Thursday, June 10, 2010

OK, I Have A Confession To Make

Several of you responded to my French in my last blog, by entering comments in French. Well, I guess I asked for it. I don't actually speak a word of French! I was just trying to be cute, and I used Yahoo's Babel Fish translator. But I'm finding out that doing that, can get you into trouble. Caroline pointed out in an email, that my use of the word baiser, can often be interpreted as rude! I never knew. Now I'm mortified that someone who does understand French, will think the wrong thing. To show you how imprecise the Babel Fish translator is, I copied Lisa's French comment, and pasted it into the translator, and here is what I got:

Lisa's comment - Salut Melissa, l'anniversaire Heureux. Je suis si content que vous avez commencé votre blog et estimez vraiment votre amitié. J'espère que nous avons beaucoup ans plus heureux partageant notre xx des vies

Babel Fish's translation - Melissa hello, l' happy birthday. I am so content that you began your blog and estimate really your friendship. J' hope that we have much happier years dividing our xx of the lives

Thank you Lisa, for giving a far better translation - Hi Melissa, Happy anniversary. I am so glad that you started your blog and really value your friendship. I am hoping we have many more happy years sharing our lives. xx

I think I'll refrain from trying to be cute from now on, and just stick English! But thanks just the same, for the lovely replies, French or not!

Melissa XX


Véronique said...

Just so you know, it's not ambiguous when baiser is rude and when it's not. Un baiser (noun) means "a kiss." "Bons baisers" is very friendly! Baiser (verb) means "to [four-letter-Anglo-Saxonism that means engage in sexual intercourse]." Believe it or not, that second one is much less rude in French than the equivalent would be in English. When even kids say "merde" (as Marie-Laure did in the "French in Action" series) you have to try harder to be truly rude in French. :)

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I was dying from laughter at this post! I thought it was cute the way you ended your last post, but truth be told, I have a hard enough time with the English language, let alone anything else :) Those translation programs can be pretty fun, though.

Jenny said...

I have a confession to make too, I too use Google Translate to form coherent English from the colloquialisms of my native dialect.

Je parle Francais comme un Anglais, c'est a dire avec un accent terrible :)

(incidentally, "Bonne chance et merde" in my other comment is to un grenouille reel an expression of good luck, not a hope that you'll step in something smelly!)

Anonymous said...

Just walking out the dorr but I just had to let you know I cheated to!
Oh joy for on line translators!
Speak when I get back.

Caroline said...

We have enough trouble between American and English English so perhaps we should stick to that!

I am no good at being rude in any language.

Caroline xxx

Anji said...

I've lived there for over 26 years now and avoid writing in French if I can. I'm useless at it. People don't worry so much about using bad words here.

Happy blog birthday!