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.
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.
And Toto is aften used as a synonym for zero.
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.
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.