SPRUNG! Knowing when to keep quiet

<nappies or shorts spotted in Annecy, France? >Superdry. When I hear the word ‘superdry’, I think of nappies. Don’t you?

Of course, there’s the clothing company with the same name, and they like sticking their logo on their clothes, as clothing companies do. Thanks to this clothing company, I was sprung. Properly sprung. Here’s how.

Walking in Annecy yesterday, a girl five metres in front was wearing some loose shorts with a massive ‘SUPERDRY’ logo plastered across both cheeks. Their bagginess just added to my nappy thoughts. The shorts themselves were yellow.

I commented in English to my friend: “See, those shorts say to me ‘Look, I haven’t peed my pants’.”

The girl wearing the faux nappies looked around at me then looked away. Her look wasn’t angry. Maybe she hadn’t understood. Maybe it was coincidence that she looked so soon after my comment. But maybe it wasn’t. I just don’t know.

What did occur to me is that it’s all very easy to chat in an alternative language and forget that others around might also understand. Here are a few anecdotes:

  • A French friend in Australia was on a train while two other French girls discussed her clothes and style. When she stood for her stop, she said in French that they weren’t the only two people in the world who spoke French. The two girls were speechless.
  • Swimming in the La Clusaz pool a few years ago, two English women talked loudly about their racy sex lives (far too racy to detail here), giving their partners’ names and listing their favourite sexual acts in the process. I was tempted to ask them for the time when they paused but did another lap instead.

Have you ever been sprung or sprung someone else?

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I'm a technical author, journalist and writer from Australia who has been living in Europe since 2000 and exploring the world from there. My passions are writing, snow sports and travel.

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11 comments on “SPRUNG! Knowing when to keep quiet
  1. Ceri says:

    Ididn’t get caught out myself but caught a poor Frenchie out …
    I was at a gardening fair with my lovely children and my youngest knocked over a pot/sculpture – I told him off, gently in English and told him it didn’t matter but he ought to be more careful.Two Frenchmen on the stand glared at me, one said “no problem, no problem” in English the other turned to him and said, in French: “the stupid mother’s just laughing about it, it’s not surprising she has such badly behaved children!” obviously thinking I didn’t understand a word.

    I turned to him and said in my politest French: “my dear sir, if you don’t want children to touch, it was a rather stupid place to leave your sculpture wasn’t it and if you understood English as well as I understand French you’d realise he’s just been told off for touching it.” I turned on my heel and left him with his mouth hanging open 🙂 yeah!

  2. Wendy says:

    Nice line about understanding there, Ceri. If nothing else, it’s handy to fake ignorance when the cold callers call. I’ve only been caught out by one who offered to speak English after I said with the strongest accent possible that I don’t speak French.

  3. Michelle says:

    I like my anonymity here when out with the kids, the English people on holiday assume I’m French and think I don’t understand what they’re saying. Little do they know!

  4. Joan Fry says:

    Of course you can always use it to your advantage,i.e. complaining about the illegal parking on a particular footpath in your village when you know the French perp sitting next to you speaks English.

    If this works I could make a habit of it.

    I hope you get a lot of posts on this subject.

  5. Well swimming pools seem to bring out stories of people’s sex lives! I was at the pool recently and two young American girls were loudly discussing their love life in the changing room. When it sounded as though it might a lot racier, I said to them, in English, “I think you should know that more people understand English than you think”. They looked abash and changed conversations!

  6. Wendy says:

    Anonymity is good, although I’m afraid I didn’t warn the English speakers that way that you did, Fraussie. That’s very kind of you! Joan, I’m not sure anything can change French parking habits…

  7. In my case, it was probably self-protective rather than kind! Not sure that I really wanted to hear the details about their “studs”!

  8. Oh my goodness – I hate it when this happens, so awkward! I’m always painfully aware of it but recently my Mother was in town with me and asked me loudly about whether or not to tip the waitress in front of her…she gave me such an awkward look! And my fiance and his French friend were in Australia talking to each other in French about two girls on the beach…sizing them up in detail when they turned around and spoke to them in French…nightmare!

  9. Wendy says:

    Ah, Mums are the expert at that, aren’t they? I’ve lost count of the times I’ve said “Mum, they’ll hear you,” and she’s replied with “Oh they can’t hear me,” when they clearly can. Great beach story!

  10. Bex says:

    Not me (I’m far too uni-lingual for that) but a friend of my Mums was on a beach, chatting with her English sister, whilst 2 German Women behind her discussed how disgusting it was that she was strolling around in a swimsuit whilst heavily pregnant.

    Little did they know she was married to a German and completely fluent. Not until she turned around and spoke to them in perfect German anyway.


  11. Wendy says:

    Haha! Brilliant!

About me

Wendy Hollands writer in Annecy, France

I'm an experienced technical writer based in the French Alps. I enjoy learning French language nuances, winter sports and travel. Drop by wendyhollands.com, my other site.

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