Say “Ouistiti!” for the camera!

Charles Timoney gives the would-be traveller in France some sage advice in his,  Pardon my French: Unleash your Inner Gaul published in 2008.  Excerpted below is one of his finds:

Should you ever be asked by a French person to take their photo in front of some famous monument somewhere, there is no point in pointing their camera at them and saying brightly, “Say cheese!”  For a start, if you stand in front of a mirror and say cheese with a silly French accent, it will not produce the photogenic rictus that you were hoping for.  The main problem, however, is that a French tourist will not be expecting to be asked to say “cheese” because in France,when being photographed, people say “ouistiti!”  Like “cheese,” the success of the photograph depends on the accent used when saying the word.  If you sayouitsiti – it means “marmoset,” by the way [a very small monkey from Central & S. America – The D.] – in a flat English accent reminiscent of the cartoon dog Droopy [?], you will look thoroughly miserable in the photo.  If, on the other hand, you say it enthusiastically in a strong French accent, the two last syllables force your mouth sideways into a broad grin.  Just in case you are planning on asking a French person to take your photo one day, there is a slight chance that in place of ouistiti he may let his fondness for things culinary win through and ask you to say “omelette!”

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Provisions en Français

I was ringing groceries, provisions, the other day and had a fantastic little exchange en français.  To resume my French studies, left to decompose after high school, I started with learning how to say the various robot phrases that we, as caissiers and caissières, have to repeat to customers un mille times throughout the day.  I would try one phrase out on a French-speaking customer and then ask them how to say another phrase.  In this manner, my répertoire would grow with each transaction.

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