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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Word of the Day: Bla-bla

This handy little phrase can be either cute or dismissive, depending on how you use it.

French Word of the Day: Bla-bla
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know bla-bla? 

Because we all know someone who loves to waffle on. 

What does it mean? 

Bla-bla, sometimes written blabla and always pronounced blah-blah, has a number of definitions. 

The first is the similar to that used in English. Bla-bla can be used to mean an incoherent rambling of words that don’t really lead anywhere or carry any weight. 

Ce n’est que du bla-bla – It is just nonsense/gibberish 

In a similar vein, the term can be used to talk about lies, deceit or misleading language. 

Préviens-moi quand tu auras fini ton bla-bla – Let me know when you have finished with your bullshit 

Le discours du président n’est rien que du bla-bla – The President’s speech was nothing but lies 

Another use of the term bla-bla, which we don’t really use in English, is to mean chitchat or friendly conversation. 

A number of French supermarkets have introduced blabla caisses, or chitchat checkouts, where shoppers who want to take their time and have a chat with supermarket staff while paying for their goods are free to do so. 

READ MORE French supermarkets open ‘chitchat checkouts’ to counter loneliness

La blabla caisse ralentit la cadence – The chitchat checkout slows down the pace

Ces blabla caisses autorisent les clients à prendre leur temps et faire un brin de causette – These chit chat checkouts allow clients to take their time and have a little conversation 

There is a ride-sharing company in France known as Blablacar. On their profile, drivers describe how chatty they are, with bla meaning not very chatty, bla bla meaning sometimes chatty and blablabla meaning very chatty. 

Synonyms

Bagou – Guff/glibness 

Baratin – Bullshit/claptrap/waffle 

Bavardage – Prattle 

Battage – Hype

Causer – To chat 

Verbiage – Waffle 

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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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