jeu de mots

I told you we vacationed on the "Planet of the Apes"... but you didn't seem to believe me.

jeu (m) de mots (zheuh deuh moh) locution

    : a play on words, a pun

Do you have a favorite French "jeu de mots"? Example: ever said goodbye to somebody like this: "A demain!" ("See you tomorrow!") only to be perplexed by their "à deux pieds!" ("to two feet!") response? Share with us, here in the comments box, any examples that you know, concerning les jeux de mots.

Explanation: "à demain" sounds like "à deux mains" ("to two hands")... an irresistible opportunity for fun-loving francophone to wish you "a deux pieds!".

Sound File: Download MP3

"Exemple d'un jeu de mots: Tu as raisin, Banane!"
"An example of a play on words is: You have "raisin", Banana!"


A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

"One French Expression, Seamlessly Illustrated"

On the last day of harvest holiday Chef Grape is so relaxed that the very seams of his chemise are showing. Such a detail might go on, casually unnoticed, but for the presence of our 13-year-old fille, "The Fashion Police". Jackie, who, like every French girl, can manage to twist her hair into seemingly unstudied elegance (the truth is, she and her French friends spend saisons learning such "haphazard" hairstyles to go along with their well-thought-out wardrobes) is quick to notice her father's fashion faux pas:

"Papa, retourne ton tee-shirt!" cautions our daughter. Her eyes dart around the pool area, over which we are crossing on our way to the breakfast buffet. Heureusement, no one is here to witness her father's own "unstudied" elegance.

In that delayed response mode which is characteristic of a man en vacances, Jean-Marc, slow as lava,* looks down at his shirt. Things must look just fine to him, for he's not budgin'.

"Papa!" Jackie repeats, "Regarde! Ton T-shirt est à l'envers!"

A revelation is had. Jean-Marc, this time without missing a beat, acknowledges the little fashionista's forthrightness... but not without a lighthearted language jest:

"T'as 'raisin', Banane!" With that, he flips over his T-shirt and we can now see the letters "ESPAGNE!", written vertically down the front.

Meantime, two paces behind the father-daughter duo (otherwise known, for the sake of this story, as "Chef Grape" and "Banana") I am mental-noting the latest jeu de mots, but also concerned... wondering whether raisins  or grapes will ever leave the vacationing farmer's mind, even on Harvest Holiday.

Le Coin Commentaires

Corrections, comments, and stories of your own are welcome here, in the comments box.
Merci d'avance!

Reminder: if you happen to be in Paris on Monday... come to Shakespeare & Co bookshop and listen with me to author Ann Mah. Jean Marc will be serving up some of our Domaine Rouge-Bleu wine after the book reading! 7 pm, Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 - hope to see you!


French Vocabulary

la chemise = shirt

la fille = daughter

la saison = season

le faux pas = the error

Papa, retourne ton tee-shirt = Dad! Turn over your T-shirt!

heureusement = fortunately

en vacances = on vacation

lava = (one more hint, after "Planete of the Apes", as to where we spent our vacation)

Papa! Regarde! Ton T-shirt est à l'envers! = Dad! Look! Your T-shirt is on inside out!

Tu as 'raisin', Banane! = You're right, Banana!

Espagne = Spain

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Smokey gained so much weight while we were away on vacation that you'd hardly recognize him... but for that tongue! Update, last month his face finally and completely healed! The open sore closed completely. (Perhaps this is why he is now so "meatly"?)



Only a little dent, there to the right, hints at the horrible misadventure he had one year ago... Read the story here, if you missed it.


Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Spoken French

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