Russo’s faux pas

Rico Gagliano Nov 30, 2006
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Russo’s faux pas

Rico Gagliano Nov 30, 2006
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SCOTT JAGOW: This week, Patricia Russo becomes the only American CEO of a blue-chip French company, the telecom firm Alcatel. But the French already have a beef with her: Russo says she won’t be learning their language. In France, that’s kinda like saying you enjoy kicking puppies. We now present The Marketplace Players:

FRENCHMAN: Mademoiselle Russo!

RUSSO: BOHN-jer.

FRENCHMAN: Stop talking. Now, you are here to learn how not to anger ze French, oui? So you can — how do you say? — “Stop kicking your foot inside of your mouth.”

RUSSO: Yes.

FRENCHMAN: Bon. First we do word association. Par example: I say “Jerry Lewis” and you say?

RUSSO: Idiot.

FRENCHMAN: Non! In France you say “genius.”

RUSSO: Why?

FRENCHMAN: Madame, we do not have all week to explain such things! Jerry Lewis?

RUSSO: Genius.

FRENCHMAN: Bon. McDonald’s.

RUSSO: Uh, french fries.

FRENCHMAN: Non — you say “Hell hole.” Iraq?

RUSSO: Quagmire.

FRENCHMAN: Ah! On this we agree. Maginot Line?

RUSSO: World War T–

FRENCHMAN: Non! If someone says “Maginot Line,” you say nothing.

RUSSO: Ah.

FRENCHMAN: Maginot Line.

[ LONG SILENCE ]

FRENCHMAN: Bon! You are a quick pupil. Come back tomorrow, we learn more.

RUSSO: Thank you, Jay-queeze.

FRENCHMAN: Jacques.

RUSSO: Mm. One last thing: How do I say, “I don’t like wine, I’d prefer a Coca-Cola?”

FRENCHMAN: Ah you say. “Pardonnez-moi, je suis un chien Americain. Je ne comprends pas rien.”

[ Translation: Forgive me, I’m an American dog, I don’t understand anything. ]

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