Thursday, July 19, 2007

Beurk!

When I first learned French, I cracked everyone up with my Spanish-influenced gaffes. For example, instead of ca me fait peur*, I said ca me donne peur*. Another "hilarious" (to them, not to me) mistake was Tu me fais vomiter** instead of vomir**. I soon learned the right thing to say and instead started making people laugh at how shocking my language was.

For some reason, Jube and I were talking about all the different ways to say "vomit" in English. We have so many wonderful words, like throw up, puke, up-chuck, hurl, retch, heave... and each one is beautifully descriptive of a specific way we regurgitate our food. Jube then taught me gerber, which is a particularly nasty way of saying vomir (or vomit). Since French is not my native language, I had no qualms about using it in front of others, until one day I expressed myself in front of the wrong problem. Poor Belle-maman! She has to put up with three sons who are generally less than delicate at the dinner table and a daughter-in-law who didn't hesitate to say that she dislikes some foods because ca fait gerber. It didn't take me long to stop bandying the word around for the laughter it produced...

Back in the US, I was walking down the baby aisle in the local grocery store and was surprised to rediscover the best-selling baby food brand:

The baby does kind of look like it has a little gift for you, doesn't he? And of course it looks very similar to the French meaning when you open it up and look inside...

*That gives me scared instead of that makes me scared (loosely translated, of course)
*You make me vomitit instead of you make me vomit (yeah, that's a really loose translation)

4 comments:

Leah said...

You forgot barf and my personal favorite: toss your cookies! Hehe. I gotta say gerber is one of my favorite words in French...it's one of those words that just sounds like what it means.

Lee Ann said...

Never put the two together but you're right! then again, since most babies gerbent constantly, I suppose that's an appropriate name.

Also, I'd say the translation is more like "That gives me fear." Noun as opposed to adjective. That's how I remembered to always say "I have hunger" in French -- which has, weirdly, made its way into my English speaking style.

Caroline in Rome said...

I always say ├ža me fait peur even though I know it's wrong. :) It's what comes out naturally. As for the number of words for vomit in english, well, English has so many more words and expressions than almost any other language and new ones are being invented every second...

Jube said...

What's wrong with "Ca me fait peur?"