About the Author

author photo

The French Cycling Bicycle Gourmet - French Country Travel Life Film Maker and Author. Your non-snobby Gourmet Guide to food, wine travel and Lifestyle Adventure!

See All Posts by This Author

French Life Language Quirks

French Language quirks, like everyone else’s, are mostly linguistic. And feature most prominently in “terms of endearment.”It does’nt take an Olympic leap of the imagination to understand – “mon coeur.” (my heart) or “mon petite ange.” (my little angel) Definitely other identical/similiar phrases in many other languages.

But “mon petite poulet”(my little chicken)clearly a unique “love compliment.” N’est ce pas?

However, quirks in the French Language(ever versatile) are not limited to variations on the”you are mine and don’t you forget it” theme. There is one French quirk that  transcends regional boundaries. Hard(actually, impossible) to describe, even with my effervescent prose, is the French Quirk of wordless agreement. Instead of “uh-huh”, “um hum” or even a quick “yeah”, the froggy ones pony up a petite grunt. “Ump”is about the closest words can come. And that’s still a few football fields away from a touchdown.

Of course it’s not just the  wine swilling cheese chompers who spew weird words in unique ways. English Women may call you”duckie”, while the U.K.men(regardless of your name) greet you with “ow right, John?”

But the icing on the English Linguistic quirk cake is the phrase – “Bob’s your Uncle.”(Translation – “no worries”.)

As weird, wack, wild, wonderful and way out as those be(and we have’nt even mentioned Cockney rhyming slang!) – not all English quirks are linguistic.

In another lifetime, I shared a house in the West end of London with two other guys. Phil, a gregarious, always ready to party actor, and Peter , a quiet, but not dead, stenographer.

Since Peter rose at “0-dark-30″(an Americanism for too early to imagine)Phil and I’s primary household concern was to make sure whatever in-house evening we might be enjoying, did not rob Peter of his much needed “z’s.”

Alors ,when/if we came in late, since Peter had no car, there was no way of knowning if he was home or not.

Ever resourceful, as well as gregarious , it was Phil who devised the “PEWS.”(Peter Early Warning System)

“PEWS” was the ultimate triumph of human engineering .Already installed. Fingertip real-time adjustment. No chips , circuit boards ,wires,or transistors. And most important, no maintenance.

Additionally,”PEWS” was a classic quirk-based solution.

Peter’s quirk, being neatness. Order. A place for everything .And everything in it’s place. If he was home, Peter’s first stop would be our postage stamp living room.(Visualize a poor dentist’s waiting room. ….Better yet……….try to visualize a poor dentist! The ultimate contradiction..n’est ce pas?)

And the first stop on his round the room inspection tour would be the faux brass candle holders, on the mantelpiece of our faux fireplace. If, for some inexplicable reason one happened to be ever so slightly mis-aligned – Peter to the rescue!

You’re getting my drift, dear reader, are you not?

Whenever Phil or I left the house, we’d turn one of the candle holders, ever so slightly. If it remained in the same position upon our return, we were assured an all-the-noise-you-want-Peter-free-evening!

I never discovered Phil’s quirk .But, certainly he had one. As do you also dear reader. Everyone has a quirk . Some unconscious personal habit , that is as apparent to the rest o’ the world as a spaghetti stain on a white shirt.

Mine, is, (surprise,surprise)-eating. Not consuming mass quantities at indy 500 speed,mind you. But enjoying something good! Regardless of it’s simplicity, complexity, or price. The word “gourmet”for me means “the best.” And,that can be equally a peanut butter and honey sandwich or a five star restaurant extravaganza.

My quirk, contrary to what you might imagine, did not begin with my discovery of France and subsequent ascension to the lofty pinnacle of bicyclegourmet-dom. It is, in fact,inbred. But not genetic.

As a pre-teen(when, like all pre-teens/teenagers…..I did consumer mass quantities at indy 500 speed)one of my most vivid memories,is of my Mother, asking for “just a little taste” of my Matterhorn sized bowl of Cherry ice cream.”AAAAW  MOM!” of course was my natural  response. But Mom really did want “just a taste.”

Now, like her then, I’m definitely on the “less is more” program.For food, anyway.Wine –  like a beautiful woman, crazy about ya and always available, can be a “severe consumption challenge.”

I never considered myself as having a quirk, until a girlfriend got to calling me “Mr. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.” Inevitable, I suppose, considering the height of her culinary expertise was instant Chinese noodles.

I wear my quirk lightly, aided, obviously by a National lifestyle that revolves around food ,wine and the pursuit of “Le Bonheur.”(Happiness)Buoyed by , and further connected to my fellow humans by the realization that, like a birthmark, our quirks are badges of individuality. And that’s a good thing.

So, What’s your quirk?


what are ya thinkin’?

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

9 Responses to “French Life Language Quirks”

  1. Barry haraldson says:

    YOU are one quirky guy! Don’t go changin’!

  2. sonja petersen says:

    hey there mr breakfast, lunch and dinner. I have the same quirk. Thanks for spotlighting all our quirkiness!

  3. steve thompson says:

    i had a roommate like peter once. Your description totally right one! like the rest of this cool post.

  4. anthony edwards says:

    While there are, obviously, “quirks” in every culture and language,the way you highlighted the French “variations on the theme” was extremely well done.

  5. carson mckay says:

    Your sense of humor never cease to amaze and delight .Particularly “P.E.W.S.” Absolutely first class. Keep it up!

  6. priscilla paris says:

    for me, “Bob’s your uncle” is way quirkier than “my little chicken.”

  7. matt couter says:

    I spent two weeks in France recently, and got up close and personal many times with the “grunt of wordless agreement.” Your description totally nailed it!

  8. alf grimley says:

    as a card carrying cockney, i’d like to see you do a post on cockney rhyming slang. its a unique facet of our language (if i do say so myself!)

  9. patricia wonless says:

    your phrase “badges of individuality” – so right on – reminds me of Ram Dass’s line : “no one is special…everyone is important.” namaste, baba bg!

Leave a Reply

Loading Facebook Comments ...