Thursday, February 10, 2011

Shrimp Girls, or Lessons in Love

Some delicious looking tarts from a patisserie in Aix-en-Provence last weekend
          I love the lesson I tried with my students today. Because Valentine's Day is approaching, the theme was relationships, and they soon learned how to dump someone, how to use a pick up line, and how to ask someone out in English. While covering the basics like the difference between "like" and "love," or a double date vs a blind date, we also ventured into more informal territory like the concept of a "butter face" (as in "Her body was fantastic, but her face..."). I recently learned the French equivalent of a butter face, which far surpasses the English version, because the French version rhymes: "Elle est comme un crevette; tout est bon, sauf la tête." (She's like a shrimp; everything is good, except the head.) Slowly but surely, their vocabulary was enriched with womanizer, heart-breaker, knock-out, bros before hos, make out, creeper, and many other gems that real American people say all the time. 
          But the best part? The best part was separating them into groups, and having them create a dialogue based on the new words. My favorite was between two guys, but you have to imagine every phrase spoken with a thick French accent to get the full effect:

          "Let us just be friends, loser."
          "Well, I 'ad an affair with your best friend."
          "Go away, butter face. I 'ave 'ad enough."

          These kids are natural actors. I appreciate their talent. 

       I decided that unfortunately, phrases like "friends with benefits" were too risqué for the classroom environment, no matter how much I wanted to equip my students with the ability to navigate any romantic or sexual situation, should they ever find themselves abroad. But I was reminded of the fact that they have no equivalent phrase in French, and may be less inclined to understand that one in particular. For example, "No Strings Attached," the comedy starring Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher, was rechristened this nugget of gold: 
Subtle, classy, to the point.

Another one of my personal favorites, for "Step Up, 3-D":

I think they really cut to the essence of the thing, don't you?


  1. Hahahaha LOVE the image of two French teenagers having that conversation. "Let us just be friends, loser" - too good.

    The shrimp expression is so interesting - I guess Americans just go to butter because we like food? I still like the American one more, only because it plays on the actual words better imo.

    and those last posters are very strange. The ad for "No Strings Attached" near my office had the tagline "Can Sex Friends Stay Best Friends?" so no one is being subtle about it, but that's still VERY blunt (haha blunt).

  2. its *but* *her* in everything *but* *her* face....abrev. often as butter :)

  3. LOL I told my boyfriend about the butter face equivalent and he laughed so hard. Good one. Lurve your new blog BTW.