Oh là là!

Even if you’ve never paid much attention in French class you are probably in possession of a fair bit of French vocabulary that has crossed over into English: café, croissant, baguette and mayonnaise, to name just a few of life’s essentials. However, for English speakers, even those with no French at all, the most quintessentially French of all French expressions is probably ‘Oh là là!. In English, this exclamation is pressed into service as a slightly jocose response to a situation where there is a hint of suggestiveness or naughtiness. For example, if your granny were to appear at a family bash in a plunging neckline, someone might snigger ‘Oh là là!’, just for a laugh. The literal translation, ‘Oh there there!’, doesn’t really do the job at all.

Mais en français, cette interjection s’emploie pour exprimer l’admiration, la surprise, la déception et beaucoup d’autres émotions. Écoutez ces quatre extraits de l’émission Les Grosses Têtes où Philippe Bouvard et ses invités utilisent ‘Oh là là’ dans différents contextes.

  1. In this first extract, Bouvard is welcoming one of his guests, a well-known actress. What does he say about her? What would an English speaker say in such a situation instead of  ‘Oh là là’?                                                                       
  2. Here, Bouvard is talking about les égoutiers (sewer maintenance workers). What does he say that provokes an ‘Oh là là!’?                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
  3. In the third extract, Bouvard is talking about French judges. What is he saying about them? What provokes the ‘Oh là là’?                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
  4. How do we know that what he’s referring to is ‘très cher’?
  5. In the final extract, what record did the woman set?                                                                                                                               
  6. What was the second stage of her event?

Merci à RTL.

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