Wednesday, July 19, 2006
If you can say that three times fast with your best Frech accent and you understand what you are saying then you may be ready for writer Raymond Queneau. Doukipudonktan is the first word of Queneau's 1959 book Zazie dans le métro.
Still struggling to pronounce D'où qu'ils puent donc tant? - then perhaps you'd rather hear it than attempt to read it aloud. A year after the book's publication Philippe Noiret, as tonton Gabriel, wonders "Why do they stink so much?" in Louis Malle's film adaptation.
Zazie is essentially about a little girl who simply wants to ride the métro. That's where the simplicity stops though. The bobbed-haired heroine with a toothy grin holds her own with the grown-ups at repartee and gets herself ingeniously in and out of trouble.
For those seeking a playful introduction to nouvelle vague or looking for an amusing jaunt through Paris– follow Malle into Zazie's absurd world. In his film version Zazie outruns the adults and shows off Paris: her grand boulevards, Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, Place de la Concord, la Tour Eiffel and much more. She dodges tonton Gabriel, villians, cars, plates of sauerkraut and even pulls cartoon-style slapstick gags with the finesse of Tom and Jerry. Does she get to ride in the métro? Watch the movie and find out the meaning of grève.
As for me, reading and pronouncing Doukipudonktan is still much easier than D'où qu'ils puent donc tant. C'est la vie d'une débutante en français– moi!
Il parle, je parle - nous parlons:
D'où qu'ils puent donc tant? (trés familier! not polite)
Pourquoi est ce qu'ils sentent aussi mauvais ? (the polite, correct form )
both mean: Why do they stink so much?
tonton (familier), oncle uncle
nouvelle vague French new wave (cinema)
C'est la vie d'une débutante en français– moi!
That's life for a beginner of French– me!
La photo: Sniffing mule en Australie. Octobre 2004