What They Say vs. What They Mean

When they say,“Non”, they mean, “Convince me.”

When they say,“We do not take returns”, they mean,“Convince me.”

When they say,“It’s not broken“, they mean,“Convince me.”

When they say, “You need a prescription for that”, they mean,“Convince me.”

When they say,“The restaurant is completely full”, they mean,“Please come up with a better story.”

When they say,“The restaurant is completely full”, they mean,“We already have enough Americans in here.”

When they say,“Do you mind if I smoke?”, they mean,
“Don’t answer ‘yes’, or we’re going to pout and scowl while you try to enjoy your dinner.”

When they say,“It does not exist”, they mean, “It does exists…just not for you.”

When they walk right into you on the street and say nothing, they mean,“I’m Parisian.”

When they say,“I don’t have change”, they mean,“I want a tip.”

When they say,“Do you want directions?” they mean, “I look forward to telling you what to do for the next five minutes.”

When they say, “I’d like the practice my English”, they mean,“For the next 20 minutes, you’ll feel like a complete idiot while I speak perfect English and demonstrate a far better understanding of world affairs than you do.”

When they say,“They’re up on the seventh floor”, they mean,
“They’re right around the corner from where you’re standing.”

When they say,“We don’t have any more”, they mean,“We have lots more, but they’re in the back.”

When they say,“It’s not my fault”, they mean,“It is my fault…but I’m not taking the blame.”

When they say, “That is not possible”, they mean,“Loser.”

When they say, “I am a Socialist”, they mean,“I’m not responsible for picking up my dog’s poop.”

When they say, “You package hasn’t arrived”, they mean, “I’m just about to go on break. Come back and wait in line for 30 minutes again tomorrow.”

When they say, “The fat’s the best part!” , they mean, “I’m under 40.”

When they say, “The cheeses in France are the best in the world”, they mean, “We are indeed a superior culture.”

When they say, “America is culturally-deprived”, they mean,“Please don’t show us Sharon Stone’s vagina again.”

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  • John
    April 24, 2006 4:20am

    Sounds like “someone” needs a little break somewhere warm – outside Continental Europe?! There, there, Pet, be comforted; you should know by now that the Parisians are sadists…

  • Alisa
    April 24, 2006 4:48am

    I can’t breath
    laughing to hard ahhhh

  • April 24, 2006 5:34am

    David, you gave an interesting point of view to understand why Israelis dislike the French (for some Isrealis, French are all the same – where ever they live) It seems there are similarities. Israelis like to argue whether being just right, or because of pure laziness, or trying to set a client up). And above all, consciously or unconsciously we think we’re better and clever than any other else (even if the facts are inverted – don’t worry we’ll argue to convince why we’re right. That’s why every good jewish mother wants her child to be a lawyer or a doctor). In two words A BIG EGO.

  • April 24, 2006 9:49am

    Hang in there, David!

  • April 24, 2006 9:52am

    Hahahaha – brilliant! There is a similar thought that I could add re. owners of pubs in small rural towns in England… when you walk past the big chalkboard sign outside saying “Food served all day” and enter to find each table laid with knives, forks and condiments, then ask at the bar for a menu, the gentleman behind the bar, usually after a meaningful glance and a wink to his one (local) customer, says “We don’t serve food” – what he’s really saying is “we only serve locals. Keep walking, stranger.”

  • April 24, 2006 12:11pm

    Hilarious, David. The things you’ll put up with just so you can live within walking distance of top-notch chocalatiers.

  • holly landry
    April 24, 2006 12:12pm

    heh- thanks for the prep :) but you should do one from the opposite view…US to their tourists…esp in SF, my family always points out when I say 2 blocks its usually 4 blocks over a very large hill….heh…when I say italian- its cal-italian and usually involves vegetables with no heavy sauces….

  • iamchanelle
    April 24, 2006 12:21pm

    i think i will take this guide instead of my French-English dictionary for my first trip to France…


  • Gladys
    April 24, 2006 1:01pm

    hee heee hee. I really like the cultural parts of this blog, I really get a sense of Paree.

  • April 24, 2006 3:18pm

    Wonderful! What about the one…Oh the credit card terminal is not working today…Hmmmm

  • the stuff the dreams are made of
    April 24, 2006 3:51pm

    “The credit card terminal is not working today “works very well in England and when american boys say “is this chair free?”they don’t want the chair they mean “can I sit there next to you and eat with you”and if they ask you “can I help you”just say “no” the last time I said yes I can’t even say what happened
    when they say “I don’t understand your english”it means “come closer i want to try the french kiss” and when english people say”may I ask you a favour”run away they mean “you’re gonna be in trouble”,when they say “you’re rude!”they mean “why do you behave like me?you dirty foreigner!”and when they say “I’m on duty” most of the time they mean”it’s lunch time”

  • Jeff
    April 24, 2006 7:37pm

    Just like Letterman, you saved the best for last. Judging by box office returns, even Americans don’t want to see her taco.

  • April 25, 2006 12:37am

    David, you never fail to crack me up! Oo la la.

  • April 25, 2006 2:55am

    Ahh, you should know by now, Paris is for the Parisiens, they even look down upon the rest of France.
    As a non Frenchy I am every time amazed on the comments the French make in the country side on the Parisiens, they are definitely not the most appreciated species. “Why don’t they stay where they come from”, or “the holidays are over, good they go back to where they belong”

  • Beth
    April 25, 2006 9:53am

    When they say, “Oh, how sad you are leaving us.”, they mean, “Thank god, you’re finally going back to your godforsaken country!”

    Thanks for the laugh, David. After three years living in Dijon, we are headed back to the U.S. Your translations are 100% correct!

  • April 25, 2006 10:00am

    I have to agree with them on that last one. Is that the only way Sharon Stone knows how to make money? And are we really so stupid as to keep paying her for it?

  • April 25, 2006 11:16am

    I’m not stupid… :)

    Great listing David. Wouldn’t be surprised if it travels around the e-World a bit!

  • April 26, 2006 8:11am

    Very funny! To add to your post office one:

    When they say “We can’t put a tracer on a package until it’s been a month since you sent it” they mean “By then hopefully you will have given up and stopped annoying me.”

  • May 1, 2006 3:57pm

    My usual experience with the “I’d like to practice my English” is that I spend 20 minutes listening to someone butcher the English language with awful pronunciation and even worse grammar while meanwhile claiming every third sentence that my asking them to repeat something I didn’t understand is inexplicable because they know they speak fluent and perfectly accented English, they studied it in school, not like “you Americans who never bother to learn other languages”. Funny, I remember foreign language requirements in school… And I can’t answer for Parisian knowledge of world affairs, but my experiences in travelling other parts of France, Italy, Germany, England, Australia, and now throughout South America has shown a fascinatingly large opinion base about world affairs – but almost invariably not grounded in any kind of factual basis. For me the difference has always been, folks from back home in the States are willing to just shrug and say “I don’t know” while folks I meet in other countries seem to feel they have to demonstrate that they have an opinion, even if it’s completely made up about a subject they know nothing about. (All generalizations acknowledged…)

  • kpgallant
    May 5, 2006 1:58am

    Oh David…Methinks you secretly love all the Parisian attitude and interaction..how funny! I’ll take Parisian attitude anyday compared to the disconnected pods Americans have become[especially in SF]with their ear-wires and their cellphones and the latte in a paper cup always in their hands. Eating in a SF restaurant{Chow}tonight, a young man sat next to me at the counter wolfing down his pork chop and playing solitaire oh his cell phone the whole time. How convivial is that? Paris…c’est la vie!! kpgallant

  • Sarah
    May 17, 2006 7:25am

    Thanks for the huge laugh. You have quite a gift with words. I enjoy your blog very much. :)