C’est Ironique Sign of the Weeque
Spotted by reader Mary Beth Dietrick
I have decided this week to suspend my usual policy of making fun of bad English on French shop signs and, in the name of equality, make fun of bad French on an American shop sign. This is (or was — the photo dates from 2012) the front door of an allegedly French bakery-eatery at Chicago’s Midway airport.
Francophones are already cringing, but for the sake of readers who don’t read français, here’s a rundown of what’s wrong here:
1) In this context, the use of “les” in “les sandwiches pains” (“the bread sandwiches”) implies that these are the only sandwiches made with bread anywhere on the planet. An unlikely claim.
2) The standard French plural of “sandwich” is the seemingly unpronounceable “sandwichs” (although, to my dismay, I’ve been seeing more and more use of the “e” in recent years).
3) “Pains” (breads) shouldn’t be plural.
4, 5 and 6) Having looked up “spirits” in the dictionary and picked the wrong definition (“esprit” means “spirit,” as in “soul” or “essence”; the word for hard liquor would be “alcools”), the sign painter then spelled it wrong and failed to make it plural.
7) Why isn’t “beer” translated? My guess: the manager surmised (astutely) that while most American wine drinkers would understand “vin,” most beer drinkers would take one look at “bière” and head for the Hooters next door.
8 and 9) “Apéritif” is misspelled and should be plural.
10, 11 and 12) “Fraise friutes” is just weird. I can only hope that it’s supposed to mean “strawberries and other fruits,” in which case “fraise” should be plural, “fruits” should be spelled right, and something should be added to make the phrase comprehensible.
13 and 14) Errors 1 and 2 (but not 3) are repeated in the line about croissant sandwiches.
15) The word for “pastries” would be “pâtisseries.”
Score: 17 words, 15 mistakes. At least their pasteries are made with espirit.
Have you seen a ridiculous sign in Paris? Or anywhere in France? Send me a photo in care of firstname.lastname@example.orgFavorite
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