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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French word of the day: bah

It is impossible to go through a day in France without using this very useful and versatile little word. It is the verbal equivalent of a dismissive shrug or hesitant incomprehension.

French word of the day: bah
Photo: Depositphotos

Why do I need to know bah?

Bah will make you sound as French as the French, particularly if you deliver it with your eyebrows raised, your hands turned palms upwards and your mouth formed so that both corners are pointed to the floor. Or with your eyes wide open and an expression of complete perplexity.

What does it mean?

Bah can mean ‘I know everything’ or ‘I know nothing’, it all depends on the delivery and context.

Say it quickly and you can sound dismissively confident. However, you can also say it quickly to sound genuinely surprised. It can also be stretched out to demonstrate just how sceptical and incredulous you are. Or indeed how dubious you are. Everything depends on your facial expression.

How is it pronounced?

Exactly how it looks. Find your inner sheep and baa with the best of them.

Examples

Baaaah oui…. 'But of course, you are a fool for asking this question'. Or 'I think so….' (showing your hesitation)

Bah oui! 'Yes!' (showing the answer is blatantly obvious)

Bah oui? 'Goodness me! Is that really true?'

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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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