Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Terms of Endearment


Gather ‘round boys and girls. Today I’m going to give you a French lesson. The topic – Terms of Endearment.

In French, as in any language, terms of endearment are part and parcel of the idiom. The thing is, in French they tend to be a touch strange, if not downright bizarre, at least when you actually think about them.

English terms of endearment tend to lean towards confections and anything sweet: Sweetheart, sugar, sweetiepie, honey, cupcake, muffin… we all know them, these saccharine overdose endearments. The English are obviously obsessed with food. Sweet food.

French endearments are somewhat more... um, varied. Off the top of my head:

You have your vegetable endearments. For instance when you call someone “mon chou” which translates as cabbage (Je t’aime mon chou…. I love you my cabbage)

Of course if you prefer, you can use are the animal endearments – “ma chouette” (my owl), “mon pitou” (my…dog – though in its defence it can also mean a stuffed toy).

Then, moving on you have your basic insectile endearments like “ma puce” – my flea. This one is often used for those little entities they call children. Come to think of it, they are a bit flea like, climbing all over you and annoying big people.

However, when endearments veer to the scatological things become truly very strange. By far the most over the top is that very widely used scatological endearment extraordinaire: “ma crotte” . Or in the Shakespearian tongue: My…. turd.

Class over mes crottes! Recess... Go out and play and practice your French!

14 comments:

Ian Lidster said...

I've always found mon chou kind of cute, and I've used it. I do think "my turd" really stretches the endearment concept a bit.
Ian

ticknart said...

I'm going to start calling people ma crotte and mean it in the English way!

Happily Anonymous said...

I think my divorce would've went much quicker had i learned French it seems.

Jazz said...

Ian - And yet... Go figure, eh?

Tick - Just hope your boss doesn't speak French

HA - Quicker, but perhaps more painful...

Voyager said...

Merci pour les mots, mon petite chou. Tres drole.
V.

geewits said...

Good lesson. My husband calls me "mittens" and "squirt" among many other terms of endearment. Now you have me thinking, hmm....

Hageltoast said...

Mark calls me his Petite Chou (i am neither small nor cabbage like) and all sorts of silly things for example, snuggle pants and captain chuckles, naughty/snuggle/silly anything pretty much goes. Not that i'm any better with the range of ridiculous things i call him. Buneroopoo is fave at the moment, it's what he used to call the bunnies. Oh and he and Anna both call me guzzle monkey.

Dan said...

The only French I know is another word for scatological endearment that you didn't mention. Oh ... and the titles of French films like "Les enfants du paradis" and "La regle du jeu".

I'm pathetic.

Too_Lively said...

Jazz is my favorite teacher. I am so enjoying these cultural posts.

Jazz said...

Voyager - De rien ma puce

Geewits - Mittens????

Toast - OK, guzzlemonkey? Where on earth did that come from?

Dan - Why pathetic? It's not like you need to know French...

TL - Oy... so now I have to keep them up?

mist1 said...

My turd is affectionate? Now I feel better about calling my snot nosed cousin a little sh*t.

Jocelyn said...

The "ma puce" is going to come in infinitely handy.

My son, especially, will benefit from it, as he is a flea on me, all day.

Jill said...

That's cool thing about French, you can call someone a turd and it still sounds so refined and exotic. At least to hillbilly ears like mine.

Jazz said...

Mist - That's probaby how it started...

Jocelyn - Kudos to you if you can find some use to this drviel

Jill - It wasn't the language of diplomacy for nothing.