What is it with French politicians getting their English messages to President Obama all mixed up?
French President Francois Hollande once made headlines by signing off a letter to the US president with the words: “Friendly, Francois Hollande”, a direct translation of the French “cordialement”.
And now Ecology Minister Ségolène Royal has tweeted to the president to apparently congratulate him on getting engaged.
“Congratulations to président OBAMA for his engagement before Paris #COP21,” she wrote on Twitter earlier this month, referring to the climate summit to be held in Paris later this year.
At a first glance, you'd be forgiven for thinking she was suggesting that the president had just got engaged – even though he has been married to Michelle Obama since October 1992.
But, after the first sentence she added (verbatim):
“French parlement adopted transition energetique bill.”
Confused? Join the club. Royal herself deleted the tweet soon after posting it, composing a new tweet soon after with the word “engagement” replaced by “commitment”. The rest remained unchanged.
On Sunday night, the minister finally spoke out about the mystery tweets.
Speaking during an interview with iTele, the minister explained that the word “engagement” has both a political and romantic meaning in English.
“So, yes, it has lots of meanings. But in French, too, words can sometimes have lots of meanings,” she said with a laugh.
And she is right. The word engagement certainly could be used in this context. As for the second half of the tweet, the random capitalization of Obama, and the Franglais… she gave no explanation.
Royal also admitted to deleting the embarrassing tweet when it started to “buzz” on the internet.
“I’m quite quick, so I know what’s going on,” she added.
It's either back to the books for Royal when it comes to tweeting in English, or perhaps time she changed her phone settings from French to English when tweeting to the US president.
As for the president himself, he is yet to respond to the tweet.