Category Archives: French Word or Phrase
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Je vous ecoute
The first time I heard this expression I was sitting at a café and the waitress came up to my table and said “Je vous ecoute”. That’s it. Just those three words and just stood there waiting for me to say something. No,“Vous desirez quelques choses?” or “Vous avez choisi?” Nope. Now, of course, being a native English speaker I quickly made a literal translation to just, “Yaah, I’m listening to you” (I put the yaah in there just cuz that’s how it seemed) and took it as something pretty abrasive to say to a customer. To add to it the waitress didn’t really seem all that thrilled to be there that day so I ended up chalking it up to her not having a terrific day. Okay, no problem. I’ve had those days myself.
I don’t think that in my wildest dreams I would walk into a restaurant in The States and the waitress/waiter would walk up to my table and only say “I’m listening to you”. I’m not sure that would go over too well.
Well, since then I’ve been to several restaurants and café’s where waiters/waitresses have said this so I guess it just must be the phrase to say and it’s not rude after all. Sometimes for us foreigners, it’s just hard to tell. I have slowly become accustomed to hearing it and now it doesn’t seem rude to me.
It’s kind of along the same lines as when you’re in a store and you’re at the check-out and when you go to leave the cashier says, “Allez. Au revoir”. The first time I heard that I was like dang they’re saying “go! bye!” as in, “get the heck outta my store”! Of course, I was jumping to conclusions, but it took me forever to figure out that this was not rude to say. At the time, it just seemed rude for some reason to me.
Well the other day, when I was at the market at the check-out, the cashier says to me as I rolled the basket pass the counter trying to empty its contents, “Je vous ecoute”. Now I just stopped and stared at her cuz 1) this is the first time I had ever heard this while not being in a restaurant and 2) I wasn’t ordering anything so I didn’t know what to say. Therefore, I just stood there looking at her with a confused look on my face (you know, the deer in the headlights kind of thing). A couple seconds went by and I just shrugged my shoulders and went back to emptying my cart.
Well she says to me again “Je vous ecoute”. At this point, I kind of frowned, thought about it, and then just said the first thing that came to my mind while looking straight at her which was, “Bonjour”, thinking that I forgot to say it and didn’t want to be rude.
Then she said back, “Bonjour, je vous ecoute”. What the heck! Was I on a hidden camera show! What did she want me to say? Then as she saw that I had no clue what was going on, she finally said, “Combien bouteille de l’eau?” as in, “How many bottles of water do you have?”. Ohhhh, that’s what she was waiting for!
See I had a few water bottles in my cart and I hadn’t yet got to the point of putting them on the conveyer belt. Normally I buy a few of those heavier 6 packs and I peel off the bar code, give it to the cashier and tell him or her how many I have without them asking. This time I only had a couple of bottles so I was just going to put them up there for her to scan through. They weren’t heavy and it was easy to have her scan so it never occurred to me that she was asking me how many water bottles I had! Why didn’t she just ask me how may waters I had?? I think she knew I was a foreigner and she was trying to trick me. Well it worked. Score one for the cashier!
So now I know that when I’m in the market and I hear,
it really must mean “How many waters do you have”! If they try to ask me that and I don’t have any water, I’m really gonna be lost 🙂
Oh the wonders of the French language! Gotta love it and learn it!
The new word I learned today was kif-kif. My colleague at work, who is French, decided she was just gonna throw that one in and I possibly might not catch it! Ha! She was wrong. I get such a wide variety of French “familiar” words from her. It’s awesome.
She was comparing something while telling me a story and instead of the usual “c’est presque la meme chose” or “c’est pareil” she slide in kif-kif instead. “Hold the phone”, I said. “Back up and tell what that means”, as I got out my notebook in which I write down all the slang terms in French that I hear.
Every time I ask her, she just laughs and says, “Oh, it’s really familiar”. No kidding! Really ?? Cuz that’s why I want to know it! I need to speak cool French, not school book stuff. Please….
So in her description of kif-kif she pointed out that you use it when you are comparing things that are really similar, nearly the same.
So in my rendition to her, just to be sure I had it down, I said, “So, it’s kind of like our level of French. Yours and mine are pretty much kif-kif”. She just gave me a dumb look and said, “No, not really” and then walked away.
Burst my bubble today, I tell ya.
But ya know what? Someday my level of French will be kif-kif with hers. Like in 5 years, when I can actually understand this language! Dang conjugation and slang.
Tant pis, simply put, means too bad.
I have a colleague that says this all the time and it sounds so much funnier when she says that, than when we say it in English. She always says it in regards to when someone doesn’t take advantage of something they should have. Then it is simply too bad for them.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to go to Roland Garros to see the French Open. I was offered two free tickets for the day and sit in the VIP lounge of a certain company who offered these tickets to me, and be wined and dined for the day. The problem was that I did not receive the invitation when it was first sent to me. According to the sender of the invite, that was back in February.
About 2 weeks ago, I was again emailed by this company and they said that I hadn’t responded to their invite and asked me if I was going to go or not. I replied that I had never received the invitation. I checked my junk mail and spam folder and every possible place I could think of, but alas, no invitation was to be found.
They said they would email it to me again. This time I received it, but there was a big problem, the event was only two weeks away AND in Paris. Now, ya see, the TGV is terrific when you want to go to Paris from the south of France, but when your date of departure is too close to the date you want to buy the tickets, then it also comes with a terrifically big price. Well, it turns out that for me and dude to go to this event we would have to pay more than 500 Euros round trip! What the heck! The trip is a 3 hour train ride why the giganto price! I felt like I was really getting ripped off.
Looking at my budget (me being the only one working and dude a kept man), I unfortunately had to decline the invite. It was going to be too big a hit for my pocket book. Boy was I upset! Two free ticket to the French Open AND lunch in the VIP lounge! When was this ever going to come my way again?? Probably never.
A bit of time has now passed and I am sort of getting over the fact that I didn’t go, but there will always be a little twinge of pain when I watch the French Open knowing that I wasn’t able to take advantage of that one, sweet, instance when I could have had it all.
That is when you say, tant pis pour moi 😦
In the everyday meaning, a carte bleue, is one’s visa or credit card. For example, when I am at the market, the cashier always asks me how I am paying. I reply, “Par carte bleue”.
But, in France, there is another, hidden, darker meaning to this word. It is what a man would call his girlfriend or wife since they “spend all his money”.
Time for a scenario.
Two friends meet for a beer and talk about making plans for watching the big game on the weekend.
Guy 1: “Hey, the guys are coming over this weekend to watch the big game, you comin’?”
Guy 2: “Yah, I’ll be there. What time?”
Guy 1: “About 6:00. We’re frying up some burgers before the game.”
Guy 2: “K-Sounds good.” His phone suddenly rings. “Oh merde, c’est ma carte bleue! I gotta go. Her parents are coming over for dinner tonight . I’ll see you this weekend.”
Now, while this is a seemingly funny, and creative, take on words (I doubt anyone in the states would call their girlfriend/wife their “visa” because it just doesn’t sound right) I take some what offense to it. Personally, I don’t spend all my husband’s money. Right now he is a kept man, so he spends mine! Hey, I guess that makes him ma carte bleue. Touché