Archive for November, 2011

Well, French class continues to be my weekly source of hilarity.

First of all, class demographics. All female.  Half  are half young-ish people in their 20s who are daughters/girlfriends/wives of physicists (and one female physicists). The other half are women in their 40s-50s with children. Kat and I are the only Americans. The rest hail from Italy, England, Japan, Korea, Poland, Russia, Romania and Slovakia. This makes for a lot of interesting french dialects.

It’s a two hour class which is long. When I think back to college, I’d try to avoid those 1.5 hour classes even if I only had to go twice a week instead of three. With intense listening and language talking, two hours is draining. As a result, sometimes I lose my patience and start getting silly.

Take last week. About 1.5 hours into class, we’re going through some verbal exercises that Madame has asked us to model just like the cassette tape. (Yes, I said cassette tape.)


A: Il est comment mon blouson?

B: Ton blouson? Trop grand!

This roughly translates to “What do you think of my blouse?” “Your blouse? Too big!”

Got it? Ok, here’s the next one.

A. Il est comment mon pantalon?

B. Ton pantalon? Trop grand!

Last one!

A. Il est comment mon caleçon?


“What’s a caleçon?”

Madame wrinkles her nose. “That’s hard to explain…” she begins.

Kat grabs her dictionary and starts flipping through as Madame explains, in french, that it’s something that women wear on their legs, sometimes under dresses, and can be long.

Kat finds the word. “Boxer shorts.”

Madame and the rest of the class give us funny looks. But there, in her dictionary, it says boxers. Or, alternatively, long johns.

We’re puzzled as the rest of the class comes to the conclusion that “leggings” is the best translation. I finally ask whether the word can mean some other clothing for a man.

“Yes,” Madame says, apparently remembering this. “It can also mean underpants.” Aha.

At this point, I’ve either had too much french class or realized the ridiculousness of the conversation that we are about to have. “Then, isn’t this conversation a little strange if a guy is speaking?”

Kat and another younger classmate start giggling, realizing what I’ve asked. Madame doesn’t seem to get it, or she doesn’t understand my french so I have to repeat the question. At this point, the older women start to laugh, realizing what I’m asking.

Finally, Madame, with a straight face and in English responds. “Wouldn’t your husband or your boyfriend ask you something like this?”

I suppose the occasion hasn’t come up in our relationship. But, if it does, I’ll be ready.






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