Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Look at that S car go!

I was talking to Gervais yesterday.

Gervais is a rocket scientist who looks like a member of Status Quo and rides a motorbike, which I suspect is his real passion.

Oh, and he’s French.

I was teaching him English and he said, “It’s not easy”

I replied – “Well, it’s not rocket science!”

It was inappropriate of me, linguistically inaccurate but worth a laugh I thought – except that I had to explain why I was chortling so much. And translating jokes from one language to another tends to destroy the initial humour.

Anyway, I digress; because what I wanted to say was that together we decided that I should write a Survival Guide for people coming to live in France. We decided also that it might be interesting too for the French people already here who have to live with the people coming to France who aren’t French and have read the book – that I haven’t written yet.

Whether Gervais knows anything about the book market in France remains to be seen.

After we had imagined how we would spend the zillions of euros that each of us would make from the project and whether we would invest any or just blaze it away in reckless abandon and debauchery, he asked me what would be in the Survival Guide.

“There would be a chapter on snails”, I replied.


It was a new word for Gervais so I had to mime the creature for him to guess the French word as part of my employment contract forbids me from using French, even if I happen to know it.

Gervais’ guessing took a long time – not just because miming a snail takes a very long time.

Rocket Scientists are not always beasts of creative imagination.

Looking back on our conversation, from the cold reality of day, it is clear to me that there should also be a chapter on Language.

As someone else, much wittier than I, once remarked –“Those French – they have a different word for EVERYTHING!”

It’s true – they even have a lot of English words that they use in a way that is completely alien to a native speaker of the language.

Like “Baskets”.

Which is pronounced “Bus Kets” not “Barse Kets”.

And the only thing you would put into them are your feet.

Unless it is December the 6th – when you leave them outside your bedroom door.

The Bas Kets, not your feet.

You can see how difficult this book is going to be.

No comments: