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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: Que dalle!

French people use it all the time and it's one of those snappy expressions that shows you've cracked it when it comes to speaking like a local. Plus its origin is pretty unusual.

French Expression of the Day: Que dalle!
Photo: Depositphotos
Why do I need to know que dalle?
 
You'll hear it all the time and unless you know what it means, it could be very confusing as the expression has nothing to do with the French word dalle meaning 'slab' (as in a slab of stone).
 
But once you know what que dalle means, you'll find using it very straightforward and it's an easy way to make your spoken French sound native.
 
What does it mean?
 
Que dalle is a French noun meaning 'nothing', 'very little' or 'not very much'. You can use it literally to mean 'nothing' or 'none', or in a more figurative way to mean a very small amount of something as in 'pittance' or 'peanuts'.
 
For example:
 
Qu'est-ce que tu as fais ce weekend? Que dalle. – 'What did you do this weekend? Nothing.'
 
Quelles sont tes perspectives de boulot? Que dalle. – 'What are your job prospects? I have none.'
 
Combien as couté ton repas? Que dalle. – 'How much did your meal cost? Peanuts.'
 
Where does it come from?
 
Que dalle has interesting origins. The expression is widely thought to come from the romani (the language spoken by Roma people) word 'dail' meaning nothing at all.
 
Surprisingly, a few dozen romani words have weaved their way into French slang, but out of them all, que dalle is by far the most commonly used. 
 
Some more examples:
 
Ton travail est bien payé? Non, que dalle – 'Is your work well paid? No, it pays very little.'
 
J'ai compris que dalle à son discours! – 'I didn't understand anything about his speech!'
 
Elles s'attendaient à un gros changement, mais finalement, il n'y a eu que dalle.  – 'They were expecting a big change, but in the end, nothing happened.'
 
For more French Expressions and French Words of the Day you can CLICK HERE to see our full list.
 

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: Avoir l’estomac dans les talons

A sensation you might feel around midi after skipping your morning croissant.

French Expression of the Day: Avoir l'estomac dans les talons

Why do I need to know avoir l’estomac dans les talons?

Because you might want to inform your friend waiting in the long restaurant line with you about just how hungry you actually are.

What does it mean?

Avoir l’estomac dans les talons usually pronounced ah-vwar leh-sto-mack dahn lay tah-lonn – literally means to have the stomach in the heels, but it really just means that you are extremely hungry. A British-English equivalent might be ‘my stomach thinks my throat’s been cut’.

As with saying ‘I’m starving’ you wouldn’t use this to talk about people who are genuinely at risk of starvation, it’s just a phrase to complain about being hungry and wanting something to eat.

The expression probably originated around the end of the 19th century, and there are a couple of different ideas about how it came to be.

The first is that it’s intended to paint a picture of your stomach narrowing so much that it goes all the way down to your heels. The second idea proposes that since ‘les talons’ (heels) is a homonym with ‘l’étalon’ (stallion), the phrase might actually be referring to horse meat. You might be so hungry that the only thing that could possibly satiate your empty stomach is a hearty portion of horse meat.

Finally, there’s simply the idea that a person walking a long distance would have severe pain in his heels (or feet), and his hunger is so intense that it is as bad as the pain from walking a long distance.

Regardless of where it comes from, this expression is a sure-fire way to communicate your need for nourishment (or perhaps a nice helping of horse).

 Use it like this

Je ne peux pas attendre plus longtemps dans cette longue file, j’ai l’estomac dans les talons. – I cannot wait in this long line much longer, I’m starving.

Je n’ai pas mangé le déjeuner hier et à 17h, j’avais l’estomac dans les talons. Tout le monde dans le bureau pouvait entendre mon estomac faire du bruit ! – I skipped lunch yesterday and by 5pm I was starving! Everyone in the office could hear my stomach making noise.

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