Last Wednesday, 20 February to be exact, we went, along with my Belgian friend, to take part in So French So Naughty, for its first session of swearing in French. It’s a shorter workshop than it’s evening of the same theme named “Putain de…” which took place several times last year.
We take a drink, which by the way is included in the ticket price, and enter in an old bank vault adjacent to the main room of the French bar, La Buvette. Atmosphere assured…
As for the flirting workshop, Arnaud is our instructor for this workshop on French swear words. The workshop starts with the diffusion of a clip from one of the Matrix films. The part in which one of the characters speaks of his love of the French language, especially for swearing. In the extract shown, he then swears at length in French before coming back to English and saying that it’s like wiping your arse with silk.
The class then starts with the categories of swear words. There are jurons, blasphemies and swear words. Blasphemies are, of course, words linked to the Church or to religion. Our instructor speaks briefly about Canada and its blasphemous words which are common in the language today, notably the word “Tabarnak” (Quebec’s Cirque Alfonse is currently in Adelaide for the Adelaide Fringe with its show of the same name: Tabarnak).
We learn, or we recall, words or expressions that have a base of “merde” or “putain” or which finish in “asse”. There are several verbs which come from the word “merde”: s’emmerder, merdouiller, desemmerder, merder et merdoyer.
Just as “fuck” in English has many uses, we see the word “putain” does too. We can use it both for problems but also for wonderful things. We learn that “Putain de soirée” can mean both that the night was great or that it was terrible.
Arnaud pays careful attention to explain to his students that when you make reference to family, you are saying insults “from which you cannot come back”. Similarly, insults are a lot stronger when they are directed at women. I find that these rules apply equally in English.
As you would have understood, this is no ordinary class. We laugh a lot in practising the intonations and pronunciations of the words and the expressions. I occasionally felt like we were reliving our childhood when we used to laugh at bad words. We don’t laugh much at swear words in adult life. Sometimes just swearing does you good and to have an hour where you are allowed to do it under the guise of learning/amusement is recommended!
We also learn swear words for daily life, that is swear words that we can use each day. Think of the equivalent of “I’m fed up” or [it] “breaks my balls”. In brief, those which allow you to swear at work without anyone, except if you work with Francophones, knowing any better!
And as for the flirting workshop, Arnaud leads us through the poetry of the lyrics of an amusing song and explains that normally we would have finished So French So Naughty with a singalong. And again, as adults we don’t often get to enjoy singalongs.
It’s Arnaud who leads the workshop. He is a teacher by day and his teaching experience is evident when he explains the meaning of the words, their pronunciation and when to use them. But he is much more than a teacher as he is very amusing and captivating. He could very well do a comedy show and I think that it would do very well. He easily establishes rapport with spectators, which allows him to help timid participants.
It’s a workshop both for those who don’t speak any French and for those who do. You are going to either learn some new words/expressions or laugh a lot at hearing them again. Francophones that were present remarked how much it did them well to be able to swear freely in French!
And so for Matilda Marseillaise’s proverb of the day : “À la Saint Arnaud, je ris, je Ricard je suis!” (Reference to the “coffee” Arnaud sips during the show).
It was a putain de soirée! And you know well in which sense we say that!
Matilda Marseillaise was a guest of Adelaide Fringe.
So French So Naughty continues to present its workshops during Adelaide Fringe. There are only 3 swearing workshops left (these take place on Wednesdays during the Adelaide Fringe, that is 27 February, 6 and 13 March).
Don’t forget you can also take part in the flirting workshop presented by So French So Naughty (which takes place on Saturdays 2 and 16 March).
You can purchase your tickets for So French So Naughty here.
Tickets cost $35 and include a drink at La Buvette where the workshop is taking place.
You can also read our article about 22 shows to see at the Adelaide Fringe here.