parler français comme une vache espagnole

Pedro y La Torre

Senior Member
English (Ireland)
Moderator note: multiple threads merged to create this one

I've read it means "to speak very bad french" but I'm wondering about the origins of such an idiom. Why would one "speak French like a Spanish cow"? :confused:
 
  • Susiee

    Member
    English/England (German/Sometimes Germany)
    It originally was: "parler français comme un basque espagnol", but it was mispronounced, and over time evolved into "vache espagnol".
     

    tobeornottobe

    Member
    Français (France)
    hello everybody,

    I am french and I am doing a work on idiomatic expressions.

    I need to find an english equivalent of "parler français comme une vache espagnole". My only equivalent is "to speak very bad french" but I want something more colourful..

    Thanks in advance:)
     

    AnnaScott

    Member
    France Français
    Oui sauf que l'expression française exacte (qui est depuis longtemps déformé), c'est "parler français comme un basque espagnol". Ce qui semble somme toute plus logique que de faire parler une vache quand on y réfléchit ;-)
     

    alisonp

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    I can only think of something like "to mangle the French language", which isn't very colourful, I'm afraid.
     

    FrançoisXV

    Senior Member
    Français, France
    Hi,
    Just to add this: My grandmother was basque (french side), and when hearing both variations, she always pointed out that the correct expression was: parler français comme un basque l' espagnol, was she wrong ?
     

    Randisi.

    Senior Member
    American English; USA
    Though it is probably too strong of an image for 'parler français comme une vache espagnole', I kind of like 'butchers the language'.

    He really butchers the language when he speaks English.

    'Murders the language' is another possibility.
     

    alisonp

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    I'm not sure that "bastardise" doesn't actually refer to the destruction of the grammar, syntax and so on, rather than just the inability to speak a language well.
     

    alonis

    Senior Member
    Ukrainian, English - Canada
    I need to find an english equivalent of "parler français comme une vache espagnole". My only equivalent is "to speak very bad french" but I want something more colourful..
    To add to an old thread, my French grammar textbook actually contains this phrase and translates it (like Randisi) as to murder French - a great translation, in my opinion :)
     
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    guillaumedemanzac

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England Home Counties
    To add to an old thread, my French grammar textbook actually contains this phrase and translates it (like Randisi) as to murder French - a great translation, in my opinion :)
    Or "to massacre the French Language" in English it would be to speak English like a Glaswegian - keeping the "cow/Basque" reference.
    People from Glasgow and Birmingham massacre/murder the English language.
     

    GEmatt

    Senior Member
    English/BE, Français/CH, Deutsch/CH (rustier & rustier)
    If I want to use this expression about someone but the person (female) in question is in fact Spanish, would this be particularly offensive? Or is it understood that nationality is irrelevant?
     

    Uncle Bob

    Senior Member
    British English
    I think "pidgin English" has come to mean badly spoken English even though was Neomelanesian English.

    I don't know about Spanish ladies but if I were a Glaswegian or a Brummie, which I am not, I wouldn't be too happy with Guillaume's post!
     

    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    (Working-class) Glasweigans speak their own dialect of English which is incomprehensible if you're not familiar with it. I like the sound though, once they speak slowly.
     

    Marie3933

    Senior Member
    français
    My grandmother [...] always pointed out that the correct expression was: parler français comme un basque l' espagnol, was she wrong ? :thumbsup:
    No, c'est en effet l'expression correcte (= parler aussi mal français qu'un Basque parle l'espagnol).
    If I want to use this expression about someone but the person (female) in question is in fact Spanish, would this be particularly offensive? Or is it understood that nationality is irrelevant?
    Si cette personne a une connaissance suffisante de la langue française pour savoir qu'il s'agit d'une locution, elle ne s'en offensera pas (du moins, ne devrait pas ;)) ; mais si elle méconnaît la locution, ay ay ay! :D Les Espagnols sont très susceptibles.
     
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    CarlosRapido

    Senior Member
    français - English (Can)
    Il semble qu'une petite récapitulation s'impose....
    Hi,
    Just to add this: My grandmother was basque (french side), and when hearing both variations, she always pointed out that the correct expression was: parler français comme un basque l' espagnol, was she wrong ?
    Désolé de ramener ce vieux fil, mais il semble que l'hypothèse du 'Basque espagnol' soit quelque peu douteuse... voir ici
    Et cette dernière qui répond aussi à FrançoisXV;
    C'est en effet l'expression correcte (= parler aussi mal français qu'un Basque parle l'espagnol).
    [...]
    Une simple recherche internet démontre assez clairement que l’hypothèse du Basque parlant un espagnol approximatif, bien qu'intéressante, n'est pas avérée;
    [...]Pourtant, selon Alain Rey, la plus probable des origines viendrait d'une combinaison de choses péjoratives propres à l'époque.
    "Comme une vache" était en général, et est toujours, un terme intensif à connotation fortement négative. Et, à la date d'apparition de l'expression, 'espagnol' était également un qualificatif désagréable ; on disait en effet "payer à l'espagnole" pour quelqu'un qui 'payait' en donnant des coups ou on désignait une "fanfaronnade" d'"espagnolade"[...]
    « Jacques Collin parlait le français comme une vache espagnole. » Honoré de Balzac -Splendeurs et misères des courtisanes - Source
    [...]Mais certains pensent que cette locution est une déformation de parler français comme un Basque espagnol, mais celle-ci n’est pas attestée dans les ouvrages anciens.[...] - Source
     
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