grandir: Growing up in Paris + a link to Tuesday's exciting talk!
Winetasting meetup + Three ways to say "spring fever"

A Hussy to the IRS + Next meet up (at the docks after midnight, wink wink!)


Hey, IRS. I've got my purse out (little red-rimmed bowl to the right) and I'm fixin'--yet again!--to hit on the sailors here at the port. Read on and see what the Internal Revenue Service seems to think I'm up to! (Note: today's edition is best viewed online, where all images will appear with the story text. Click here.)

    => Join Kristin and Jean-Marc on Monday, April 28th! Details at the end of this newsletter. 

faire sa sainte nitouche (fer sa sent nee toosh)

    : to act like a prude, to be a prude

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc, God knows I should:
Download MP3 or Wave file

"Elle fait sa sainte nitouche," dit le fisc Americain, "mais on sait où elle habite!"
"She acts like a prude," says the IRS, "but we know where she lives!"

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

A Hussy to the IRS

"Listen to this," I say to my husband, waving the letter I've just received from the tax authorities. The Internal Revenue Service, or le fisc américain, has been trying to correct my name and address for some time, and this latest attempt is downright hurtful.

"Kristin Espinasse, 'Pute de Port!' That's what they've written this time--instead of 'Route de Port'!"

They haven't even gotten to my house number--line three, after my route (normally line two)--before I've taken the first blow to my ego.

"Tiens. Donne-moi ça," Jean-Marc snickers. Grabbing the envelope, he's shaking his head in appreciation. But when his eyes meet with an icy regard, he's quick to wipe the grin off his face. "You are not a slut, Darling. Look, there's an "o": poute--not pute!

"Go ahead then, you pronounce it!" I dare the Frenchman to make Poute de Port sound any better, with or without the self-respecting "o"!

I stop to listen, unconsoled, then do what any so-called Loosey Goosey would do: turn to Facebook for pity... with this outcry:

See Facebook message

A few seconds later, the sympathetic responses begin to roll in like drunk sailors--except the first reply leaves me standing, hands on hips:

Hidden income


To respond to this story, click here. If you are reading via email could not see the images in the story, above, click here.

Book Update
First French Essais received a surge in book reviews the eve of Tax Day. How to explain it? Meantime, if you have enjoyed First French Essais, thanks for rating my book on Amazon. Your review may help someone to find my book in a sea of livres.  

French Vocabulary
le fisc américain = the IRS
tiens = here
donne-moi ça = give me that


Keeping with the sailor theme, here are some hand-tied fish nets hammocks, in the town of Sète.

Kristi and jean-marc

Join Kristi and Jean-Marc at Port de la Madrague, Monday 04/28 from 3:30 to 5 PM for a casual meet up at a friend's restaurant. We will provide tapas and 3 samples of Chief Grape's wines (enjoy his first Bandol rose!). A 10€ participation is asked. Email Jean-Marc at [email protected] for details.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Audrey Wilson

Don't forget the fishnets( les bas) I mean !!!
There are countless stories of hilarious translations. Someone( ? um) should write a book. Here's one we came across at a campsite
'Any stranger to the camp surprised in the lavaboteries will have to pay a fine to the management'
What a picture that conjures up !!

Sandy Wirth

Yes what a great next book. You can use my story about the "matelot" I kept under the bed to sleep on on our tiny apartment.


I was interested in taking: "Tour of the hole of the area" seen in a Swiss hotel.

Nancy, San Antonio, Texas

The misdeeds of the IRS are legend. Your story started my day with a good laugh - how fitting on tax day. Still reading your new book and enjoying all the stories and the pics; deckled edges etc. Reading a couple at a time is a treat every few days.

Mistaken translations is a good idea for a book or a comedy routine - Jimmy Kimmel are you listening? So many laughs to be enjoyed!

As always enjoying your posts and thanks for sharing.

Robin from Encinitas, CA

I still have to watch myself when I want to refer to Bordeaux's Place des Quinconces....Place des Quinze Cons always slips out.

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,

I like Lou Plauché's sense of humor. haha

Kathleen from Connecticut

Well, what can we say...the IRS is probably upset that you moved to France and is getting back at want your money.
My husband is still working on taxes...ugh...the eleventh hour rush.
There was a red moon last night, but because of the overcast sky, we were unable to see it...I was so looking forward to it...have to wait for six months for the next one.
Will you have a get together at the beginning of September? We will be staying in La Ciotat.
A bientot....Kathleen


Embarrassing dinner table conversation of '60-'61 Junior year in Paris:

Je veux nager dans la pissoir......


What a great way to start tax day - laughing. LOVE Lou's humor as well as yours & Jean Marc...

Diane Young

I vote for Claudette's linguistic error.. Quel risible(?)!


Où se trouve le Port S'il vous plait?

Max Roberts

Good to know such things, e.g. Pte de Port.

Languages are not a forte among Americans. English challenges us enough! Just imagine the possibilities, if matters become complex.

Cannot advise on US taxes, which I understand US tries to levy on Americans' incomes from no matter where. It's meshuggeh, but the aim seems to be ensuring that we are not cheating Uncle.

US tax treaties with France may let you offset French income taxes you pay against American taxes owed or may let you escape US tax entirely provided your income does not exceed a certain sum -- usually pretty attractive.

None of your husband's earnings or his business's earnings should enter the picture, unless you are a paid-in shareholder or partner in his firm. But only a qualified, tax lawyer should tell you what is what so you can sleep at night. If your lawyer's advice is off, that does not excuse failure to pay past due. .

US Embassy could refer you to the relevant document if not send you an actual copy in both languages.

Laura Collins

They're not fishnet although they're made of rope and are tied with the knots fishermen use. Notice the use of color which no fisherman would bother with. They are...... hammocks of various sizes to catch sleeping kids or adults.


Kristin Espinasse


In St Cyr Les Lecques. For more details, email the address at the end of the post. Hope to see you.

Wendy Dewar Hughes

I'm reading your book now, slowly, a little at a time so as to savour it. I lived in Provence many years ago, near Lambesc. I am so ready for another "visite". Your book brings back many lovely memories.

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks for the Lost in Translation stories. Keep them coming! 

Kathleen, LOL, so that is why they called me that! Also, good to know you will be in La Ciotat. We hope to see you and Dean. 

Helen Mills

Use the form "you're not a xxxx, darling" instead of "your not"......meaning you are not, not the possessive adjective, your.


Thanks for the laugh at the expense of the IRS. After sending of my last check to that infamous institution, laughing was good for me.
Still loving your insight into life. Thanks again for sharing !

Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm

Oh dear! I welcome your humor as I make my way to the post office with a check made out to the IRS :/ Thank you Kristi! Still giggling...

Joan Linneman

I think it's interesting how the French pronounce the Russian president's name. Linguistically, he should be your "soul brother", but they say "pu-teen".
Thanks for the laugh... Joan L.

Patty Cummings

Just ordered Blossoming, and just discovered you! I too lived with my ex, a Frenchman in France. I can truly relate!

Jill Switzenberg

Loved your story today. Gave me a good chuckle. Don't take it personally. The IRS gets LOTS of things wrong!


Hi Kristin,
My favourite gaffe was at my first place of work in Austrayia (Australia)in 1972... speaking about dogs with my mostly British colleagues... when asked what breed my dog was I said Oh, he's just a bastard! True to their legendary prudishness my colleagues did not correct me... a hushed silence (?)ensued... I had to ask what was wrong... they whispered.. It's not b... it's mongrel...
Re spelling: is it donne-moi or donnes-moi?
Also with or without (not our without)
Jacqueline from autumnal Brisbane


In a French class a few years ago, we were reading a news article having to do with Russia. Why, wondered one of my classmates, do the French spell the Russian president's name Poutine, and not Putin as we do in English?

Ken Scupp

Kristen- I have a similar one for you- true story. I hope it is not too over the top for your readers. Last year, one of our long time neighbors in Vermont was moving to be closer to their children. Their friends, on our road & the next over put together a photo album for them as a "going away" memento. A short time later, a thank you note arrived, for the group from Kelsey Lane and Indian Trail. Our naive friend addressed the envelope to the K.L.I.T. Contingency. Feel free to delete if not appropriate. The group thought it was hilarious.

Marianne Rankin

I can't think of a personal translation error offhand, but have heard that "double-crossed" has been translated "twice blessed."

John, it's possible that the French write "Poutine" instead of "Putin" to preserve the sound. An "-in" ending would have what Americans call a "nasal" sound at the end, as in "vin", "fin," and other French words. If an "e" is added, the name will keep the "n" sound, which is in the original Russian. I believe the French added an "e" to Alexander Solzhenitsyn's name (something like "Soljenitsine") years ago.

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