French is Dangerous

You’ve heard me talk about this before (Merde 101).  But the world has gotten more dangerous since I wrote that piece.  We need to be on the lookout.  We need to be vigilant.  We need to speak English.  No, this is not an anti-immigrant piece.  This is a potential-worldwide-calamity-caused-by-incomprehensible-grammar piece.

Yes, it’s true.  I’m saying that all roads to terrorism are sign-posted in FRENCH.  Believe me.  I lived there.  I know.  Well, I don’t know the language, but I know those signposts.  And what they say.  More or less.

Why would I make such an accusation?  Because French is stupid.

Well, actually, it’s really French possessives.  French possessives are stupid, illogical, dangerous.

You see, in French, objects get the gender of the object/noun, not the owner.  And that, is of course, the problem.

Imagine that there is a man and a woman in a train station.  Between them is a suitcase.

Google Image (or KGB?)

In it is a nuclear bomb.  Desperate to foil the bad guys, you cannot just shout out “It’s HIS!” pointing to the man who can be arrested and the bomb diffused.

Google Images are everywhere

Why not?

Because the word for suitcase in French is “valise” which is feminine.  Therefore, you can only say “It’s HERS” (“Est la valise!”) — regardless of who owns the suitcase/nuclear bomb.  The bomb would go off and everyone would die.

The terrorists would succeed because French is stupid.

Not speaking French is the way to protect the world.

*****

One of my blogging buddies, Paprika of Good Humored felt stupid recently.  She wrote about it here:  At Least We Can See France From Our Toilet.  And it’s not her fault.  You see, Paprika and her husband Oregano found themselves in French-speaking Switzerland, just down the road from where I used to live.  They came back feeling stupid.  They shouldn’t have.  Instead, they should have come back relieved that they had survived a nuclear attack.

[Note to folks who actually know French:  Before you get on my case, I do know that there are other was to say “It’s HIS.” But they are not short, sweet and to the point.  They are long and involved and the bomb would explode by the time anyone could get the sentence out.  The Terrorists would still win.]

67 Comments

Filed under Criminal Activity, Geneva Stories, Gizmos, Global Warming, Health and Medicine, History, Humor, Hypocrisy, Neighbors, Politics, Science, Stupidity

67 responses to “French is Dangerous

  1. julie

    But it is such a pretty language! You could tell someone off and sound so pleasent doing so. Not like German or Greek. You can say all kinds of wonderful things in those languages and scare folks who don’t speak the language…

    My daughter took years of French through high school and into college. I was impressed by her ability. Unfortunately one gets rusty without practice, and she didn’t teach me while she learned. Kids.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I LIVED there for 5 years and I was always rusty! I never got terribly good at it, but since my errors usually got good laughs — like when I tried to ask for a book of metro tickets (a “carnay”) and practiced saying “canard” — a duck. My husband John was kind and stopped me. I would have let him ask for the duck.

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  2. I… really don’t know how to argue with this. I formulated some thoughts, even typed a few of them up, but then I got up and suddenly was drinking scotch. That seems like a better answer to this linguistic issue, anyway. One day, we will sort out this French stuff, but I fear that I will not contribute overly much to the resolution, deep in my cups of scotch as I will be. Merde!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So So true. Love your blog.

    Like

  4. Pingback: The Green Study “Worst Job I Ever Had” Contest: 2nd Place | The Green Study

  5. Even worse, I think if the French could light their cigarettes from the force of the blast, they would do so, then stand around smoking in the debris, discussing how terrorists were passe.
    Hmph.

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  6. It was really funny. I have no idea about french. As an Indian we have to deal with so many languages, that I can’t even imagine of learning another language; at least not, after reading this post of yours and the complexity of the french language. 🙂
    I even sometimes get confused with our own national language where, we have to use her for bus, which is feminine and his for truck which is Masculine. 🙂 Is n’t it funny?

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    • Possibly my favorite thing about English (well, aside from the fact that I am fluent in it) is that there are no genders. They made me crazy — and why should Truck be masculine and bus be feminine (although I’d give it to them on the truck). But suitcase? Always feminine? Men use suitcases too. And they are much more likely to carry a bomb in one! 🙂

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  7. A few years ago my hubby & I went on a trip to Cuba. In order to use our air miles for the flight (we had won the trip except for air fare), we had to connect through Montreal. This meant we travelled all the way with Quebecois who of course yammered all the way down & back in French. Because we didn’t speak French, they totally ignored us. When talking to servers in Cuba, we found out the worst tourists were French, followed closely by French Canadians. When I was taking French in school, conjugating verbs was the thing I hated most!

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    • Wait! You went to Cuba? Clearly, you are unAmerican or are a cigar smoker. Neither is very attractive in my book…

      But being ignored by French-speakers is not necessarily a bad thing. The problem arises merely when there is a bomb involved. But folks of all nations can be jerks, and I will admit to cringing a time or two when there was a loud-mouth-American living up to the stereotype! Each nation has its idiots. Sadly, they are let out from time to time!

      Conjugating verbs. Oh, dear. I be hating that. Present tense was OK. And I swear, all the five years I lived in Switzerland/France, I virtually LIVED in the present!

      I loved your story. Cuba must be a fascinating place to visit. Cigars notwithstanding!

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      • Since I’m Canadian, I am definitely unAmerican. It was a fascinating experience & since I still smoked then, it was nice to be in a country where you could smoke anywhere you wanted. Now I wouldn’t care anymore.

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  8. Fun post. Reminds me of David Sedaris and Me Talk Pretty One Day.

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    • Thanks Fork. High praise indeed! I loved that book — mostly because it was hilarious but also since I read it shortly after returning from 5 years of being unable to communicate … Finally I felt that I was not alone!

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  9. I thought for sure it was going to turn out that French was dangerous because an unsuspecting girl will have her head turned by a smooth-talking guy speaking it. Thanks for the international terrorist warning.

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    • Nah, so many of those smooth-talking guys spit while speaking it. (I often think of the Dave Barry line — to get your “r’s” right, pretend you are gargling with eels).

      And sure thing about the terrorist warning — we ‘Mericans need to stick together.

      Like

  10. Yes, yes, if someone were telling me about a bomb in the vicinity I would certainly wait until the grammar in the sentence were straightened out before taking any action. No excuse for gender mixup. An don’t try to tell me “they” can be singular, either.

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    • You’re right, Mudge, Of course you would wait. If the suitcase belonged to a woman you’d automatically know that she wouldn’t have room for a nuke inside that valise! But think how confusing it would be if you were to point to a man and say “It’s HERS!” That split second might mean the difference between saving the world and annihilation. Seconds count in terrorism.

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  11. You are welcome. And do sign my 21 year old son up for the task. He speaks a little French and will be glad to mis-translate for you.

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  12. GOF

    I think we should invade France to sort this out. We’ve fixed up Iraq and Afghanistan so it must be time for a new project. Thank you for bringing this dangerous situation to my attention mon ami.

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  13. If everyone spoke RedNeck…the nuclear bomb wouldn’t have even been invented. Problem solvesd (fun post)

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    • So that’s why there is no longer an emphasis on critical thinking! Barb, you have answered so many of my most baffling life questions with this comment. Thanks!

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  14. Ha, that is great information for when I finally get to Paris, see the suitcase bomb, and need to thwart the terrorist plot. I’m sure that happens nearly every day.

    In spite of taking one year of French with Professor Guy (always pronounced ‘ghee’, btw) Combe, I don’t think my skilled remembrance of the tune “Sur le pont d’Avignon,” will help in times of terrorism on French soil.

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    • I am sure you would save the world, or at least the day, MJ.

      And that song might help you if you become pope and need to hang out in the Vatican in exile in Avignon (perhaps due to a terrorist plot in Italian which someone else will have to address). I warn you, though. I visited the Palace at Avignon and the place has no furniture. Be sure to bring a folding chair.

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      • I had to look up the Palace on my information bible, Wikipedia. I had forgotten all that history. What magnificent architecture. But no furniture?? Probably couldn’t afford it after all that construction over hundreds of years.

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  15. Reblogged this on What I Desired To Say… and commented:
    As a person that has had some recent dealings with people who speak French as their main means of communication, I wholeheartedly concur!

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  16. I’m going to have to take your word on this one. My Mom was raised in Paris, France and speaks French, but I can only master a killer French accent. Can’t speak French to save my sorry baguette (and I don’t know if that is a feminine or masculine piece of deliciousness). 😉

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    • I am a very trustworthy source. Especially when it comes to language failure! Paris is a wonderful place, language notwithstanding. I am sure it was an amazing place to grow up!

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  17. English is pretty weird too with its homophones and silent letters like why can’t it just be homofone?

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    • English is pretty weird, Speaker7. But I don’t think there will be any international terror attacks based on spelling, like there can be with French possessives. I could be wrong, however. So we must be vigilant.

      Will homophones even be allowed if the GOP takes over? 😉

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  18. Here, here! I slogged through a three-week course at the University of Geneva this summer – possessives and articles, plus the added fun of past and future tense verb conjugations, all in an airless attic classroom five days a week. Gah! Torture. And totally contrary to the way English trains us to think.

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    • You are a brave woman, Cortney. Who knows what might have happened in that airless room?

      My mind is fairly logical, and the approach to the language, well I just couldn’t handle it. When I had an exam on the possessives, a friend of mine who is a teacher was trying to help me. I couldn’t do it and couldn’t do it. Just couldn’t get my head around the stupidity. Finally Jane said, “Elyse, they do it wrong.” That was all I needed — I accepted the stupidity and passed the test. (Jane is a great teacher!)

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  19. Thanks for making me feel better, Elyse 🙂 So glad we avoided an international incident and nuclear attack.

    I commend you for making grammar an issue of national security.
    .

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    • We must be ever vigilant about language, especially when someone is speaking another tongue. How do we know what they’re saying, after all?

      I’m glad you and Oregano came back safely, caused no international incidents that cannot be chuckled off, and did not die horribly due to a grammar incident.

      Like

  20. Well, I took four years of French in high school and…I can’t remember how to say anything in French at all. Oui? well, maybe Ooh la la and fermez la bouche…which has taken pretty far in life so far.

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    • Darla, I think you got down the only useful things in the language. Especially fermez la bouche. That works for everything!

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      • Better yet, “ferme ta gueule”. Blunter. Or go totally Quebecois and say “ta yeule” pronounced “tie you’ll”. Shut it, in other words. So fun.

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        • Thanks Sara. I hadn’t heard of those. It’s awfully important to have several ways of being rude to folks in their mother tongue. Especially if there is no chance you’ll understand what they say in response.

          Welcome to the blog, Sara

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          • Zut alors! Merci, ma nouvelle amie! c’est un grand plaisir etre ici. Or something like that.

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            • I’m thinking that you are saying that you are “plastered”. I’m not sure I approve of that until at least dinner time. In France. So drink up.

              Of course I am just kidding. My French is only pretty bad but I could understand what you said. Barely!

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              • French is easier to speak and understand while slightly inebriated. Explains all the wine.

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                • I can speak and comprehend enough to get by. Reading and writing, not so much. I nearly got thrown in jail for writing out the number on my property tax incorrectly on a check … They have no sense of humor about stuff like that. Sigh. Thanks for following!

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    • Hey, I remember fermez la bouche, aussi! Hows about tete toi? (any and all French spelling and usage errors are totally the fault of my aging brain, and in no way reflect the fine tutelage of my high school teacher, Soeur Rosemarie.)

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      • Tete toi? I was baffled and actually looked that one up on Google translate — “you head” — There is apparently a deeper meaning here.

        But like you, my french errors are all mine. Except for the ones caused by the fact that French is stupid.

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  21. John Erickson

    English is so wonderfully compact. I can’t remember the number of times I’ve watched one of the foreign news shows, only to watch the interviewee jabber for five minutes while the voice-over says “Yes, that is our plan”. I’ve had fits trying to translate stuff through online translators into, say, Romanian or Lithuanian to convey my condolences on the loss of that country’s soldiers.
    By the by, French rudeness is alive and well. I have made friends among high-ranking Romanian officers expressing my condolences. The Aussie Defence Minister actually passed a condolence note of mine to the families of the killed soldier. Multiple letters to the French have produced exactly zip, zilch, nada, and nothing, in that specific order.
    Maybe they’ve seen photos of me in my WW2 German uniform? (Some people have NO sense of humour. 😀 )

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    • Thanks for your comment, John.

      I think rudeness in general is on the rise. Folks don’t seem to be as nice as they used to be. Although, a Frenchman seeing you in your German Uniform, well, I might excuse them for that. If not for the fact that they keep forgetting the U.S. contribution to their liberation. Oh well.

      But French is anything but concise. A movie starring Robert Redford came out while we lived there, and as I was struggling to learn. In English, the title is concise, to the point, descriptive, perfect. “The Horse Whisperer.” In French? “L’homme qui murmur dans les orielles de les cheveaux.” The man who murmurs in the ears of horses. Barely fit on the billboard.

      Like

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