Saturday, November 9, 2013

getting to "yes" in French

It could be "we" or it could be "wish" or it could be "way" or "weigh" or "a-way" or "whish" or "whey" or "mm-oye" (usually murmured between two people having a close, quiet conversation where one is confiding to the other or that's how it looks to me), or any other iteration or interpretation, in French, of the word "oui."  It delights me to sit and listen to the French talk ~ which they do on and on and on ~ and to deconstruct how they pronounce certain words, "oui" being one that has innumerable interpretations.  There's also the "bah-oui!!" which is like our "but YES!" or "sure!"  Then there's the pursing of lips and blowing out a little puff of air "(puff)-OUI" which is like "don't be stupid!  Of course!"  There are also non-verbal communication skills; the arch and lift of the eyebrow meaning "Who knows", the downturn of the mouth accompanied by the shake or nod of the head which usually indicates the listener doesn't speak the language you're using, or the shrug of the shoulders-eyebrow lift-downturn of the mouth, simultaneously which means "who knows" or "I have no idea where that bakery is you're asking about."

The French don't talk with their hands like the Italians.  It's the face that tells the tale, answers the questions, can be read as a gauge of how funny the story is, how fresh the cheese, how pretty the woman walking by, how outrageous the headline on Le Monde or Le Figaro.  And, of course, how gross is your linguistic faux pas. It's a show not to be missed.

No comments: