In this blogposting…
* Life in France
* The Daily Wisecrack
* Andy Goldsworthy
All human life is here….


For decades - centuries, even - the English language has thought it exotic, and even a little risqué, to import words directly from French and use them as if they were home-grown Anglo-Saxon expressions.  We pepper our conversations with them, and, whilst so doing, attempt to say them in the most authentically French way we can manage.  Think of rondayvoo, longerry, aw duhvr, poh-poori, protayjay….oo la la.

This process of wholesale word-borrowing is two-way, though.  Although most French people would probably only admit it reluctantly, the language of love and diplomacy - uneasy bedfellows at the best of times - has been importing words from English as if its life depended on it.  The French for ‘weekend’ is weekend, their word for ‘baby’ is bébé, ‘beef steak’ is bifteck.

But, with stereotypical French disdain, the Devil’s Tongue has adopted a strange and unsettling habit in the process of word-acquisition.  It seems to have decided that the present participle of English words - the versions that end in -ing - are the most appropriate and sonorous, no matter how ungrammatical they are and no matter how linguistically disrespectful this is.

You don’t need to spend much time in France to know that a camp-site is le camping, that a car-park is le parking or that shampoo is le shampooing.

But the longer you stay, the more frustratingly daft these words get.  Just for a lark, here are a few more I have seen and/or heard…

Le training - a tracksuit
Le shooting - a photo-shoot
Le dancing - a dance hall (or, ironically, a palais de danse in English)
Le bowling - a bowling-alley
Le pressing - a dry-cleaners
Le string - a G-string (I use that one a lot)
Le sleeping - a sleeping-car (on a train)
Le jogging - a tracksuit (aka le training)
Le smoking - a dinner jacket
Le footing - jogging
Le walking-closet is a walk-in wardrobe
Le relooking - a makeover

My favourites though are le retouching, which French has adopted to mean clothing alterations, and le lifting.

I bet you can’t even guess what le lifting means without looking it up!


A number of people have got in touch to suggest that it may not be such a good idea to hold our next AGM at Gibside or even to hold it on December 4.

So I give in.  Let’s hold it on Thursday 6 December in Newcastle.

Whaddya think?


Once again, Thanks to all those unscrupulous and mischievous people who have sent me their contributions to our growing library of wisecracks and put-downs.  Modesty forbids me from mentioning names.

I take no responsibility for any tastelessness contained herein.

There are several people in this world that I find obnoxious and you are all of them.

He is so old that his blood type has been discontinued.

He is out of his depth in a carpark puddle.

He’s got that faraway look - the farther he gets, the better he looks.

He’s so dense that light bends around him.

He was the first in his family to be born without a tail.



I have sprinkled this posting with photos of some of Andy Goldsworthy’s sculptures.  All of them were made from entirely natural ‘ingredients’ - rocks and stones, ice, leaves, twigs, water.

I think they’re lovely and I hope you do, too.

Post comments on this blog or email me:  truckshunters@googlemail.com


Kev said...

George Bush was well known for his verbal 'eccentricity'. He once said •(discussing decline of French economy with British Prime Minister Tony Blair) The problem with the French is that they don't have a word for entrepreneur.

Hildie said...

That's brill, Kev!

Bentonbag said...

I once worked for a boss who used the phrase "Our reason d'etre for being"

Vivienne said...

Hahaha! xxx

Ian Robinson said...

Er...sorry, folks! Mr Bush was probably being wiser than he thought. 'Entrepreneur' means 'businessman' (or sometimes 'contractor') in French. French really DOESN'T have a word that means what WE mean by 'entrepreneur'! (Or am I just showing off?)

Hildie said...

I do believe you but the mind boggles :-)
It's true to say we learn something every day!

Have you heard they're banning cars, that are over 15 years old,from Paris?
Ahhh, it's goodbye to the
deux c v!
And there's no more free coffee at
Pret A Manger. I really liked having my little loyalty card stamped .... but it's goodbye to that too.