ooh la la / Oh là là !

  • anangelaway

    Senior Member
    French
    Hello Alan!

    I actually do often. I can't explain what does it mean in French really.
    But put into context, perhaps for me an equivalent that comes to my mind right now:
    For instance as in - oh la la, qu'est-ce que tu as fais??? (talking to my cat):D
    ''Noway, what did you do???''
    or
    ''oh la la, c'est pas possible!!!''
    = Noway! It's impossible...!!!!
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    Yes, I do say it quite a lot too ! It's the kind of thing we say without even noticing, so it's hard to determine what we really mean... So here are a few samples to show you how I'd use them :
    Oh là là, il est déjà 18h30, je vais rater mon train !
    Oh là là, j'ai vraiment trop mangé, je ne peux plus me lever...
    Oh là là, mais qu'est-ce qui t'es arrivé ??
    Oh là là, il est trop beau le nouveau !
    Oh là là, qu'est-ce qu'il fait chaud ici !

    My computer's dictionnary offers these translations for "oh là là" : "holy cow!" or "wow!"

    Apparently it is used by more people than just anangelaway and me ;) : you will find a few songs named "oh là là", eg.

    Sacha Distel
    Et mon coeur bat quand je vois oh la la!
    Tous les seins bronzés de Saint-Tropez
    Et mon coeur bat quand je vois oh la la!
    Une jolie fille m'ouvrir les bras

    Joe Dassin
    Je suis au bord du délire, pauvre de moi
    Je n'ai plus qu'une chose à dire, et c'est "Oh là là!"
    C'est: Oh là là! Oh là là! Oh là là! que je l'aime!

    and a few others...
     

    Gil

    Senior Member
    Français, Canada
    anangelaway said:
    Hello Alan!

    I actually do often. I can't explain what does it mean in French really.
    But put into context, perhaps for me an equivalent that comes to my mind right now:
    For instance as in - oh la la, qu'est-ce que tu as fais??? (talking to my cat):D
    ''Noway, what did you do???''
    or
    ''oh la la, c'est pas possible!!!''
    = Noway! It's impossible...!!!!
    Impossible n'est pas français:
    Des nuits d'amour
    Qui durent quarante cinq jours
    Oh la la la
    Mais c'est magnifique !
    :D
    Contexte:
    Luis Mariano
    C'est magnifique

    Paroles: François Lienas. Musique: Cole Porter 1953
    © 1953 Editions Chappell
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    I have heard Francophones use "oh la la" many many times. Usually in a vaguely scandalised tone on hearing gossip or something shocking - and one time when me and a friend were talking (during adverts!!) in a cinema.
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    I use another version to introduce very general / pointless comments, you know, the kind of things you'd imagine two old people sitting on a bench would say :
    Ah là là, c'est pas facile tous les jours, ma brave dame.
    Ah là là, les gens sont vraiment stressés de nos jours.
    Ah là là, rien n'est plus comme avant, c'est sûr.
     

    DDT

    Senior Member
    Italy - Italian
    timpeac said:
    I have heard Francophones use "oh la la" many many times. Usually in a vaguely scandalised tone on hearing gossip or something shocking - and one time when me and a friend were talking (during adverts!!) in a cinema.
    Oh la la lala-lala ! I heard it so many times that I really think of it as a sort of nice/funny way to express wonder/surprise...the Frenchman/woman putting a blame on your friend and you must have confused "oh la la" with "ça va pas, quoi !" :D

    DDT
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    I'm not sure there's an approved spelling, as it is an interjection built with other words. It's written in different ways in the examples provided in the TLFi :

    Oh la la interj. [Marque que le locuteur éprouve un sentiment de compassion envers qqn, qu'il plaint qqn] a) [La plainte ne concerne pas le locuteur] Ainsi, mon squelette date de l'ours des cavernes!... Mais celui des Baoussé-Roussé! Oh! là là! mes enfants! Tout au plus de l'époque du mammouth (G. LEROUX, Parfum, 1908, p.63). Je me ferai dans les seize mille cette année. Jimmy: En tout? Nicole: Ah! oui, naturellement. Jimmy, accablé: Oh! là, là... (BOURDET, Sexe faible, 1931, III, p.442). b) [La plainte concerne le locuteur] _ Ce n'est pas à Monsieur l'abbé Poiré que vous vous confesserez, c'est au Révérend Père Jaxel... _ Père Jaxel!... Jamais de jamais!... Au Père Jaxel!... Oh! la! la! (GYP, Souv. pte fille, 1928, p.296). Alors les gémissements recommencèrent: _ «Oh là là... Oh là là...» Jacques reposa sur le lit le bras qu'il tenait et il s'aperçut que ses doigts y avaient imprimé des marques (MARTIN DU G., Thib., Mort père, 1929, p.1276)
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    Do the French actually say "ooh la la" and mean it? When An English-speaker says it he/she's usually joking.

    And just what does it mean, anyways?

    Alan

    I'd like to point out that agoodeno's "ooh la la" represents the pronunciation which English speakers typically use when making reference to this expression: [ulala]. Not "oh la la" or "ah la la." Sometimes English speakers write this version as "oo la la."

    The version, which is much less often encountered in French than the [o] version, is spelled "ou là là" or "ou la la" in French.
     

    portia1780

    Senior Member
    English (USA)
    Certainly most Americans use the "ooh la la" version - especially popular in advertising to give a "French flair."

    However, my personal favorite is something more like "oh loh loh," which I use ALL the time.
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    The version, which is much less often encountered in French than the [o] version, is spelled "ou là là" or "ou la la" in French.

    Personally I would spell it "ouh là là". :) Same use as "ouh là !" (ie. the person is impressed or worried).
    [...]
     
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    agnes50

    Senior Member
    français France
    oh la la! is not used in the way way as ah la la!

    hard to explain
    in fact i guess i would use: Oh gee! for oh la la!
    but dunno about ah la la...:(
    It often comes with a hand gesture
    ah la la is when you tell a child he did something wrong...for exanple.
    hope it helps(a little...)
     
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