When I was still in England the phrase “Ooh la la” was synonymous with France, along with frog’s legs, strings of onions and berets. It was one of those phrases that I imagined all English speaking people assumed the French uttered every day, along with the great Gallic shrug, but which in reality no longer existed in today’s every day speech. So in today’s “petit morceaux” I decided to put you straight!
Not only do the French utter, alarmingly often “ooh la la”,but now shockingly, so too do I! It has become part of my everyday language! “Ooh la la”, works from expressing slight astonishment to downright outrage. If one is lost for words, there are various expletives of course, such as “merde alors” , but nothing quite tops “oh la la” for linguistic acceptability in any situation whilst registering quite clearly the gravity of the situation.
A friend’s central heating’s broken down – a simple conversational “oh la la” will be perfectly adequate whilst expressing sufficient sympathy, but being the recipient of an ‘arnaque’ or ‘rip-off’ or cheated out of something important, the number of “la’s” will increase exponentially.
As I entered my appartment this evening my salesman neighbour was standing by the side of his car next to a pile of huge boxes, stacked harpazardly on the pavement, talking loudly into his mobile phone, and suddenly he uttered…
“Oh la la la la la la la”
Seven “la’s” – I tell you – I am agog!
If only it wasn’t rude to stand about listening!
A tout à l’heure!