore of shit! That makes me shit!" it doesn't seem too harsh. But I uppose if you've been brought up with old ladies fainting at the sound of you saying something gives you the shits, then it probably seems ruder.
My wife's favorite french phrase is "n'importe quoi" which literally means "anything". It's difficult to translate but makes sense when you hear it in context. It can translate as the sulky teenager saying "whatever". but if someone says "ne lisez pas n'importe quoi" it would mean "don't read just any old thing"
If someone has done something really stupid, you can shake your head and say "n'importe quoi". If a shift at the tile factory makes shoddy tiles I could say "ils fabriquent n'importe quoi" They'll make any old crap.