Sunday, October 21, 2018

C'EST PAS VRAI


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I came across this cert while looking for something else - as you do.

It brought a smile to my face when I looked at the signatures.

Yes, there she was - Mlle Giudicelli. So she had not been a figment of my imagination. A wonderful lady and a great teacher. Civilisation and refinement personified.

But her teaching methods were down to earth and we had many vigorous debates in class on current affairs drawing on the newspaper of the day.

In the course of one such heated debate she made some statement that I did not agree with. In a knee-jerk reaction I piped up with "c'est pas vrai". There was a sort of a shocked silence as she composed herself and then quietly replied "Monsieur, on dit jamais ça" or perhaps it was "ne" and "cela".

Now it was my turn to be shocked. What had I said? What had I done? I had clearly overstepped some mark.

So I asked "Mais qu'est-ce qu'on dit Madame?"

"Ah, peut-être que Madame se trompe, un peu".

I don't think she went so far as to say "un petit peu", but it was clearly what she had in mind.

And that was the moment when I realised how civilised the French are and how much language matters to them.

Anyway, that was why I smiled when I saw the signature on the cert.

If you want to pursue this line of thought further Jean-Benoît Nadeau will guide you through the swamp, or minefield, as the case may be.

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