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French phrase of the day: Et patati et patata

French phrase of the day: Et patati et patata
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
It sounds like nonsense, and that’s sort of the point.

Why do I need to know et patati et patata?

Because sometimes people go on and on without saying anything new.

What does it mean?

Et patati et patata is the onomatopoeic phrase the French use to mimic banal chit chat that never seems to end. It’s the equivalent of “blah blah blah” – the sound you hear when you’ve stopped paying attention to the conversation.

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It’s an informal term for when you’ve started listing things someone has said, but the rest of their comments no longer interest you. Maybe because they’re constantly giving you new orders, or it could be a politician who’s talking a lot without saying much.

Take for example this tweet from the founder of a fact-checking website.

He parodies people who complain that “Ils sont méchants les fact-checkers…gna gna gna…et patati et patata. On ne peut plus désinformer tranquillement maintenant” (Fact-checkers are mean… blah blah blah… yad yada yada. We can’t misinform people in peace any more.)

It comes with the added bonus of including gna gna gna, which is itself a synonym of et patati et patata, but which sounds even more whiny because of its nasal sound. The sarcastic tone is, if not a prerequisite, at least a very common accessory when using the expression.

The term blabla does exist in French, but it’s more commonly used as a noun, as in, C’est du blabla – It’s a load of waffle.

Use it like this

Il a dit qu’il était désolé et patati et patata – He said he was sorry and so on and so forth

Tu dis toujours que tu peux pas venir, que tu es fatigué, et patati et patata – You’re always saying you can’t come, that you’re tired, yada yada yada


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