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My Dinner Without Andre

I was out for dinner the other night with two of my favourite people - my son and my wife.  We were at my daughter and her husband's restaurant and unfortunately she was working but at least we were one of her tables so we got to chat now and then.

I should explain my kids are from my first marriage but they get along swell with my wife.  Anyway, so my son, my wife and I are having a relaxing time, shooting the breeze - it was kind of like that movie My Dinner With Andre, except without Andre - and all of a sudden the switch clicked.

Has that ever happened to you?  For no apparent reason the conversation takes an abrupt 90 degree turn and those engaged are reduced to giggling nincompoops.  Well, it happened to us.  In my family it happens a lot, with or without the influence of alcohol - and the other night none of us were drinking.  And what started as a discussion about movies we'd seen ended on how we'd like to deal with some people we disliked.  Go figure.

From Avatar, Julie and Julia and Star Trek we somehow got on to the difference between going to the movies in French and English.  Well, not literally - or maybe so.  You see my wife is French.  And there are some differences in the language that are interesting.  So while we didn't literally go to the movies we did talk about the literal differences between saying "I went to the movies" in French and English.  Turns out there's no difference between English and French when one says "I went to the movies."  The literal translation is virtually the same.

But there is a difference when the French watch television.  They say "J'ecoute la television, which means literally "I listen to the television".  So, often, a French person speaking English will tell you "...last night I listened to House (or Law and Order or...you get the idea).  Well this has always struck me as funny and my comeback would often be something along the lines of, "Is your TV broken?"  Or, "You're not getting your money's worth".  Or, "Doesn't your TV have pictures?  Mine does."  Or, "Why don't you turn the picture on?"  Or, "You'd save yourself some money if you just bought a radio!"

A typical French-Canadian family "listens" to television.

From there my wife told us when she was learning English she was quite taken by the introductory phrase of "How do you do?"  She said she was anxious to try it out but reluctant because she was worried people would actually tell her how they were.  So instead of taking that risk she went with "Pleased to meet you" the French equivalent of "enchanter" (on-shawn-tay).

Well this got us going on how silly English was.  Imagine having to ask someone how they were doing, particularly of someone you didn't like and really could care less.

Which brought us to the thought of what if you could really tell someone what you thought of them while being introduced.  You know like when some snotty type responds to your "It's a pleasure to meet you" with "Oh, the pleasure's all mine."  Next time you run into one of those types why don't you try saying: "Oh, make no mistake about it, you've got that right!"

The pleasure was all hers.

Comments

Don said…
In college I rented a house with a Cuban, Panamanian and Ecuadorian Indian. They spoke "English", and I spoke "Spanish". What a farce. Even the Panamanian would have to translate the Ecuadorian to the Cuban. I was left to fend for myself.
btw-my word verify is "troutly". Sounds like a gentleman's gentleman's name-Mr. Troutly, sir.
nonamedufus said…
Mr. Troutly: Language can be a funny thing. Try explaining to people, for example, why we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway or why we get on an airplane instead of in an airplane. Huh!
Moooooog35 said…
That chick needs boobs.

Think they would crash a plastic surgeon convention or something. At least get a freebie out of it.
mama-face said…
Haha. I love that uncontrollable laughter that hits at times. Especially if I'm with someone.

I listen to my TV all the time. Just thought you'd want to know.
Me-Me King said…
In 1967 our family made the trek from Arkansas to Expo '67 in Montreal. Imagine our surprise when we turned on the TV and watched The Beverly Hillbillies which was dubbed in French. It was hilarious!!!!


word veri: twimbu - how does that translate?
MA Fat Woman said…
I still have hat problem down here in the South when I speak with my Yankee tongue...all carbonated beverages are not Cokes.

My verify word was sphydrog
nonamedufus said…
Moooooog: She and her husband are a couple of boobs. Close enough.
nonamedufus said…
mama-face: Wow, you must have some French blood in you. Or else you're blind. Oh, sorry about that.
nonamedufus said…
Me-Me: Ah, oui, oui, Les Billies des collines des Beverly. Just kidding. Did you watch or listen? Expo 67? Maybe I saw you there.
nonamedufus said…
MAFW: It's a great game sometimes over a drink or two to get into why we say some of the things we do. Imagine an immigrant trying to learn English. Victor Borge the pianist/comedian used to do wonderful things with/to the English language.
Me-Me King said…
Yeah, well I thought you looked familiar. Funny thing about being in Montreal with our southern accents, all the vendors loved it when we said, "Merci beau coup, y'all".
nonamedufus said…
Me-Me: ha, ha, bilingual, too. By the way, I was the one with the corduroy jacket. Did I leave an impression?
I just answer the question literally.

"How do you do?"

"How do I do what? Be specific, please."

GREAT conversation starter.
nonamedufus said…
Chris: Or conversation ender! ha,ha
If memory serves, the French greeting is comment allez vous, or how go you, or more fairly rendered in English, how do you go?
How do I go? The question would seem to be both rude and unnecessary, since as a man I can pretty much be assumed to go the way the great majority of males do: in the standing or sitting position, depending on the demands of the moment. Then there's the more famliar "Ca va?" which, again more or less means "How's it going?" Here once more, there seems little reason for the question, unless a urologist asks it of a patient with bladder problems.
Kelly said…
Damn, that is one big-ass typical French-Canadian family. Pere & Mere must go at it like a couple of lapin. Doncha like my Franglish?
nonamedufus said…
B&B: ha,ha. You're absolutely right. Even in English "How's it goin'" is a bit of an odd greeting and is more for when you see someone you know and not someone you're meeting for the first time..
nonamedufus said…
Kelly: I thought that pic was hilarious. And your Franglish is first rate. I wonder if there are what we used to call "rabbit ears" on the TV.
Quirkyloon said…
So how do you "dun, dun" in French?

hee hee
nonamedufus said…
Quirks: "nud, nud"
Canadian Blend said…
I met a couple in their 30's. He was Czechoslovakian and she was Russian. Neither spoke the other's native tongue, so they used English at home.
nonamedufus said…
Cdn Blend: Interesting compromise.

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