Ms. Nice Girl

Anne. Yes, HER.

After the countless first dates (and the very countable and singular second date) of the past five months, I’m finally starting to realize that there is a fundamental problem with dating Frenchmen: the French language.  Simply put, the French language simply is not capable of expressing my strong — and decidedly Anglo — personality.  In French, I come across as — horror of horrors — a very nice person.

(In this context, I equate “very nice” with “hopelessly boring.”  Like Anne, from Arrested Development.)

Don’t get me wrong, I think that French is a beautiful language.  I’ve had a love affair with the language since a very young age.  The silky, elegant language that I learned in school, the language that I use at work in academia, is perfect for expressing inconsequential musings, philosophical diatribes, passionate poetry, and all-around fluffy bullshit.

However, when it comes to, for example, calling someone out on their fluffy bullshit, there simply aren’t words or constructions in French that could accurately express an Anglo’s feelings.  So instead of saying “bullshit,” I must settle for “conneries” — which is woefully inadequate.

Furthermore, when you say “conneries” aloud, you sound like a pansy.

Therefore, in the dating context, my Parisian dates receive a similarly watered-down version of my personality — through no fault of my own.  I blame the French language.

For example…

English:  I’m so off-my-face shit-housed right now.

French:  I’m very drunk.

English:  That bankteller today was a fucktarded sonofabitch, and I wanted to rip his face off and set it on fire.

French:  That bankteller today was annoying, and I wanted to kill him.

English:  Dude, what the hell is your problem?!

French:  Euh, what are you doing there?

English:  <insert any generic yo’-mama joke>

French:  ….

English:  I don’t date losers.

French:  <System error – There is no French word for “to date.”  Neither does the word “loser” exist in French.  And when I say “I don’t” without finishing the sentence, my date also thinks that I’m a little slow in the head and assumes that I will therefore stupid enough to make him my boyfriend.>

English:  I’d rather give birth to cactus-people quintuplets without any anesthetic than go out with you again.

French:  I’d prefer not to go out with you again.  “Bonne continuation.”

English:  You are so full of crap.

French:  Stop saying “conneries.”

English:  Son of a whore shitfuck fuckityfuckmotherfuckingfucker FUUUCK.

French:  Putain, merde.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Part of the problem is the fact that French isn’t my native language.  Of course, I recognize that.

But I wholeheartedly believe that even native speakers aren’t able to replace good ol’ American vulgarity with a French equivalent.  And I can tell you from personal experience that sarcasm never translates the same way either.  My dates spend a significant amount of time giving me blank looks.

On the Parisian dating scene, I'm like this car. The wrong shape, too brightly colored, and parked the wrong way.

In English, I find that I can sometimes be borderline offensive.  I like to think that it’s part of my unique charm.  However, in French, I can’t seem to offend anyone even if I tried.  If I could properly offend anyone, I wouldn’t have to deal with a Parisian guy calling me every week for over a year after I went on one date with him.  If I could adequately express my wrath, shock, dismay and general disillusionment to my Parisian dates, they would not be so deluded as to think that they have a chance with me.

What’s the French equivalent of “I’m just not that into you?”

As far as I know, there is none.

La personne suivante, s’il vous plaît.

(See how goddamn nice that sounded in French?!)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

n.b. When the French translated the title of the film “I’m Just Not That Into You,” it became “Ce que pensent les hommes” (What Men Think).  Do you see what I have to deal with here?!


Filed under Misses

47 responses to “Ms. Nice Girl

  1. Can’t you at least translate the metaphors into French…?

    • I’ve tried that a few times. They are usually just baffled and a little bemused. And they say, “Aww, that’s cute.” Hardly the response that I was looking for when I was trying to express wrath or disdain. Frustrating.

  2. Alex

    But now you can seduce non-French speakers the world over as you tell them off. It’ll pay dividends in the future.

  3. Ugh, this reminds me of all the times I had to deal with French clients at the bar.
    What I wanted to say was: ‘Are you a complete fucking moron-pansy-ass man?!?! Why for the love of all that is Holy would you order strawberry syrup in your beer?! It’s the ultimate beverage for men, and you sir-are not doing your gender any favors.’
    What I settled with was: ‘That will be six euros please. No, I will not give you my phone number. Oh, THANKS for leaving ten cents as a tip.”


    • Ugh, that strawberry syrup thing always makes me shudder. I really wish that there were a succinct French word for “fucking moron-pansy-ass man.” It would really come in handy here.

  4. That’s odd, I don’t remember writing that, you must know two Alexes.

    I know precisely what you mean, but it goes far deeper than idiomatic language. If language is used to express thought then the very fact that so little is truly translatable surely means that the French and Anglo minds are very different. Even if it is possible to translate it results in blank looks, and a silent question forming as to why this person in front of les francais is saying these things.

    I don’t mean that this means that one language is inferior to the other, and in no way should any French reader feel insulted when I note that English has a vocabulary four times as large as French. However should you take offence, forgive me dear francais(e) for deranging you, I’m truly desolated.

  5. Ben

    I feel your pain. I love swearing (and women who do) and it’s horribly frustrating not to be able to cuss someone out properly.

    While lacking the French language’s silky smooth slobbery seduction, Japanese does share a shocking lack of expressive vulgarities.

    I’ll be the first to admit that my Japanese sucks balls, but I have managed to learn some of the worst possible things to say. ばか (baka) means ‘crazy’ or ‘stupid’.. roughly equivalent to the English ‘jerk’ or ‘dummy-head’. The closest thing they have to the word ‘fuck’ is くそ!(kuso!) meaning ‘shucks’ or ‘gosh darn it’.

    The only way you can say something really bad about someone is by saying things literally. ‘You have poo around your anus’ is a pretty sharp comeback from where I’m from.. meaning that you are ‘unclean’ because, well.. you have poo around your anus.

    The only real filth is found within the context. Here is my hands-down, all-time favorite, beautifully absurd and filthy thing I’ve learned in Japanese.. ready..?

    It goes something like this – さきちょだけ (saki cho dake) and means ‘just the tip’.

    The idea is that a girl who is not interested in having intercourse will, after some consideration, allow the guy to insert ‘just the tip’. As in:

    “Come on baby, I’m so hot for you..”

    “Baby, pleeeease!”

    “Just the tip?”
    “Well…. I guess that wouldn’t really count as doing it… ok then.”


    • OMG. I am totally going to start telling people they have poo around their anus. Face!

      And Ben, Ben, Ben, we Americans have already caught on with the “just the tip” craze. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard this…

      The Japanese rock. They’re the coolest people on earth as far as I’m concerned.

      By the way, isn’t “fuck” pretty much universal now? Manshopper, can you just throw a few of these in for good measure?

      • Ben

        Dearest singlegirlie,

        I hope you do start telling people they have poo around their anus. I think it’s a great ice-breaker at parties, wedding rehearsals, class reunions, etc.

        I guess I’ve been away from America far too long. I can’t believe anyone would actually attempt to get away with the ‘just the tip’ ploy. So, if you had a nickel for every time someone tried this, you’d have a big sack of nickels? Clearly you’re letting the heavy petting get a bit far with the wrong type of crowd.

        I have to figure most people are chumps. How else can you explain Evian spelling ‘naive’ backwards? Same holds true for the Japanese. There are a fair number of meat-heads bumping into each other here, but the ratio of good to bad seems better here than elsewhere. It’s a great place to be.

        I think ‘fuck’ is universal to a point. It just doesn’t communicate the same intent over here. I can say “fuck you” to a Japanese person and they would likely respond with, “I am rather displeased with you too.”

        “Get fucked!” —> “thank you :)”
        “Go fuck yourself” —> “how is this possible?”
        “Take a flying fuck”—> “whuh?”
        “Fuck a duck!” —> “I guess if you recommend it, and if I can find one..”
        (note: beastiality is perfectly fine out here)
        “I could give a fuck”—> “yes, please”

        Guess that’s all I have time for now.

        Get fucked! 🙂

      • “Just the tip?!” What the hell is a girl to do with just the tip? I just don’t get it.

        And Ben, I agree with you about “fuck.” While it’s universally recognized, its meaning is not. I told a guy yesterday, “Fuck off, you fucker,” and he started giggling. Yes. Giggling. This was not the response that I was hoping for. Then he said, “That’s so cute.” Thankfully, the kick in the shins that followed was not misunderstood.

        I’ll be concentrating on going off and getting fucked now. Thanks for the inspiration, Ben 🙂

    • FYI Man Shopper- You could get away w/ “Kuso” meaning “Shit” and being more vulgar b/c you’re female.
      And Ben, try “kusoyaro” to other guys who are basically “shitheads.”

      • Hahaha, the Japanese are so polite. I just learned today that “just the tip” was from Wedding Crashers. Another morsel we’ve stolen from the Japanese. They are really starting to kick our ass in the pop culture department – we’ve even got Harajuku girls walking around in broad daylight here in LA. Soon we’ll have horror stories on toilet paper.

        And yes, MS, what are we to do with a tip? Especially an Japanese man’s tip? Just sayin’ 😉 Fortunately I’ve heard this more on the Internet than in the bedroom. Yeah, I’m back peddling.

  6. Maybe you could just start making up words and spreading them around. Just think about it. Somewhere in the world (ok, United States) there is the person who managed to go from “planning to” (considering, plotting, etc.) to “fixing to” to “finna” give you a beating. I can already see your name printed in wikipedia and It’s time to Tim Gunn the french language. 🙂

  7. Talk about lost in translation. Not being to express yourself clearly must be frustrating for all concerned.

    Anyway, I’m with Something She Dated – make up words and impress them with your creativity. Creative types are rarely called boring, right?

    • Very frustrating. But I’m somehow not very good at thinking on my feet in French. I’ll have to practice being creative under the time pressure of a date conversation. Looks like it’s time to find more test subjects!

  8. No, but they are shot at dawn in the courtyard of l’Académie Française.

  9. Talk about lost in translation! How frustrating!

  10. Strangely enough, you speak perfect Brooklyneese. Coincidence? Je ne crois pas.


  11. Xyzzy

    Your post was one of the best laughs I’ve had in a while… In case you haven’t seen it before, the blog on often-obscene foreign language mishaps at might be useful or at least somewhat amusing.

    • Glad that I could provide laughs, Xyzzy! I will check out that site. I’m sure that many people have made the mistake that I did when I told a coworker that I was horny instead of overheated. Until she remembered that I was a foreigner, she was very uncomfortable.

  12. Aww, I’m sure you could be offensive if you really put your mind to it! Work on the non-verbal communication, like your snarl, or a ridonkulous eye-roll.

    Or maybe you can invest in some props, like a large dildo and you can simulate shoving it up someone’s ass. But then you’d have to carry around a big bag and that could get tiring.

    Errrr. Hm. Too offensive? I’m in a mood. 😉

    • I’m going to start practicing in the mirror now! I hope that my eye-rolling and snarling skills are better than my eye-flirting skills. We shall see…

      I’m in a mood too, singlegirlie. The dildo idea is under serious consideration.

  13. This is depressing! (And slightly hilarious, towards the lacking in the French language.)

    Seriously, Frenchmen… GET IT TOGETHER! I consider myself a very, very nice person – but even that would frustrate the hell out of me! Sometimes you just gotta let the shit hit the fan, you know?! 😉

  14. this is awesome in so many ways, though it sounds a bit like me when my backhand sucks: “my strings are so loose!” or “my shoulder is bothering me.” It’s highly unlikely that the equivalent of your sauciness doesn’t exist in the French language; you just need to hit the books a little more on this one, and I bet you can find the out-of-print “Get Saucy in French” in a used bookstore along the Rue de Luis (though don’t buy the recipe book of the same name by accident.)

    • You have a good point. I’ll have to take some instruction in the dirtiest street French. If I can’t find “Get Saucy in French,” it looks like I’ll have to date the dodgy kebab shop guy.

      (However, I would love to get my hands on that recipe book.)

  15. Bonne histoire! Mais ne sont pas tous les hommes difficile à comprendre? (but then again aren’t we all!)

  16. Hm, I think this may be a case of the ‘nun school girl’ French and the ‘other’ French. Do you not have any French girlfriends or close guy friends that you can relate your tales to? I’m sure they could come up with some expressions to describe these very very sad frenchmen. Or you can always revert to stick figures. Nothing like a clear visual!

    • Stick figures are a brilliant idea! I’m going to take a notepad and pen with me on my dates from now on. I can also use it to take down notes for blog material 🙂

  17. Hmm. Maybe using the English words will resolve the “being nice” dilemna…don’t they hate it when Americans speak English?

    I think the fact that they don’t have a word for dating says it all.

    What about French Canadians? Can you use some of their phrases??

    • I have a very difficult time understanding Canadian French, for some reason. And many words in Canadian French, while a direct translation of English words, are also incomprehensible to French-French speakers.

      As for hating it when Americans speak English, this doesn’t always apply to me because they think that it’s cute when petite Asian girl speaks a non-Asian language. I just can’t win 😦

    • Jennetta

      It doesn’t work!! I’m french-canadian and I lived in Paris for a year, but they all laughed when i would curse at them!! They don’t understand it.

      As for the pansy-man…i would just say…”T’es pire qu’une meuf toi!” And for an asshole…just call them “un enculé” it’s pretty much the right translation!

      I hope I could help, even tho i’m a month late!

  18. Child, that’s when you improvise, and stick your boobs out and shove them in the face of the French guy you’re dating and then swiftly pull them away and say, “non, non, non”!

    They’ll understand that you’re a bag of chips and “all dat” and they just missed out!

    It’s the equivalence to, “You coulda had all dis playa!”

    And you can spit as you walk out–for xtra drama!

    Let me know how it works out for ya! Oui?

    • Oh Nando, I love you. I only wish that I could try boob-warfare but I don’t have enough boobage to stick out and shove into men’s faces 😦

      However, I will definitely try to up the drama and say “You coulda had all dis playa!” And I would love any excuse to spit and storm out. I’ll get back to you with my findings!

  19. So what you’re telling is “pardon my French” is an utterly useless statement?

  20. “What Men Think?” Really? What a total lack of imagination. But I think there’s so much lost in translation across Europe with movie titles.

    After years of studying Spanish, I know when we Americans try to translate Spanish phrases, which are colorful and so unique, we butcher them to something simple and to the point, totally losing the nuances and flavor. Sometimes this is out of necessity because out of context, it makes no sense at all to us, but sometimes it also out of laziness, not wanting to stretch our own imagination.

    Did you ever read _Foreign Tongue: A Novel of Life and Love in Paris_ by Vanina Marsot? Some of the novel is almost nauseating to get through but she tackles the French language in a way that might give you more insight into that foreign tongue of theirs.

    • I’m with you on the out-of-context butchering. Language is always a very tricky thing, and it’s always going to be a factor in the dating process for me. I will definitely check out that book sometime when I’m wandering in bookstores soon!

  21. I totally hear you on this. I don’t think I could really fully convey my personality while speaking French (especially with how my conversation skills are these days. must. practice. french.). But as a general rule, I find people are generally more animated in their native language.

    I’ve dated a few French Canadian (Quebecois) guys & even though they usually speak close to perfect English there is always this slight disconnect. I can’t quite explain it but, I feel like it comes down to sense of humor. There are certain things that are only funny in French (and vice versa). Over Christmas my BF and I were watching a Quebecois Comedy show. I was giving him a running translation & he was like “And this is funny WHY?”. I couldn’t explain it. It was only funny in French.

    I guess this is when “Lost in Translation” really applies.

  22. hermine

    So many things to say to that I don’t know were to start.
    Well.. let’s try: first I’m french I think that’s quite relevent here.
    But I’m also fluent in english: i read in english, watch movies in english and I also work in english.
    So basically more than half the time I think in english.
    And I’m sarcastic.
    In my mind! Cause it’s hard to translate in french!
    So I either come across as a clown or as one mean bitch.
    So if you want to be bitchy in french let me tell you it’s totally possible. The thing is: you probably miss it because it doesn’t have the same impact on you. We grow up with codes of things that we are supposed to be offended by and they are different in each country. Like being compare to a girl for a guy. OK I will stop the boring ( and useless) lecture here with an example:
    – fuck off, you fucker.
    there is a perfect(!) translation to that in french, it’s ” casse-toi, pauvre con”. Remember Sarkozy saying that?(
    If you translate it litterally it goes like: get out of here you dumb dummy!
    But really, it’s fuck off, you fucker.
    I have to disagree with one translation I saw here, to me asshole should be translated by “connard” and “enculé” is more motherfucker. It’s quite violent, “enculé” while also literally a very passive thing….
    Anyway, I’m in paris for a few days, I come and go a lot but if you’d like a private lesson on how to swear properly and express your utter disgust for a human being in french I’m up for it.
    I am after all, I am une vraie connasse.

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