I am sure you belong to the people who like talking with the locals… French, with their provocative sense of humour, won’t hesitate to make fun of your accent. While you could simply take it as a compliment, or show your quick sense of repartee by pointing out that hearing your accent also means that you, at least, try it out with foreign languages, you can also quickly get offended. Here is how you can strike back… this quick list will make you sound so French, people will assume your accent just comes from a godforsaken place in the country.
I take those short sentences from my personal life. As we speak some kinds of a “frenglish” at home, those are the ones we simply cannot replace to English.
1- N’importe quoi!
You need to know this short sentence. French use it all the time. It is unfortunately a bit difficult for me to translate it literally. You can be talking n’importe quoi (no sense). You can sell tout et n’importe quoi (anything). You can faire n’importe quoi (do bullshit, go crazy). You can do n’importe quoi to get a job (whatever it takes). Some people behaviour can be n’importe quoi (insane). Ok, I am going to stop there otherwise this all paragraph is going to look like n’importe quoi.
Beautiful drawing from Olivier Daumas
2- C’est pas mon kiff!
This is not my cup of tea but much more today’s. It is crazy because this expression started to pick up when I was around 16 and I guess noone of us ever thought that would last. A song from a French rapper Diam’s broadcasted it and since then, people kept using it. Probably because it is so practical. “C’est pas mon truc!” also works but you could have learnt that one at school.
3- C’est un gros relou!
A good exemple of the “Verlan” language. It is a slang language that features inversion of syllables in a word. Verlan is actually derived from the word “l’envers” which means “the inverse”. “Relou” becomes “lourd” in French. Saying “t’es lourd!” means “you’re a drag”. “Un gros relou” is someone weird, freaky, peculiar, quirky. Young girls very often name boys that have a very insistent way of hitting on them that way.
4- C’est clair!
Interjection that often comes to intersperse a conversation. “For sure!”, “yeah right”, “you bet”…
5- Au cas où.
Simply translated as “just in case”, French use it a lot. On a cloudy day, they would say “take the umbrella, au cas où!” and no need to add “au cas où il pleuve” (in case it is raining). Au cas où is very self-explaining.
6- Ca coûte pas cher!
If you dare saying: “c’est bon marché”, you will officially be tagged as a foreigner. Noone uses “it is cheap” in France. We rather say “it costs not expensive”…pretty terrible sounding but true!
7- C’est trop bien!
“trop” means too much. To express how great something was, we like saying “it is too much good”!
8- Ca me saoule.
Literally, “this is making me drunk”. Real meaning: “it is getting on my nerve” or “I am fed up of it”.
9- Je connais la musique / chanson!
It pinches my heart a bit when I hear this expression. Moms use it all the time when they already know what their kids are going to do… and how that’s going to go wrong. “To know the score” would probably fit there.
10- Bon app’!
Skip the “appétit”, “bon app” sounds so much frenchie!
Swiss bonus!!! I love my dear Swiss neighbor and I want to pay a tribute to them. They use “sans autre” (without other) at the end of a sentence. Those are two magic words. Here are two example.
“You can call me sans autre“: you can call me without thinking twice, anytime…
“I can take the car sans autre?“: without signing anything, filling out a form….