The French have a really particular relationship with cows, a form of entente cordiale the place it’s agreed that in return for milk to make wonderful cheeses, cows get a particular place in French tradition, notably in standard expressions, slang and humour.
French tv commercials for cheese present pampered cows getting massages from the farmer, whereas youngsters’s books present cheeky cows laughing when somebody by accident steps in certainly one of their cowpats.
Even in the event you’re solely starting in French, it is nonetheless a good suggestion to study a couple of expressions which might be generally used within the French language, so let’s take a look at some ones involving the animal that has a particular place in French folks’s coronary heart, the cow.
The French phrase for ‘cow’ is la vache, from Latin vacca. I have never discovered any English phrase associated to it, the Germanic phrase ‘cow’ appears to be enough for us.
Being such a big animal, it has a powerful bladder, so in French you possibly can say il pleut comme vache qui pisse, that means, ‘it is raining like a pissing cow’. It is the French equal of ‘raining cats and canines’.
Not being famous for his or her linguistic skills, nonetheless, cows are additionally talked about in an expression about somebody who speaks a international language badly. Il parle français comme une vache espagnole – ‘he speaks French like a Spanish cow’. If Spanish people have been the victims of this sort of racist stereotyping I dread to assume what the implications can be. Sadly, Spanish cows, not having the ability to string a coherent sentence collectively in French, have by no means been in a position to defend themselves.
French monetary journalists typically discuss with financial downturns as ‘intervals of thin cows’ (vaches maigres). It is a reference to the biblical account of Joseph (of Technicolor dreamcoat fame) who interpreted Pharaoh’s dream about seven fats cows and 7 skinny cows as intervals of prosperity and famine respectively.
There may be, paradoxically, a destructive use of the phrase vache. As an adjective, it means a nasty, disagreable particular person: il est vache – ‘he is nasty’. It solely took one nasty cow to spoil it for all of the others…
Lastly, you possibly can merely say ‘la vache!‘ as a form of exclamation. Say it if you find yourself stunned, shocked or offended. As well as, you possibly can flip it into an adverb – c’est vachement bien means, ‘it is cowingly good’.
So subsequent time you are in France, you’ll apologize to your degree of French, discuss concerning the rain ‘persisting’ down, chat concerning the American financial system and curse your dangerous luck – all by referring to our bovine pals!