No French Pirates

When I first moved to Canada from the UK, I knew there were going to be differences.  Especially in the language department.  I knew that Ts would be pronounced as Ds, I’d be going to the washroom instead of the loo, and I’d have to end my relationship with the letter U.  But it’s been nine and a half years, and I’m now pretty much certified to communicate. 

It was only recently that I’ve started picking up little bits of French here and there (I know, I’m from a country where this came second to God Save the Queen as the national anthem) – I’m marrying into an extensively French-speaking family, so it’s only natural I’m going to pick things up here and there.  I can understand what’s being said at the dinner table, and I can usually read outdoor signage, but though I can’t yet speak the language, I did notice something rather conspicuous  this weekend on a packet of biscuits:

I’d bought these to dunk in my tea, not just for the lovely melted chocolate, but in a day and age where women’s hearts skip a beat at the thought of Johnny Depp in dreadlocks and a bandana, you can’t deny the power of a wonderfully nautical name. 

But then there was the French side.

I double checked with Sweet.  “Mr. Christie’s small chocolate pieces?” He nodded.  “But what about the pirates?”

I learned in school that there was no French word for breakfast;  it was “small lunch”.  There was no word for weatherman, and, as George Dubya taught us, there was definitely no French word for “entrepreneur”.  If they needed the words, they’d just use the English ones, preceding them with “le”.  But this weekend, I learned that there was no French word for “Ahoy”.  They hadn’t even Franglicised it.  And Mr. Christie had a silly sounding product indeed. 

He did borrow something off the English, though. 

That’s right – Mr. Christie may make good cookies, but Mr. Kipling makes exceedingly good cakes.

Sweet and I are this close to booking a trip back to England this summer – he’s never been to Europe, I miss it dreadfully and I’d love for him to be able to meet my nan.  He’s already made a few additions to his vocabulary – he’ll happily call someone a git, and even writes kitchen roll on the shopping list – but I can’t wait to see lollipop ladies, enjoy a 99, and come home and make jackets for tea.


  1. ‘Exceedingly’ fantastic article Ems…I hope you guys can make it over here in the summer. It’ll be awesome to see you and to meet your ‘Sweet’.

    1. A git is kind of like a bastard – you can say it in a friendly way like “lucky bastard” would be “jammy git”, or you can use it in the nasty way too 🙂 Kitchen roll is paper towel!!

  2. Your english slang makes me really happy, and I’m shocked that you can understand the french that they speak at family get togethers! You’re WAY ahead of me!

  3. How neat! I love the name they have for their cookies; so much more fun than ours =) I took French all throughout high school & college but am ashamed to say I think I’ve forgotten most of it.

  4. Ooo, I love English slang. And the accent too. Everything sounds charming when spoken with an English accent.

    Totally didn’t know what a kitchen roll was – thanks for clarifying!!

  5. Fun! I love languages. My mom is from Guatemala where they speak Spanish so I grew up listening to English and (not as much) Spanish. I love the saying that go back and forth. We had a great laugh when my son, Jordan, was a baby still and my mom and aunt were talking about getting Vick’s vapor rub to put on his chest but they squish it all together so it sounds like one word with a Spanish accent…it sounded like “vicksvaporoob”. It was classic. I had to listen to them a few times to figure out what they were saying!!

    I love English people, their accents, and their words and phrases that are different. You’d probably get a kick out of me seeing that I’m from Chicago! French is pretty foreign to me, but we have a really close friend who’s family is French and he has relatives in Canada and sometimes he’ll throw in French words. It’s great fun. My favorite French word is “merde”. It just sounds too pretty to be what it means!

  6. I know!! When we first started dating I’d always get such a kick out of hearing David say anything at all in French, even if it was something like “I’m going to go scrub the bath and I’ll take the rubbish out later”, everything just sounds so elegant and pretty 🙂

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