Tag Archives: French

It’s a question of… Nutella

It should be forbidden by law to have Nutella in the house. As it isn’t, I installed a personal rule many years ago banning me from buying it – except in case of an emergency. I’m trying to find what critical situation might excuse me having Nutella all over my face this very moment, but have difficulties concentrating:  I’m eating it directly out of the jar with a spoon. And, despite me putting the jar back in the kitchen after every spoonful, I know I’ll continue going back and forth till there’s nothing left.

Maybe I’ve seen too many Nutella commercials lately. You know, the ones with children and how it’s really good for them to eat two slices of white bread with Nutella every morning (as long as they drink a glass of juice at the same time). If it’s good for them, it’s good for me, right? Of course, the enlightened person I am knows about the 1173 calories hidden in the jar I’m about to finish, but I keep reminding myself that Nutella’s mostly a hazelnut spread and that nuts are good for you…

Many French people believe that Nutella is French. When I was younger, I thought it was Austrian because it was always shown beside what I believed to be mountain flowers (I had a long “Sound of music” phase). I’ve just found out that it is in fact Italian (a Mr Pietro Ferrero made the first version in 1946).

I’ve also learnt that it’s sold in over 75 countries across the globe but doesn’t taste the same according to where you buy it. The Italian version has less sugar than the French one, which is softer than the German version, and so on. But apparently, the addictive side of Nutella is common for all.

On the official homepage, it says that Nutella outsells all brands of peanut butter combined worldwide. This I find strange (my own peanut butter consumption taken into account), but believable: the three Nutella fan pages on Facebook have over 5 million members; the biggest peanut butter fan page I could find hardly has 5000.

My jar of Nutella is now empty (and my keyboard sticky). I wonder how many of these I’ve finished off since I was a teenager? Quite a lot – after all, it has always been the first antidote for heartbreaks and despair. I don’t even have that excuse today. But then again, do I really need an excuse to eat Nutella?

 

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Filed under Sounds of the universe

It’s a question of… getting lost in translation

English is not my first language; neither is French for that matter. Even after 25 years in France, I sometimes say funny things – that aren’t supposed to be. Normally this happens when different languages get entwined. When I use a word from one language and transpose it directly to another, or when I translate an expression word by word. Even something simple like “no hard feelings” or “you should take that with a pinch of salt” doesn’t really make sense when said in French. (Not to mention “I was bored stiff” or “I’m going to wet my whistle first”).

I’ve also sometimes had difficulties when the same word has different meanings in the same language. When I first came to a French-speaking country (and hardly understood a word), I was sent to the school doctor for a check-up. She asked me something about “règle” and I gave her my ruler. Had I been using my head I’d probably thought it strange that a doctor would want my ruler. But how was I to know that “règles” also means “period” (yet another word with different meanings!)?

All this to say that I have a big tolerance and a lot of affection for confusion and comical situations that happen when different languages merge or meanings get lost in translation (for example when you use a translator found online). It makes me laugh when I hear stories like the one about Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux using a slogan in an American advertising campaign saying “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux”, or about Parker marketing a ballpoint pen in Mexico with an ad saying “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant” (instead of “and make you embarrassed”).

A few days ago, I found a website where people send in photos of translation mishaps. A lot of them made me laugh out loud. If you need to smile a little (and who doesn’t?) – the link is here.

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Filed under Speak and spell