Monday, 14 September 2009

Fun with French – oh la la

Oh la la !

Yes, French people really do use this most stereotyped of French phrases. It has been a little bit Anglicised for use as an expression of delight or childlike wonder, and indeed, French people will use it to indicate they are impressed. However, it is used more often in France to indicate your disquiet at a situation, to express your dismay or even a certain horror. When used this way it is appropriate to accompany the words with a loose, spread-fingered shaking of the hand in a vertical plane.

oh la la indeed...
A statue in St Pierre-de-Maillé
It is important to use an upward inflection on the final la if you wish to convey delight and conversely, a downward when your meaning is one of dismay.
And in France it is always oh or ah not 'ooh' at the beginning.
What I haven't worked out is if it should be or la. I think it is oh la la (which, oddly, would be 'oh the the') not oh là là (which would be 'oh there there').

Susan

4 comments:

Jean said...

Oh la la la la la la, it's our post lady (without her helmet).

Simon said...

Really? She must get breezy on her bike..

Jean said...

Made of tough stuff, les dames de la poste. Our is fearsome.

Jean said...

I think I meant fearless. On second thoughts, definitely fearsome. And fearless. Terrifying in fact.