Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Thursday, June 25, 2009

As I listened to Crystal read a text message from her husband the other day, I started thinking again about the differences between terms of affection in French and English (or at least in American English). Besides all the lovely-dovey ones (mon coeur, mon amour, ma chérie, etc), the French ones mostly tend to come from the animal Kingdom. You've got things like:
-ma puce (my flea)
-mon chat (my cat)
-ma poule (my chicken)
-ma biche (my doe)
-mon canard (my duck)
-ma crevette (my shrimp)

None of them seem particularly endearing to me, but hey, to each his own. Even Fab used to call me "mon lapin" (my rabbit) or "lapinou" (bunny) which I hated at first but then really grew on me over time.

The American ones however are usually food-related:
-sweetie pie
-sugar puff

Any psychoanalysts out there want to speculate what that says about our two countries?



Blogger Princesse Ecossaise said...

LOL, yes that's really interesting! I always used to find being called 'ma puce' repulsive, but it's grown on me and I quite like it now. Argh I'm becoming more and more French every day!

In Scotland we use:

pet lamb

Apart from doll, we seem to stick to the animal kingdom too.

June 25, 2009 at 11:16 AM  
Blogger Animesh said...

Very very interesting.

I am thinking what we use in India, and the only thing that comes to my mind (apart from "meri jaan = my life"m is the face that we do NOT use the significant other's name.

Basically, couples sometimes just choose to not say the other person's name while referring to them. E.g., if a woman starts a conversation with "He said ...", it is assumed that she is talking about her husband/bf.

June 25, 2009 at 11:27 AM  
Blogger annie said...

You forgot "mon poussin". Mon 1er mari m'appelait comme ça au début des années 70 !

June 25, 2009 at 12:20 PM  
Blogger Stacy said...

LOL that's hilarious! I never thought about it before but you're so right! Animal v. Food. I'd love to know where this came from...

June 25, 2009 at 3:43 PM  
Blogger wcs said...

Eh bien, mon p'tit chou...
Ma cocotte...
Mon steak/frites...

Ok, I made the last one up.

June 25, 2009 at 4:57 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Oh my. Who calls their sweetie Mon canard? Never heard that one.
My father-in-law calls MIL "ma poule"

June 25, 2009 at 7:24 PM  
Blogger parlez-vous-kiwi said...

That is hilarious, and oh so true. Not so sure about the psychoanalysis of this one but theres got to be something :-)

June 25, 2009 at 8:47 PM  
Blogger Crystal said...

you forgot "ma chienne" :)

June 25, 2009 at 8:54 PM  
Blogger au soleil levant said...

I've thought about this before too, very interesting. Maybe food is too important to the French to be relegated to nickname status?

I do not like "ma biche." To my anglophone ears it doesn't sound right. One of my coworkers calls her daughters "ma biche" and it makes me cringe every time.

June 25, 2009 at 10:26 PM  
Blogger Sleepless In KL said...

this is a very funny post :)

the french do have a term of endearment that uses food -- mon chou (my cabbage), isn't it?


June 26, 2009 at 6:29 AM  
Blogger Ksam said...

Yes, of course the French do have a few food ones as well (as walt already mentioned - mon chou, ma cocotte, etc) - just as the Americans have a few animal ones. That's why I said both countries *tended* to be one way or the other. It's not a hard and fast rule, there are always exceptions! ;)

June 26, 2009 at 10:34 AM  
Blogger Isabelle said...

Cocotte is how small children call hens, so it should fall under the animals section ;)

June 26, 2009 at 11:20 AM  
Blogger Ksam said...

Maybe it can go under both Isabelle? Cuz I was thinking about that one in the culinary sense - as in a casserole/pot or a cocotte minute!

June 26, 2009 at 11:21 AM  
Blogger Zuleme said...

My husband calls me bunny but never ever ever in front of anyone else except the cats. So I guess I'd be a lapin of some sort in France.
My beloved Fergus (cat) was always Petit Garcon, for a reversal!

June 26, 2009 at 12:56 PM  
Blogger Isabelle said...

I know that culturaly the affectionate word cocotte comes from the hen. But why not cocotte minute too!!
Although I wouldn't be happy to learn that someone is calling me cocotte with a cocotte minute in mind...

June 26, 2009 at 1:25 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

By Jove, you're right! I'd never really thought about it.

Too funny!

As for the deeper meaning... I haven't a clue.

June 26, 2009 at 7:23 PM  
Blogger wcs said...

But of course I must add, that even though there are a lot of animals on the French side, they're mostly animals that are eaten and are also, therefore, food! hehehehe :)

Except for the flea and the cat (gasp).

June 27, 2009 at 7:28 AM  
Blogger Cindy in NE said...

You'd think it would be the other way around, wouldn't you? I mean, the French and food and all!

June 29, 2009 at 7:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home