Pardon My French – What Happens When You Dip Biscuits in France | HumorOutcasts

Pardon My French – What Happens When You Dip Biscuits in France

October 25, 2015

Man and woman with shocked expression under the sheet. Fear and adultery concept

We moved to France six years ago. Six years is enough time to get a censorious glimpse of your new home country, experience a fully blown culture shock and as a consequence start lamenting (which is something typical of the French, so I guess we’re ultimately assimilated now).

An integral part of the naturalization process is gaining mastery of the national language. While speaking French was something we’ve grasped before embarking on the intercontinental adventure, getting hold of the colloquial vocabulary posed another set of dejecting challenges.

Communicating with the locals on a day-to-day basis turned out more complicated than the Parisian roundabout system (the rule of thumb is: when you’re driving on the small ones, it’s the person in it, who has priority; but when it’s the bigger ones, it’s the person getting in – the trick is to know which one is which, and that even the French don’t master). 

Double guessing the meaning of most idiomatic expressions meant constantly getting into trouble and stupefying the hell out of petrified Parisians. I dare you to grin at this point unless you experienced personally the crusade of being buttered while having mustard coming up your nose, if you know what I mean.

The French language in particular is as rich in vernacular phrasing as French buttercream (pâte à bombe). Ahead of the German and Italian complexity, or pardon me, butter creaming, it guarantees you getting a short end of the stick without participating in drawing straws altogether.

Here are a few examples of French tongue entanglements.

As it turns out the French have many ways to question somebody’s genius. While they won’t necessary call you an idiot, they’re likely to say you’re as dumb as a broom (Être con comme un balai) or a child who’s cradle rocked too close to the wall (On t’a bercé trop près du mur?).  Not to mention that you have a brain of a cheese sandwich (Vous avez le cervau d’un sandwich au fromage) or simply have a quite low ceiling (Il est un peu bas de plafond). As a result they’ll never offend you directly but in a very eloquent French kind of way.

When it comes to refreshment the French have their own fashion of drinking like fish. They’ll booze like a hole (Boire comme un trou) or lift the elbow (Lever le coude). And after having wind in the sails (Avoir du vent dans les voiles), or throwing behind the tie (S’en jeter un derrière la cravat) they’ll have a wooden face (Avoir la gueule de bois) or be completely buttered (Être beurré).

As we all know food has a special place in the heart of French people. They’ll use every possible excuse to include it in daily language, even if dipping your biscuit may be more naughty than the moral code allows.

They won’t say they’re annoyed but that mustard is coming up their nose (La moutarde me monte au nez). They won’t lie to you but rather tell you salads (Raconter des salades). And they won’t tell you to mind your own business but to take care of your own onions (Occupe-toi de tes oignons). And when it’s all finished and done they won’t say it’s definite but that the carrots are cooked (Les carottes sont cuites).

Another peculiarity when it comes to French judgment is that French men don’t sleep around, they just dip their biscuit (Tremper son biscuit). I think that sums it up fittingly and as a matter of fact explains a lot. What do you think?


Abby LaRochelle

Abby is a former PhD student and lecturer of European studies at McGill University. When she's not busy surviving her midlife crisis without going nuts at, you can find her sipping cheap Champagne and nibbling on macarons from Ladurée in the French countryside. Her writing has been featured at Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop, Scary Mommy Club Mid, All Women Stalk, Vibrant Nation, Midlife Boulevard, She Writes, BlogHer and Bloggy Moms.

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16 Responses to Pardon My French – What Happens When You Dip Biscuits in France

  1. October 27, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    So funny Abby! I’m so glad we have you translating for us! I can only imagine how badly I could butcher the language!

    • October 28, 2015 at 4:06 pm

      Don’t worry Rena, I’m getting in trouble most of the time, so you’re not alone:) Happy to see you here! Abby

  2. Deb Martin-Webster
    October 27, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    My British husband had no idea what “toss your cookies” meant. He kept throwing Oreos at me! Great post Abby and welcome to HO!

    • October 27, 2015 at 4:21 pm

      Thank you so much Deb! That’s a good one, LOL:) Happy to be featured at HO! Abby

  3. Bill Spencer
    October 26, 2015 at 7:59 am

    Can we slow down? I don’t usually go in for French tongue on a first post.

    • October 26, 2015 at 9:05 am

      Hi Bill! Well, if you want to do it the French way (I mean writing:) then talking about dipping biscuits is the least you could do in the first post. From there it can only get worse (or better, depending on perspective:) in terms of naughtiness (wink).

  4. October 26, 2015 at 12:20 am

    In Australia I think we would refer to it as “sinking the sausage” 🙂 Fun post Abby and I now feel a little more French – especially in regard to roundabout usage – which freaked me out just watching it all in Paris!

    • October 26, 2015 at 9:09 am

      I love that: sinking the sausage! Who would figure? I guess I was too young to comprehend back then in Sydney. Thank you so much Leanne for popping in:)

  5. October 25, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    Shared on Facebook.

    • October 26, 2015 at 10:37 am

      Thank you for sharing Paul! I appreciate that:)

  6. gloria walker
    October 25, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    DearAbby , You are sure getting around girl . I told you you have a Great Gift . From your biggest Fan ?.

    • October 26, 2015 at 10:44 am

      Dear Gloria,
      The fact that I’m featured here today is all thanks to you! I would have never dared if not for your encouraging words:) Yours forever! Abby

  7. October 25, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    Great post Abby! Welcome Aboard and I loved your first contribution!

    • October 26, 2015 at 10:46 am

      Thank you Donna! Your encouraging words mean so much to me:) I’m so happy you liked my post. Abby

  8. October 25, 2015 at 7:32 pm

    I love that! They dip their biscuits! Actually, a very nice way of putting it!

    • October 25, 2015 at 8:09 pm

      Thank you so much Tam! In fact, they do plenty of other less legitimate things (for which of course they have ultra funny names) – more about it later. I’m happy you liked it:)

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