Pardon My French : Unleash Your Inner Gaul, Paperback

Pardon My French : Unleash Your Inner Gaul Paperback

3.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


Things you didn't know about France: you burnt Joan of Arc!; smuggling live chickens into rugby matches is patriotic; how many times to kiss on the cheek; where not to cross the road; French guns don't go 'bang'; what do you call a party? bon appetit is vulgar; a six-pack is a bar of chocolate; the dangers of being called Peter or Penny; your smallest finger is your 'ear' finger; the importance of Wednesdays; how to tip and when to celebrate Christmas?

Forget the French you learnt at school. Based on twenty years of hard-won knowledge, "Pardon My French" takes you through all the words you need to survive, shows how and why they work, and steers you past all the pitfalls and potential embarrassments of speaking French in France.From sugar-cube etiquette to why the Marseillaise is all about slaughtering Austrians and Prussians as bloodily as possible, Charles Timoney lays bare the Gallic mindset alongside their bizarre language.

Covering all areas of everyday life from eating and drinking to travel, work and, crucially, swearing and sounding like a teenager, this is not just the most entertaining, but also the most useful book on France and the French you'll ever read.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 256 pages, Illustrations
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Language self-study texts
  • ISBN: 9781846140525



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A very funny little book on peculiar French expressions used in everyday life, witty, well-written and full of anecdotes. I hope nobody will object at my copying down below two short exhilarating excerpts. IF YOU OBJECT, DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW FURTHER. I must add that when I made a remark to my butcher about the first example below—actually he says '<I>Et avec ça?</I>', which is just a slight variation—and told him the anecdote with the English, he understood the oddness of his leitmotif; but, now, he's lost and doesn't know what else to say. I think he takes me for a fool.<B>Et avec ceci?</B>  This is the cry of bakers, greengrocers and butchers or any stallholder in a French market. You ask for your baguette, or a dozen spicy sausages called merguez, or a kilo of potatoes and the seller, once he has handed you your order, nicely wrapped up, will enquire, '<I>Et avec ceci?</I>' The question literally means And with this...? (...) Those unfamiliar with the question have been known to misunderstand it entirely, notably one local English resident who was asked it each time he went to the butcher's. He thought he was being asked 'Et avec saucisses?', and assumed that the butcher was enquiring whether he also wanted some sausages. His reply of 'Non merci, je n'en veux pas' must have been perplexing to the poor chap.<B>Impossible</B>  There is an expression used to demonstrate how resolute and wonderful the French believe themselves to be: '<I>Impossible</I> n'est pas français!' — impossible isn't the French way. (...) However, it seems that only French people are allowed to use it of themselves. I discovered this when faced with a recalcitrant civil servant who was telling me that giving me a resident's permit on the strength of the papers I had presented was <I>impossible</I>. Thinking that the expression would provide a splendid and unarguable answer to the woman's objection, I said, 'Mais, je croyais qu'<I>impossible</I> n'était pas français' — but I thought that impossible wasn't the French way. Instead of being stunned by my erudition and agreeing that I was absolutely right and there was no need to fill in any more forms, the woman turned red in the face and shouted, 'Vous vous foutez de moi?' — Are you taking the piss? — and threatened to throw my file on the floor. (...)