17 January 2009

Dispatch Franglais

Pretty much every shop and restaurant on Marylebone High Street distributes a magazine called ici Londres, which is, obviously, a free publication aimed at French people living in London. I thought at first it was Marylebone-specific (which would make sense given the proportion of French people in this quartier) but actually, it's for the whole city. 

It is (unintentionally) quite entertaining. For example, there is an advert for a restaurant called "Chais Nous" (pronounced Chez Nous, of course)--goodness knows why because that is neither French nor English, nor even Franglais. The text of the ad describes it as, "a friendly place where you can share with your friends, your spouse or a lover a great glass of wine along with a plate of cheese or charcuterie." You can tell that a French person wrote that advert because we coy Brits would never mention the possibility of taking a "lover" there.

According to its ad, Mon Plaisir, meanwhile, has been "dishing up classic Gaelic fare since the 1940s," which is funny given that its website claims it is London's oldest French restaurant. Then there is the ad for the French Bookshop, which describes itself as "la plus importante libraire française de Londres." This makes me smile because Monsieur Exquisite always translated the French word important in this context as "important" rather than something like "biggest." Given that the proprietors appear to be French, it's not out of the question that they also think it is the most important bookshop in London.

There is even a bilingual crossword (where all of the clues are in English but some of the answers are in French; it's not cryptic so I'm not interested) and a recipe for a cake that is apparently eaten by the English on the Twelfth Night--given this pastry is called "une galette de rois" and given that I've never heard of it, I think they may have got confused with the "galette de rois" eaten in France on the Twelfth Night.

The best bits of all, though, are the petites annonces, which take up about 80% of the magazine's contents. Lots of jobs (apparently South Nowhereshire Council is in need of French-speaking Canadians to act as customer service reps--Canadians specifically? I didn't know South Nowhereshire had a particularly large French Canadian migrant population) and flat-shares but also people offering to do jobs (mainly nannying and house-keeping), usually written in mangled Franglais. Every single one of these "work offered" ads contains the words "dynamic" and "responsable [sic]." An ad for a flat to rent in the quartier specifically mentions the "cliniques dans Harley Street" as a unique selling point. The "health" ads alone take up six pages, which makes sense given how particular the French are about their health--all of these adverts offer French clinics with French dentists, French psychiatrists, French gastroenterologists, and even French homeopathy (because English homeopathy just isn't effective enough...).

I really shouldn't be mean about all the typos and calques in the ads written by individuals, rather than businesses, but some of them really could do with a proofread! "Young French gril, 23 year olds looking for british family. Can take car of childrens, cook them, bring them to school. I'm very reliable and committed person and I already have experience." Would that be experience in taking children to school or in cooking them? "I love children and I can such take care children as duties'house i'm aivable now." What? "I am already aupair in lewisham but i would like to moove. i passed my businnesss exam for 4 months. Next year i want to be Host for an Airfrance. I take care your children." Flighty, then... "Looking for badmington partner to play near Canada. Water on Sundays or weekday evenings." Punctuation! As for the personal ads... "Je cherche une fille sérieuse pour du sérieux" --looking for a serious girl for seriousness; presumably he is an accountant.

Perhaps I should write my own petite annonce--offering a proofreading service for people who would like to write an even vaguely professional-looking advert. Judging by the English and the French used currently, there is clearly a market.

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