I was in Lille, France, on a month-long study abroad sojourn through my college (Juniata College) and the University Catholique de Lille (where I will be returning Sept. 2012 for an
entire academic year abroad).
At the café, I had just ordered a simple sandwich.
Ordering the sandwich was not the issue; it’s what happened when I got the
sandwich. The “garçon” gave me my sandwich, and I said, “Merci beaucoup!”
Well, at least, I thought I did.
I pronounced it “Merci beau-cul,” which, in French, means, “Thank you, nice ass.” The way “Merci beaucoup” is supposed to be pronounced is, “Merci beau-cooo.” Basically, the simple sound of “cul” vs. “coup” changed the meaning from “very much” to “nice ass.” The garçon giggled, knowing I was American and trying my best. He then proceeded to bend over and showed me his butt in front of everyone on the street.
Now realize, I’ve been taking French for eight years! I should know simple mistakes like this.
Right then and there, I realized that I had been mispronouncing “merci beaucoup” for two weeks straight. I mean, one of the biggest mistakes I understood was the difference
between the two verbs for “to take.” And if you mix that up, in French, it is the difference between “taking someone to a store” and “‘TAKING’ someone to a store” (wink wink sign ’em all sign ’em all).
Well, after the garçon’s little peep show, all of the awkward memories I had with the “beaucoup” and “beau-cul” phrase suddenly flashed before my eyes. I realized that whenever I would say that phrase to my classmates or the interns and professors, they would always laugh. I thought it was a nice gesture, such as, “Aww, thanks! You’re welcome!” Not, “well, you’re an idiot, but at least you’re trying. It’s still funny, though.”
I should be thankful to that waiter; he made me realize one of the biggest rookie mistakes I could make, the hard way. I got the point, and have yet to say it like that since.
He still got no tip.]]>
Wow! Please make sure to enter the contest, your post is amazing. Contest link: http://www.facebook.com/raileurope?v=app_284464858243049
Also, remember to share your entry with your Facebook friends, so they can vote for you.
I enjoyed reading this.
That’s funny and I didn’t know that they served beer at fast food restaurants. It wouldn’t surprise me if they served wine, but beer is surprising. Also, good for you, for not going to fast food restaurants while in Paris! You should experience the full French dinning experience.
I encourage you to enter the contest and then share your entry with your friends for votes. Here is the contest link: http://www.facebook.com/raileurope?v=app_284464858243049
That is a wonderful experience! I saw that you entered the contest. Good luck!
Please remember to encourage your friends to vote for you because the entry with the most votes wins the Eurail Select Pass!]]>