My 13-month-old is making me into one very proud Mommy, as she is starting to say her first few words! She has ‘Mama’ and ‘Papa’ down, she is good at saying ‘yep’ and thankfully not so good at saying ‘no’ (though she does shake her head very vehemently to get her point across). But she has utterly proved her French-ness by deciding that her fourth word would be: Oh La La!
Thinking about it, she is being very clever. With just this one word she can express a plethora of emotions. You see, Oh La La in France is a state of mind and it means so much. In little Violette’s case she uses it when she drops something or is not happy with something, she uses it when she is surprised, or when she is given something she likes. It is always linked to a bit of a resignated head shake or alternatively with throwing her hands up in the air — theatrical gestures she must observe a thousand times a day.
Let me give you a few examples for Oh La La. A person accidentally steps on your foot: Oh La La. A person is wearing a weird hat: Oh La La. A person has jumped the queue and gone in front of you? Oh La La. It can also be used in a complimentary way: some dude likes a girl’s cleavage? Oh La La La La!
You can not be French without grasping the importance of Oh La La-ing, so I am very happy that little Violette has embraced her French-ness wholeheartedly.
So this is my main advice for you guys who visit France without having a grasp on the language. Forget about learning to say: “excuse me, what is the way to the train station, please”. Just practice Oh La La in its various forms, and you will be accepted by the natives with no problems at all!