petite anglaise

March 12, 2008


Filed under: misc — petiteanglaiseparis @ 4:57 pm

I’m inordinately proud today at having written a piece in French for Rue89 about the sacking and book deal.

The Boy was asked to re-read it before I submitted it to the editors and, to my delight, only moved two commas. He did however mutter something about the length of my sentences (very British, apparently).

It was an enjoyable experience – I don’t get nearly enough opportunity to write in French these days – but it has convinced me that I’ll leave translating “petite” into French to the experts.


  1. > but it has convinced me that I’ll leave
    > translating “petite” into French to the experts.

    Thanks a lot. I’ be completely fu^h^h lost with this lovely blog in french, as my vocabulary in French consists only of drink and food. ;-)

    Glad to remain an avid reader…


    Comment by sparta644 — March 12, 2008 @ 5:56 pm

  2. You have become quite a celebrity! I listened to the Women’s Hour interview and thought you sounded very used to the medium. Must buy the book!


    Comment by Nick — March 12, 2008 @ 6:12 pm

  3. What about the length of our sentences? Are they long or short? The blogs I read in French tend to be very long & prosy…

    Comment by Moses — March 12, 2008 @ 6:17 pm

  4. Hi petite, looked at the French piece in Rue 89. Could understand some of it but not all of it… Was in Paris yesterday with my daughter for a day of bonding and “shopping” courtesy of the Eurostar (ended up buying a souvenir mug and that was it!). I thought of you as we sipped coffee in the Champs Elysee (at £4 a cup – what a rip off) and wondered if you are adjusting successfully to your new status. What a whirlwind of activity you’ve had the last few weeks with more to come no doubt. I can’t wait for your novel to come out – I finished “Petite Anglaise” last week; thoroughly enjoying it. All the best.

    Comment by Jane S — March 12, 2008 @ 6:41 pm

  5. Loved your dress on Breakfast.You always look so chic.

    Almost finished your book,won’t know what to read then…hurry up with your next one!

    Comment by lex — March 12, 2008 @ 7:07 pm

  6. Hey ‘petite’, been reading about you in NZ from (almost) the start but only commented now you are “all growed up” as my Nan used to say. Anyway well done and keep us abreast of your life, post book, as many writers will know all about second book syndrome!

    Comment by Adam — March 12, 2008 @ 8:14 pm

  7. Sentences too long or too short for the French taste?

    Comment by clarissa — March 12, 2008 @ 8:20 pm

  8. J’ai justement découvert votre blog avec ce papier sur Rue89 publié cette après-midi et je l’ai vraiment beaucoup aimé ! So… “british” ? :)
    Continuez bien et votre histoire montre vraiment bien qu’un malheur n’en est finalement pas toujours un !

    Comment by Romain Brun — March 12, 2008 @ 8:28 pm

  9. Need a translation–Une affaire des moeurs–a sex case??? or an affair of manners, customs?? and is this slang? Any help much appreciated–ta in advance :-)

    Beau in Seattle

    Comment by Beau — March 12, 2008 @ 9:31 pm

  10. Impressive! It takes me ages to write in French and I usually need MS word to help with the accents.

    Comment by A Seattleite in Paris — March 12, 2008 @ 9:50 pm

  11. To Beau in Seattle – qui a une grosse tête (you are big-headed or I suppose possible gorgeous only a photo will prove that).
    Moeurs can also translate as morals but as the French have very few I wouldn’t bother too much about it. The Swiss on the other hand are incredibly straight but unfortunately lack the charm of the French so one can rarely be bothered to put them to the test. La petite suissesse at

    Comment by — March 12, 2008 @ 10:38 pm

  12. So has The Boy finished reading The Book yet?
    His verdict? :)

    Comment by happyforyou — March 12, 2008 @ 11:16 pm

  13. Wise move re translation. BTW I just read on Jonny’s blog that he signed something with regard to your book. Please tell me one doesn’t have to get permission from everyone one mentions. If so I’m in deep ordue:(

    Comment by Pat — March 13, 2008 @ 1:04 am

  14. Hello,

    It’s very strange, that reading your blog makes me feel like I personally know you. In reality the blog is only a small part of your life and a small part of who you really are. You’ve made me laugh and cry a little with the insights into your world. The world is really small after all. We all have the same ups and downs in everyday life. Life is good now, enjoy it. Best Wishes, Z

    Comment by Zooey Cote — March 13, 2008 @ 1:13 am

  15. Petite! Congrats on being one of the world’s 50 most powerful blogs.

    Comment by Victoria — March 13, 2008 @ 4:29 am

  16. I am glad you say this,for me the same happens with the english, the mother tongue always wins when I have to make jokes otherwise there are quite a few words that comes my mind regularly and I have to find in the dictionary the equivalent in Greek language

    Comment by penelope — March 13, 2008 @ 10:15 am

  17. Well The Boy obviously missed at least one mistake…
    hummm… “j’ai été convoquEE”…as YOU are a female, right ? :)

    Comment by Spiroo — March 13, 2008 @ 11:13 am

  18. I have been thinking about the translation of “Petite Anglaise”. I live in the french-speaking part of Switzerland in Geneva and here it would definitely be condescending to use it to anyone aged over 20 years. But we do it in English too. I was once referred to as “a nice little cook”…inferring that in fact I was not very good at all. It’s a tricky one in French just as gentille doesn’t ALWAYS mean kind/nice (it can also mean stupid/dimwitted/dumb). La Petite Anglaise… there is a term of endearment in there somewhere I suppose the bottom line is it depends who is saying it. If it is a friend, that’s fine like saying ma chérie if an elderly matron type then je ne suis pas d’accord!
    The French can be a snooty bunch towards us Brits and sometimes the inferments, subtle jibes and downright insults can be a minefield to navigate just remember a raised finger in the pocket does the job and no-one is the wiser. Vive la France!

    Comment by — March 13, 2008 @ 11:38 am

  19. Mutterings, schmutterings.

    Like you I speak French, but have always found it easier to express myself politely in German. The way somone expresses themselves is heavily influenced by their cultural heritage – something often lost on monoglots. So if you want to wind The Boy up some, you could attach the following to the next shopping list/mot doux you send him :

    Cher The Boy
    Quoique je vous adore, et vous auriez dû vous en aperçevoir de ce fait, surtout depuis la discourse que vous entamâtes avec Tadpole lors de la visite chez le fournisseur de restauration rapide d’origine d’outre-atlantique, il faudriait que je vous prévienne que la brièveté , la concision , voir même le laconsime avec lesquels j’exerce le choix, qu’il soit approprié ou non, de formuler les notions philosophiques abstractes, provenant de mon propre esprit, et de transformer ces dits conceptions en forme manuscrite, démeure une choix personnelle et que cela constitue une partie intégrale de mon être, que la façon et manière dans lesquelle j’exprime ces pensées fasse équivalence à une extériorisation de mon âme, bref, de mon caractère en tant d’individu unique, personnage que vous déclarez aimer d’ailleurs, voir référence ci-dessus à la conversation avec ma progéniture, sans citer un entretien précédent qui eut lieu sous des conditions moins fréquentés, rentrant plus dans le sphère privé, autrement dit dans l’intimité, et que cette façon de transmettre mes idées est fortement liée à la manière dans laquelle le sousconscient se transfore en idée concrète, un processus qui nacquit, se forme et se développe depuis mon patrimoine historique et personel et culturel, et que si j’eusse subi le destin d’être né en France, soit ce une chance ou un malheur selon son perspective personnel, ayant pousuivi le parcours scolaire dans l’héxagone, il se démontrerait fortement probable que je choisisse de formuler mes pensées, simples qu’elles soient, en phrases longues et compliqués, en y rajoutant tant d’ornaments et d’enjolivements que possible, sans biensûr rendant le tout incompréhensible; néanmoins j’ai le malheur, ou la bonne chance, à vous de choisir, d’être ressortisante d’une autre culture, britannique pour y ajouter de la précision, donc mon passé, et au niveau culturel, les rosbifs ayant une tendance prononcée vers la franchise, quoique parfois perfides, et au plan éducatif, ou l’on aprend que la précision et la clarté soient survalues, malgré que cela soit au dépit d’un certain style, d’un certain je ne sais quoi, consisémment à la floraison , a contribué en grand partie à former la personne que je suis devenue, et que vous appellerez dorénavant mon épouse, et que si jamais le monde dans lequel on vit actuellement s’inverserait, et l’on se retrouve domicilés dans mon pays d’origine, j’éspère fortément que je feriais mon mieux de vous consoler lorsque le rédacteur s’est acharné sur votre oeuvre avec son crayon bleu, et que toutes ces coupures de mots soi-disant superflues, ces blessures à l’expression de l’âme francophone, ne soient pas visés commes blessures à votre personne, ni morale ni physique, et que – – –

    Have had enough now, as am sure have you ;-)

    English translation:
    I write like how I think, like how I am, so like it or lump it!

    (Page stopped loading halfway through submission, and as I wasn’t prepared to type that lot out twice, apologies if this shows up in duplicate.)

    Comment by j — March 13, 2008 @ 11:43 am

  20. So – did you send a copy of your book to your ex-boss? And what did you write?

    Comment by Karen — March 13, 2008 @ 12:11 pm

  21. I have bought your book and am reading it now, and really enjoying it too. But now I have to ask. Is your blogname pronounced “petty onglaise”? Or have I got that so wrong?

    Comment by PeterG — March 13, 2008 @ 12:12 pm

  22. This is a great read! Although it is rather funny for a native french speaker to comment on sentence lengths…whilst studying for my degree i was always amazed at how long winded academic writers would be in french – it is completely unnecessary!! Its always interesting to read french written by native english speakers … even when the french is completely perfect like the above there is still an air of englishness found in the choice of words which I adore!! Bien fait!

    Comment by A — March 13, 2008 @ 1:43 pm

  23. as one of the world’s most powerful bloggers do you feel that commas should be moved around at will by loved ones?

    Comment by The Agent — March 13, 2008 @ 2:37 pm

  24. Watch them try to call you a slapper now!

    Comment by Damian — March 13, 2008 @ 3:07 pm

  25. This stuff is all fab and I’m really pleased for you.



    I miss Tadpoles songs! Is she taking requests? What’s her favourite song at the moment?

    I’m raising bi-lingual kids too and this element of your blog really tickles me. :-)

    Comment by Jacqueline — March 13, 2008 @ 3:08 pm

  26. I just finished your book and loved it….I’m looking forward to your second one!

    Comment by cheri — March 13, 2008 @ 3:30 pm

  27. Jeeze is ‘J’ at a loose end?

    Comment by Alice Band — March 13, 2008 @ 6:42 pm

  28. J – you can try the Amazon post here for a Tadpole fix…

    Comment by petite — March 13, 2008 @ 7:16 pm

  29. #Alice Band

    Blame it on the condescending bourgois gentilhomme who yesterday thought it OK to treat me as thick because I choose to express myself simply and concisely. A couple of imperfect subjunctives later, he was trying, and failing miserably to digest humble pie. Guess I was still fuming this morning and this post touched a raw nerve. Mind you one of the grammatical errors I made, and I’m sure there are many, is not finishing the sentence.

    Comment by j — March 13, 2008 @ 8:37 pm

  30. I love those dresses but wEll when I am buying the shabby big dresses which you wore on your interviews, nobody thinks I am expecting because it is obvious, why I want to wear them (to hide my extra beautiness)(pounds.

    19. no english version for shopping list?

    Comment by pchenge — March 13, 2008 @ 9:25 pm

  31. What a busy life, eh? But such fun to live (and almost more fun to read)!


    Comment by Almost Vegetarian — March 13, 2008 @ 9:33 pm

  32. Just left a review on amazon and stumbled on the amazon blog. Will that be a permanent blog on amazon as well?

    Comment by Iza — March 14, 2008 @ 12:13 am

  33. Hi Petite,

    I read the rue89 article but for some reason I did not enjoy it the same way as I normally like to read your blog. I could not put my finger on it but from the first sentence there was something that felt wrong – for some reason the style did not seem fluid and witty as is your usual.

    It’s only later that I saw today’s posting and noticed that the rue89 thing had been in french. I guess that explains it – but now I’m wondering whether it’s you being a much better writer in your native language, or if it’s just my personal preferences biasing me…

    Comment by walken — March 14, 2008 @ 3:53 am

  34. Fabulous stuff! I KNEW you were only doing all that publicity so your Tadpole could see you stuck onto the newspaper!

    I think I’m going to start blurbing aspects of my life in my head; for amusement purposes only you understand…

    During my first year abroad, I used to write letters home in the style of a ‘Take a Break’ story. Which I only ever read (a)for comedy value (b)because it was
    about 40p.


    Comment by Jacqueline — March 14, 2008 @ 9:49 am

  35. PeterG it’s per-teet onglaise (although it is not really an “o” but an “a” so a more open sound…) Anyway, petite, loved the article in Rue89, and I didn’t pick up the grammatical error pointed out my someone else, so don’t worry! As for 19, well that is exactly how the French like writing – I gave up half way through like the computer did.

    Comment by Jen — March 14, 2008 @ 4:40 pm

  36. Long sentences? Has anyone read Proust lately? Probably not. Petite, you are in good company!

    I am really savoring your book. I’m not far into it, because it is a luscious bit to treasure, not a page-turner to get one through a long trip or a beach vacation.

    I intend to read your book in British, American, and French, not to look for translation mishaps, which are bound to happen, but just for the different flavors of language.

    Having said all that, I read your Rue 89 article, and I have to say, it sounded, well, like Catherine! Is that the English turn of phrase, or just your voice? I’m going with it being your voice.



    Comment by PJ Carz — March 16, 2008 @ 12:51 am

  37. Thank you for the help, Jen. I have been reading Petites blog for a bit under two years now, (the shortcut is dated 28 August 2006) and it occurred to me only now that I might not have the name correct.

    I am reading the book now, and while I am thoroughly enjoying it, I am also feeling a little like a voyeur, because the writing is so…so intimate, I think. Does anybody else reading the book think that is the right expression?

    Comment by PeterG — March 18, 2008 @ 9:55 pm

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