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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French expression of the day: Raconter des salades

In France, few things are more rubbish than a salad.

French expression of the day: Raconter des salades
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know raconter des salades?

Because it's a common expression, with a fun backstory.

What does it mean?

Raconter des salades directly translates 'to tell salads'.

However, this expression has nothing to do with diets or healthy eating. Salades here is a metaphor for 'lies'.
 
Quelqu'un qui raconte des salades – someone who is telling salads – is talking rubbish.

 
Why salad? 
 
Experienced salad eaters will know that salads are not exactly French restaurants' strong side.
 
There are of course exceptions – who doesn't love a good salade de chèvre chaud (although admittedly they often consist of more toast with hot cheese than actual salad) – but, in general, French salads are not top notch.
 
So you could be forgiven to think that raconter des salades is a linguistic expression of French culinary skepticism towards leafy greens.
 
Not quite. The expression compares “a salad, or an assortment of ingredients that go well together, to a set of rumours” that, together, “can pass for real” according to online dictionary l'Internaute.

 
Raconter des salades is not about telling just one little lie, it's a bunch of untruths told together.
 
The salad is a mixed bowl of ingredients that go well together and are pleasant to eat (like gossip), but despite the delicious exterior and taste it's actually just a big bowl of rubbish.
 
 
Use it like this
 
Arrête tes salades ! – Stop talking nonsense!
 
Je n'aime pas ce genre des débats politiques, on ne sait jamais si la personne raconte des salades ou pas. – I don't like those kinds of political debates, you never know if what the person is saying is true or not.
 
Vous racontez des salades, madame ? – Are you lying, ma'am? 
 
Je te jure que ce ne sont pas de salades ! C'est exactement comme ça que c'est passé. – I promise I'm not lying,that's exactly how it happened.
 
Synonyms
 
Raconter des histoires – to tell tales
 
Raconter des mensonges – to tell lies

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French phrase of the Day: Ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines

Being patronised by a Frenchman? Roll out this phrase.

French phrase of the Day: Ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines

Why do I need to know ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines?

Because someone might be trying to take you for a fool.

What does it mean?

Ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines – pronounced ne me pren pah pour un lapan de see sem-enn – translates as ‘don’t take me for a six-week-old rabbit’, and is a go-to phrase to warn people not to mistake you for a fool, someone who doesn’t understand what’s going on.

The podcast Hit West from French regional newspaper Ouest-France suggests that the ‘six weeks’ comes from the age a rabbit is weaned at, and must therefore be ready to survive on its own.

And why a rabbit at all? Well no-one really seems very sure. Rabbits don’t get a good rap in the French language though, to stand someone up is poser un lapin in French.

English-language metaphor equivalents may be, “I didn’t come down in the last shower”, “I wasn’t born yesterday”, or, as Line of Duty’s DCI Hastings might say, “I didn’t float up the Lagan in a bubble”.

Use it like this

Honestly, keep it simple. If someone’s speaking to you in a patronising manner, simply say: Ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines.

Ouest France suggests that this is the ‘more elegant’ way to request that people don’t take you for a fool. It’s not offensive, but it might be a little old-fashioned. 

Alternatives

You can use the more basic version of this phrase – Ne me prends pas pour une idiote (don’t take me for a fool) or the slightly more punchy Ne me prends pas pour un con (don’t take me for a moron).

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