For the uninitiated – and if you don’t know by now, why don’t you know? – my partner is French. She tries her best to incorporate her language into our day-to-day life, as a way to keep it fresh in her mind, as well as teaching our children, in the hopes of making them – at least partially – bilingual.
Bearing in mind that my children are 2-and-a-half and 5-and-a-half years old, have a look at our current top ten French words and phrases.
‘Non’ – meaning: No. Generally accompanied by one or many exclamation marks. This word is uttered several hundred times a day, is top of the charts, and will remain there for sometime.
‘J’ai dit non’ – meaning: I said no. This phrase will usually follow on the heels of ‘non’, pitch may be higher and louder. If child does not respond well to this then situation may escalate and use of ‘naughty step’ may be required.
‘Ca suffit!’ – meaning: That’s enough! Generally employed after the kids have been fighting beyond their allotted daily fighting time of 2 and-a-half hours.
‘Ce’st pas vrai!’ – meaning: No way! I don’t believe it! You’re kidding! Mainly heard after one (or both) of the children have spilt their drink for the 30th time/dropped their food on the floor for the 16th time/completely uninstalled all programs of the computer and flipped the screen upside down for the 12th time (this has actually happened).
‘Enfant penible’ – meaning: Annoying child. Applicable in a wide variety of circumstances e.g. eldest child wants to go on computer, and has now been whining the words ‘want to go on computer’ – with no pauses for breath – for 37 minutes.
‘Arret!’ – meaning: Stop. Again, applicable in a wide variety of circumstances e.g. youngest child is stood in the kitchen, urinating on the floor immediately adjacent to her potty.
‘Mon dieu’ – meaning: my God. Picture the scene; you have just tidied the house top to bottom, both kids are sat happily having their tea, all is calm. You happen to leave their vicinity, stepping perhaps into the hall to adjust your hair, taking no more than two minutes. In that time both kids have emptied their food on the floor, knocked the table over, turned off the TV, taken all their clothes off and your daughter has urinated on the kitchen floor. Again. That’s when this phrase is uttered.
‘Vous Fatigeuz’ – meaning: you are tiring. Children are full of energy and can keep going all day long. This is because they are slowly draining the life force out of their parents.
‘qu’est-ce que c’est’ – meaning: what’s going on? You are upstairs. You only came up here for a minute. Everything was peaceful when you came up here. The kids weren’t even in the same room. And one of them was asleep. But now both kids are crying. And they’re pointing the finger at each other. And the kid from next-door is now in the house as well. Who let him in? How did they unlock the door? Where are his parents? This is when you say….
‘Aller!’ meaning: go/hurry up. My children have two speeds: faster than the human eye can follow or – when you are in a rush and have to drop them both off at nursery/school before going to work – glacially slow. This entry will no doubt climb the charts, particularly when they hit puberty.