Friday, 8 February 2013

30DW2-2 - Day 8: French


In Canada, we live in a bilingual country. Our official languages are English and French. If you work for the federal government and want to get ahead, you need to be bilingual. And you're tested every 5 years to ensure you can still read, write and speak your learned language.

As an Anglophone, who only had grade-school French, I had to go through this testing. It wasn't easy. But I managed. At taxpayer's expense. You see if you didn't pass the test you had to go to French school to brush up. It usually took five or six months away from work. It was a pretty good deal. And then you'd go back to the office and speak the language most prevalent at work: English.

Anyway, I'm not here to rate the federal government's language policy. Or to comment one way or the other on the fact that people across the country I never even knew paid through their taxes to send me to language school...several times.

No, I'm here to share with you an odd little fact about my marriage. You see Mrs D is a Francophone. And I'm an Anglophone who has pretty much shed his French abilities much like a snake sheds its skin.

I don't know what she ever saw in me. Before we hooked up we were kind of like that novel "Two Solitudes". We have a wonderful life, though. We love each other dearly and have been together now for about 13 years.

Lately, however, I've come to question ma cherie amour's sincerity.  You see for much of the time we've been together Mrs D has had a lovely little term of endearment she's used to reflect her love for me. She uses it often and it just kind of makes me feel all warm inside.

I thought it was one of those cute little French idioms. Now I'm not so sure.

Often she'd call me "Toto". Or after I'd expressed an opinion of some sort she'd say "Voyons (c'mon) Toto!" and I'd smile at her and blow her a kiss.

But here's what I've learned this week in doing a little research for this post.

The drawing above if called "tête à Toto" and represents a French children's game where 0+0=0 and is drawn while reciting "zero plus zero equals the head of Toto". In other words Toto's head equals zero.

Hmmm.

And it would seem Toto is a common children's character in French, much like we'd use "little Johnny" in jokes in English. And it would also seem there are many, many Toto jokes. All of which poke fun at Toto.

Hmmm.

And Toto is aften used as a synonym for zero.

Hmmm.

But that's not all.

From time to time she calls me "naiseux". Has a nice lilt to it, don't you think? Sure, I thought so too until I looked it up: foolish, annoying, irritating.

Huh???

Moi?

Hmmm.

You know there are a few other words she uses repeatedly that I thought were terms of endearment but now I'm afraid to share them with you or to ask her what they mean.

I don't want to appear naiseux...and Toto too, you know.

Nicky will appreciate this post, I'm sure. Get yourself on over to We Work For Cheese  (Nous traviallons pour fromage) and click on the naiseux link thingy to see how the rest of the Totos fared today.

30 comments:

Shawn Ohara said...

Was she saying toto or têtu? I never even considered what my blog would be called in French. Imbecile têtu. It had a better ring to it in English.

Cadeaux said...

Oh just call her "Une fasche!" back...and see if that still works (that is old timey).


My mother was from Belgium - I spoke French before I spoke English - but my ridiculous American father wanted nothing of that the French-speak stopped....unfortunately.


Did you use a certain type of language learning course - was it very good?

nonamedufus said...

Oh, she was saying Toto. I'm certainly not têtu. No I'm not. I am not. I'm not, really. Am not.

nonamedufus said...

Oh, heavens, no. I could never call her a cow. She's the furthest thing from it. Didn't you read Day 4's post?

Cheryl P. said...

Toto isn't so bad...I am sure she means it lovingly. I would be more concerned if she starts using the French word for dumbass...then you would have a reason to worry.

nonamedufus said...

You may have a point. But for all I know she may well already be calling me that. You don't know what "abruti" means, do you?

Laughing Mom said...

I love this! You just both speak the language of love - that is all.
As an aside - mu hubby comes from a small rural town and has quite a Southern accent. When we were dating, I just smiled and nodded my head whenever I couldn't understand him!

nonamedufus said...

My mother was half deaf but hated to wear her hearing aid. She used to nod and smile and say "That's nice." One day, as adults, we were visiting and my brother told me, "You better speak up. It's a long way to the drawer in the bedside table."

P.J. said...

Ha! Fantastic. This is definitely one of the finer posts of this challenge. Well done. J'adore!

Quirky Loon said...

Hilarious! However I have been guilty of calling my boys wicked little monkeys with the utmost tone of love of course. heh heh

nonamedufus said...

Well thanks, P.J. I had some fun pulling this post together. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

nonamedufus said...

Ha, I call my grandkids little buggers. They love it. Their mother (my daughter) not so much.

Tami Von Zalez said...

Mr. VZ speaks fluent Spanish, me - more like Spanglish. There would be an advantage to being bisexual ... I mean bilingual! *grins*

nonamedufus said...

Um, ah, yes there probably would be.

MikeWJ said...

This is not only funny, it's extremely well-written, NoName. I love this little glimpse into your life with a Francophone who basically thinks of you as her little idiot. I say accept it as a symbol of her love for you, and keep on keeping on. Because it's better to be somebody's idiot than nobody's idiot, I say.

nonamedufus said...

Coming from you my friend, that's high praise indeed. Um, the well written part, not the somebody's idiot part.

Linda Medrano said...

Those are very sweet actually. I call Alex a wide variety of anglo saxon 4 letter words, sometimes including mother in front of them. Count your lucky stars.

Ziva said...

Aww, she loves you, she really does! And I love this post. Brilliant work, my friend.

Indigo Roth said...

Hey Dufus! Pet names are as pet names do. My mum used to say that. True story. Indigo

nonamedufus said...

Luckily, we don't go there.

nonamedufus said...

She does, yes, she does. Although I'm not entirely sure why. Must be my good grooming. Thanks for the kind words.

nonamedufus said...

What did your Mom call you, Forrest?

Nicky said...

Mais, c'est trop adorable! Mme D est une femme extraordinaire et sage, j'en suis sûr!

nonamedufus said...

Why is it you women always stick together?

Katherine Murray said...

"who has pretty much shed his French abilities much like a snake sheds its skin." I read that a few times because I liked it so much!!

nonamedufus said...

Ssssssssounds good but the fact is it's quite sssssssssad.

KZ said...

~* Often she'd call me "Toto". Or after I'd expressed an opinion of some sort she'd say "Voyons (c'mon) Toto!" and I'd smile at her and blow her a kiss. *~


That right there just charmed my pants off. That was an idiom, not a literal statement. I found this whole post completely endearing. The romantic in me suspects that your wife means well with her silly pet names. Maybe something gets lost in the translation though, huh?

nonamedufus said...

Yes, I joke about - because that's the way I am - but Mrs D means very well. She's a very loving partner and person. (You can put your pants back on now.)

Boom Boom Larew said...

I know you married her for more than just brushing up on your French. But was Maryse really that lousy with English that she had to go to such lengths? Toto... hahahaha!

nonamedufus said...

Oh, there's nothing wrong with her English. If she had used it I'd have known just what she was saying.

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