All These Little French and American Words…

 

Q

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge!

Today one word for the letter Q

* one French word with several meanings in France and the USA, some similar, some different

 Thank you, Dan, for suggesting the word Queue when I was scratching my head.

QUEUE

Ce mot français offre une large palette de sens que tous les français connaissent.

Aux Etats Unis, le mot Queue est aussi utilisé mais dans des contexte plus limités.

Par exemple, il est très rare et franchement bizarre de dire que l’on fait la queue aux USA, même si le mot queue figure dans le dictionnaire pour décrire l’acte d’attendre dans une file de gens ou de véhicules.

Les américains “wait or stand in line” et si vous voulez savoir est la queue, vous demanderez, “Where is the line ?” Ou “Are you in line?”

Embed from Getty Images

The French word Queue means Tail and is used in many different contexts. I list a few below and I’m sure I forgot some.

Queue is used to describe the tail of an animal but also the tail of a plane or the tail of a storm. It is also used to designate the handle of a pan, the cherry stem or the last cars of a train. It is also how the group of more mediocre students that lag behind the best is depicted.

Although the word Queue can be used in the USA in order to describe the act of waiting in line, it’s quite rare and a little strange. I don’t think I ever heard anyone asking me if I was standing in queue. On the other hand, this is the proper way to say it in French.

The French font la queue when the Americans stand or wait in line.

Queue is also the cue used to strike a ball in pool or billiards.

Less expected maybe Queue de pie (magpie) is how a tailcoat or tails is called in France.

Embed from Getty Images

The word Queue is used both in France and the USA with a similar meaning in the high tech terminology.

For example, when a series of instructions are stored in a computer so that they can be processed later. Or still when different jobs remain in the printer queue.

One of the most popular French expressions is A la Queue Leu Leu. I wrote about it last year in my Series French Idioms from A to Z. You can heard from my blog post how it’s pronounced.

 

Do you know of a French or English word starting with the letter Q that has a different meaning whether it’s used in France or the USA?

Connaissez-vous un mot français ou anglais commençant par la lettre Q qui a un sens différent selon qu’il soit utilisé en France ou aux Etats Unis?

 

See you tomorrow with the letter R

All These Little French and American Words…

P

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge!

Today two words for the letter P

*One English word used in France and in the USA with a different meaning

*One French word used in France and in the USA with a different meaning

 

 

PRESSING 

The English word Pressing is used in France to say Dry Cleaning. There is a direct translation for dry cleaning (nettoyage à sec). Most often, however, the French will say they go to the pressing to pick up their clean clothes.

Pressing est le participe présent du verbe To Press aux USA. L’équivalent du pressing français se dit dry cleaning aux USA.

On peut utiliser le verbe to press à la place de to iron pour repasser, mais c’est plus rare.

Embed from Getty Images

 

PASSÉ

Le mot francais passé est utilisé aux Etats Unis pour décrire quelque chose de démodé.

Passé means past, passed, or faded (for a color ) in French. Out of fashion is passé de mode in French.

 

 

Do you know of a French or English word starting with the letter P that has a different meaning whether it’s used in France or the USA?

Connaissez-vous un mot français ou anglais commençant par la lettre P qui a un sens différent selon qu’il soit utilisé en France ou aux Etats Unis?

 

See you tomorrow with the letter Q

 

 

All These Little French and American Words…

 O

 

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge!

One interjection today for the letter O

  • this French interjection is used in the USA with a slightly different spelling and a different meaning, too

 

OOH LA LA versus OH LÀ LÀ

Au cours de mes premiers mois aux USA, chaque américain qui découvrait que je venais de France (et personne ne tardait à le découvrir rapidement, je me demande bien pourquoi…) me sortait des petites phrases amusantes du genre:

“C’est la vie.”

“Voilà!”

Ou bien encore le fameux “Ooh la la!” qui semble sonner particulièrement français aux américains.

Alors voilà la question du jour: vous, mes amis français et amies françaises, dites-vous vraiment, “ooh la la”?

Parce que moi je le dis, mais un peu différemment, pas orthographié exactement pareil et pas avec tout à fait le même sens.

Je dis “oh là là là là,” quand j’ai un problème, quand je vois un problème ou quand je fais une bêtise. Par exemple, si je suis coincée dans un embouteillage qui va me mettre en retard. Quand je rentre dans mon petit bureau et vois les piles de livres et de papiers non rangés. Ou encore quand je casse trois verres en vidant le lave-vaisselle (je suis parfois super maladroite). Enfin, vous voyez le genre.

Aux USA, “Ooh la la” est toujours orthographié avec deux O et sans accent sur les A. L’expression est toujours dite lentement, en allongeant la partie “Ooh.” Elle est utilisée pour exagérer l’effet de surprise ou d’étonnement. “Ooh la la” implique aussi quelque chose de nature sexuelle ou juste choquante ou risqué comme on dit ici.

Et il y a même des magasins de vêtements baptisés Ooh La La. Pour le je ne sais quoi, je crois.

 

 photo-52

 

In my first months in the USA, any American who found out (pretty quickly I must say. I really wonder why…) that I came from France would tell me funny things like:

“C’est la vie.”

“Voila.”

Or still the infamous, “Ooh la la.”

This is one of these French expressions that always make smile. Do I say “Ooh la la”?

Yes. But not exactly like my fellow Americans.

First “Ooh la la” in French is spelled “Oh là là.”

Then the French don’t use it with the same notion of surprise and excitement. And there is never a connotation of risqué. The French spelling and pronunciation indicate less emphasis.

So, yes, I say, “Oh là là.” In fact I say “Oh là là là là.” Mostly if I’m in trouble or see trouble. For example, when I’m stuck in a traffic jam and know I’ll be late. Or when I enter my small den and take in the piles of books and unruly paperwork. Or still when I break three glasses when I empty my dishwasher (I can be very clumsy sometimes). You get the picture.

The difference between “Ooh la la” and “Oh là là” and even “Oh là là là là” can seem subtle, I agree. But this is what makes languages tricky and also fascinating.

The closest English translations for the French “Oh là là” would be, “Oh my, oh dear, oh no, oh boy, oh man.”

So, my American friends, do you say “Ooh la la?”

I took the picture of the clothing boutique above in California. The name “Ooh La La,” gives the store un je ne sais quoi, right?

 

Do you know of a French or English word starting with the letter O that has a different meaning whether it’s used in France or the USA?

Connaissez-vous un mot français ou anglais commençant par la lettre O qui a un sens différent selon qu’il soit utilisé en France ou aux Etats Unis?

 

See you tomorrow with the letter P.

All These Little French and American Words…

N

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge!

Today one word for the letter N

  • one French word that is used in France and the USA with one similar meaning in both countries but a slightly different spelling and has an additional meaning in France

 

NÉGLIGÉE

Aux USA un négligé (de soie, comme l’a chanté Caroline Loeb, ou pas) est un négligée (toujours au féminin).

French people call a négligée a négligé, (masculine noun). But négligée is also the feminine version of the adjective négligé that describes someone who neglects her/his appearance or a place with a neglected appearance.

nuisette

Do you know of a French or English word starting with the letter N that has a different meaning whether it’s used in France or the USA?

Connaissez-vous un mot français ou anglais commençant par la lettre N qui a un sens différent selon qu’il soit utilisé en France ou aux Etats Unis?

 

See you on Monday with the letter O.

Meanwhile I wish you all a great weekend.

Thank you also for your constant support as I plow my way through the alphabet, one letter after another.

photo-286

All These Little French and American Words…

M

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge!

Today two words for the letter M

  • one French word that is slightly altered in its English version but has the same meaning in France and the USA
  • one English word that is used in France and the USA with a different meaning

 

MAITRE D’

Aux USA un maitre d’hôtel est appelé maitre d’. Au pluriel ce sera maitre d’s.

Francophones would say maître d’hôtel (literally “master of the house” or “master of the establishment”) instead. French never uses “d'” alone. In French as in English, however, the meaning is the same.

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

MAIL

The French use the word ‘mail’ to designate their electronic mail.

Mail est le courrier postal aux USA, aussi appelé snail mail en comparaison avec le courrier électronique à réception instantanée. Aux USA on reçoit des e-mails (pour electronic mails).

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

 

Do you know of a French or English word starting with the letter M that has a different meaning whether it’s used in France or the USA?

Connaissez-vous un mot français ou anglais commençant par la lettre M qui a un sens différent selon qu’il soit utilisé en France ou aux Etats Unis?

 

See you tomorrow with the letter N.

All These Little French and American Words…

L

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge!

Today one word for the letter L

* or rather a short French expression used in France and in the USA but with a different meaning in each country

 

 

A LA MODE

J’adore les desserts. Rapidement, en arrivant en Californie, je me suis rendue compte que je n’y connaissais rien en desserts américains. A part le cheesecake que je commandais toujours quand je mangeais aux Halles à Paris, le reste me semblait souvent trop gros et trop sucré. Cependant, comme je suis gourmande et curieuse et que rien ne vaut une expérience personnelle pour apprendre, je n’ai pas résisté quand j’ai lu sur un menu Pie a la Mode. A quoi pouvait bien ressembler une tarte a la mode? Ma tarte est arrivée.  Avec une généreuse boule de glace à la vanille servie au-dessus. Rien à voir avec un bœuf à la mode ou s’habiller à la mode. La surprise a disparu, mais l’expression est toujours là.

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

A scoop of vanilla ice cream served on top of a slice of pie can be called a la mode and sound French but wouldn’t be understood in France.

Although a la mode is used in French cooking it’s only for the Boeuf à la mode, the French version of the American pot roast.

A slice of pie will be more likely served plain or eventually with a side of crème fraiche or crème Chantilly (similar to whipped cream) in France.

A la mode is also used to describe a fashionable trend in clothing but also for anything trendy.

Also à la mode in French has always an accent grave (on the left side) on the A.

 

Do you know of a French or English word starting with the letter L that has a different meaning whether it’s used in France or the USA?

Connaissez-vous un mot français ou anglais commençant par la lettre L qui a un sens différent selon qu’il soit utilisé en France ou aux Etats Unis?

See you tomorrow with the letter M.

All These Little French and American Words…

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge!

I couldn’t follow on Potpourri‘s suggestion, since ‘Kiosk’ in English and ‘Kiosque’ in French, words that come from Persian and Turkish, have the same meaning in France and the USA. Thank you anyway, for the suggestion.

So today again I opted for two idiomatic expressions for the letter K

Promise, I’ll be back tomorrow with one of these little French and American words!

 

C’EST PARTI MON KIKI

This French expression signals the beginning of an action, a race, a test, an event, among many things, and carries encouragement for someone or a group.

The origin of the word ‘kiki’ varies.

Many sources hint at the meaning ‘poultry.’ It’s true that other French idioms or popular sayings involve hens, chickens, chicks, geese, and even peacocks.

In any case, the closest American equivalent is probably ‘Let’s go’ or ‘Here we go.’

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

 

KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BALL

Si vous ne quittez pas le ballon ou la balle des yeux (toujours au singulier en anglais), vous restez alerte et payez attention à ce qui se passe autour de vous. Cette expression populaire aux Etats Unis se traduirait par “Ne vous laissez pas distraire.”

 

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

 

Do you know of a French or English word starting with the letter K that has a different meaning whether it’s used in France or the USA?

Connaissez-vous un mot français ou anglais commençant par la lettre K qui a un sens différent selon qu’il soit utilisé en France ou aux Etats Unis?

 

See you tomorrow with the letter L.

All These Little French and American Words…

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge

 

When I had the idea of a series , based on these little French and American words that have a different meaning, whether they’re used in France or in the USA, I knew it would be more challenging than my 2015 French Idioms Series.

Although my French blogger friend Lectrice en Campagne, an expert in American fiction and also in language, forwarded me several valuable sources of information, we both couldn’t find a French or American word for a few letters.

As of today I still miss five words for the letters K, Q, U, X and Z.

Unless I find one or you jump to the rescue, I’ve decided to offer a French and American Idiom in place of a word for these letters.

 

So today one French and one American Idioms for the letter

 

JEUX DE MAINS, JEUX DE VILAINS

 

This French expression would take its origins in the Middle Ages when people from the lower conditions were called ‘vilains.’

Some believed that the expression is related to the fact that the vilains poked each other around for fun, triggering sometimes more violent fights.

Others say that the expression simply means that the vilains, unlike those from the higher society, used their hands and fists instead of weapons when they had to fight.

Lastly, the expression would go back to the jeu de paume, the ancestor of tennis. The vilains didn’t have money to buy a racket to play the game and used their hands. Thanks to Wikipedia, you can read here about this old French game.

In any case, Jeux de mains had a distinct connection to the vilains.

Nowadays this expression is used to warn children who start games that have the potential to switch to violence. It is fairly frequent in France to address children as vilain or vilaine when they misbehave.

In addition this expression carries an erotic meaning when used between adults where jeux de mains imply caresses. The rest remains private…

JUST IN THE NICK OF TIME

Si vous faites quelque chose just in the nick of time, vous vous êtes débrouillés pour le faire juste à temps, à la dernière limite. In  extremis, si vous voulez.

 

 

If you know of a French or English word starting with the letter J that has a different meaning whether it’s used in France or the USA, please go ahead.

Si vous connaissez un mot français ou anglais commençant par la lettre H ayant un sens différent selon qu’il soit utilisé en France ou aux Etats Unis, faites le savoir, s’il vous plait.

 

See you tomorrow with two idiomatic expressions for the letter K, unless you have a suggestion.

All These Little French and American Words…

 

I

 

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge!

One word for the letter I

*a French preposition with the same meaning in France and in the USA but with a different spelling and a different popularity

 

 

IN LIEU (of)

In lieu (of) or in place (of) or instead (of) comes from the French preposition au lieu (de). Lieu means place in France.

In lieu is not as widely common as au lieu is in France. It is almost exclusively reserved to legal and official documents, which is not the case in France.

Both prepositions, however, have the same meaning in France and the USA.

 

La préposition française au lieu (de) se dit in lieu (of) aux USA.

Autant elle est courante en France, autant elle est peu employée dans la vie quotidienne aux USA son emploi se cantonne au language juridique et aux documents officiels.

 

IMG_1408-001

In lieu (of) and au lieu (de) in two sentences:

Today, in lieu of going to my yoga class, I’ve decided to take a walk on the beach.

A little awkward, right?

Aujourd’hui, au lieu d’aller à ma classe de yoga, j’ai décidé de marcher sur la plage.

But in French, it’s totally fine.

 

Do you know of another French or English word starting with the letter I that has a different meaning whether it’s used in France or the USA?

Connaissez-vous un autre mot français ou anglais commençant par la lettre I qui a un sens différent selon qu’il soit utilisé en France ou aux Etats Unis?

 

See you tomorrow for the letter J!

 

All These Little French and American Words…

H

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge!

One word today for the letter H

*One French word used in France and in the USA, with almost the same meaning and almost the same spelling in both countries.

 

 

HORS D’OEUVRE

Hors d’oeuvre aux USA correspond à l’apéritif en France. Le mot hors d’oeuvre aux USA n’est pas invariable et ne s’écrit pas avec un trait d’union.

In contemporary France the word hors-d’oeuvre is a synonym of “Entrée,” or the first dish that starts a meal (appetizer in the USA).

The French use apéritif or apéro in casual French to refer to the time before a meal and the drinks and finger food consumed during that time.

Unlike its Americanized version, the French word Hors-d’oeuvre never takes an S at the end, regardless of the quantity of food served, and is also hyphenised.

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

 

Do you know of another French or English word starting with the letter H that has a different meaning whether it’s used in France or in the USA?

Connaissez-vous un autre mot français ou anglais commençant par la lettre H qui a un sens différent selon qu’il soit utilisé en France ou aux Etats Unis?

 

See you on Monday for the letter I.

Enjoy your weekend!

 

%d bloggers like this: