Pull-In pants: J'aime la baguette

Pardon my French: double entendre

It’s been a long time since a pair of underpants got me thinking. (The last time was in the 1980s while flicking through my mum’s Grattan catalogue to be precise, but I digress.)

This rather fetching pair of Pull-In pants did the trick, though. I spotted them in Galeries Lafayette in Paris a couple of weeks ago.

“J’aime la baguette,” proclaims the Lichtenstein-esque face on the front. (I didn’t dare look at the back.)

Now that’s what I call a double entendre. But if I said that to a French speaker, they would look at me blankly. It’s a term we use in English that is meaningless to French people or is used differently in French.

Cul-de-sac is another. I’m sure there are plenty more.

The term double entendre would more likely be translated as expression à double sens. And a dead-end road (usually lined with detached homes) would be a voie sans issue for the French. That’s what the street signs say. I imagine it’s the word cul – bottom, in English – in there that has town halls come over all prudish.

“It’s a term we use in English that is meaningless to French people or is used differently in French”

Then, of course, there are the faux amis – the words that look or sound alike in English and French but which have different meanings.

To continue the slightly smutty tone of this post, brasserie would be a good example. In English, it sounds like a bra, but for the French, it’s a brewery or a bar that serves food.

Perhaps the most amusing, though, is preservative. For English speakers, this is an additive that extends a food’s shelf life. For the French, however, that would be a conservateur.

Put simply, a préservatif is a condom.

And that isn’t a mistake you would want to make next time you’re doing your weekly shop at Intermarché. That would be a faux pas.

This entry was published on Sat, 4 Nov 2017 at 08:01. It’s filed under Language and culture and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Pardon my French: double entendre

  1. ..all good until your baguettes gets sliced..up!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Absolutely LOVING those undies …. I shall sally into Galleries Lafayette here and see if I can nab a pair for my husband 😉. I loved this post and well done for highlighting the condom conundrum …. I’m sure many an unwitting Brit has fallen foul of that one 😬

    Liked by 1 person

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