Is it us or is it them?

After agonizing over which page a day calendar to purchase for 2009, I opted for a French phrases calendar. I used to be somewhat conversational at French some 25 yrs ago and had the rather ill-advised hope that a page a day calendar would somehow prepare me to retire in Provence. Think again, Babs.

What I immediately noticed was that while the calendar was chock full of your typical phrases like “what is your name?” and “my name is ____” it also contained a few gems that caused me to wonder why they were included. Were the publishers commenting on things the French typically say themselves or the things that English-speaking tourists might say when in France? Here are a few I found thought-provoking:

“That t-shirt is ugly” (because you will have to comb the souvenir shops for the perfect tshirt before heading home.)

“I’d rather date my dog” (so when the natives point and smile, you’ll know that they are actually making fun of you instead of being wowed by your sensible shoes and space efficient fanny pack.)

“No onions on my food please” (because we are notorious for our bad American breath.)

“The shop owner is making a face at me” (so you can loudly announce to your traveling companions when you perceive you are being treated like a loud obnoxious American.)

“This food sucks” (so you can fit in with the native food critics as well as learn the very useful French equivalent of “sucks” and use it to describe a wide variety of distasteful things.)

Who knew a French phrase calendar could be so subversive?