Some funny French expressions

Because I don’t currently have much of an opportunity to use my French, I instead subject my boyfriend and various friends to the English versions of my French expressions. They sounds quite ridiculous, but that doesn’t bother me.

Here’s the first expression:

  • “I have the ants.”

When the French have a body party that’s asleep, they say “J’ai les fourmis,” or “I have the ants” in English. It sounds hilarious, but I can see why they’d say this. A body part that’s fallen asleep kind of also feels like it’s been invaded by ants. It’s like there’s a bunch of ants scurrying around inside of your body.

Here’s the next expression I anglicize:

  • “I am a poor pilgrim.”

When a French person is feeling like a loser, either after doing something stupid or befalling a negative circumstance, he or she says “Je suis un pauvre pélérin,” or “I am a poor pilgrim” in English. One time a Frenchman called me a poor pilgrim immediately after I had gotten caught in the pouring rain, broken my umbrella, and dropped my book into a muddy puddle.

I suppose this expression also makes sense. Pilgrims likely faced many obstacles on their way to the holy land, some of which probably made them feel pretty uncomfortable, frustrated, or hopeless. They were poor pilgrims!

The next expression is:

  • “He gave me a rabbit.”

When a man stands a girl up, the girl says “Il m’a posé un lapin,” or “He gave me a rabbit.” This one really doesn’t make sense to us English speakers, and I would reckon most French speakers don’t know the origin of the expression. I found several explanations, but this one made the most sense to me. It says that “rabbit” used to signify “the refusal to pay.” It was, for example, used to explain the act of traveling (say, by train) without paying. The expression was “voyager en lapin,” or “travel like a rabbit.”

I’m not sure why a rabbit reference was used for someone who didn’t pay, and not a reference to a bird, turtle or squirrel. Maybe because rabbits are especially sneaky.  But anyway, I guess the French then started saying “Il l’a posé un lapin,” or “He gave her a rabbit,” when a man didn’t end up paying a prostitute. Basically the man “gave her a refusal of payment.” The expression evolved over time, and now means someone didn’t respect a planned rendezvous.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com/photos/cplapied/1278788003

Advertisements
Explore posts in the same categories: Animals, France, French, Fun, Funny, Random

Tags: , , , , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: