La Grammairienne whines again

This morning a lovely reader of the fabulous blog J.Crew Aficionada asked whether anyone had any feedback on the French Dove Classic Tee. This is a blue tee, with a white drawing - quite nice - and some poorly-chosen words in what purports to be French. As the Francophones among you may have imagined, OF COURSE I HAVE COMMENTS!

Rather than grump up Alexis' blog, I will post my comments here. How about INCAPABLES! IMBÉCILES! ANALPHABÈTES!

Once again, the J.Crew French reads as if written by a speaker of English who was just handed a dictionary. A speaker of French, wishing to say something nice about peace, par example, "Peace is everything," or "Peace is all there is," or even "Peace, that's all," would say "La paix, c'est tout." J.Crew designers are based in a very international city, where - trust me, it's not all that difficult to track down a native speaker of French. A literate one.

So as to the shirt, c'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas le français.

Le Grand Fromage has spoken.


  1. I am the JCA blog reader who sought input on the French tee. Being a word nerd and perfectionist, I thank you for your input, and I can now report that I no longer plan to purchase this tee. Alors!

  2. I wish you would come to visit me and help me resurrect all the French I learned in my formative years. It has been shoved into the darkest corners of my mind, yet I can still remember where the silverware belonged in all twelve houses that I have lived. Why is that? Thank you Fred for attempting to keep those louts on the straight and narrow.

  3. haha, I've never have thought that it read like that! Your blog is very interesting and I will be following!

  4. Hi, David, I'm with Sherlock Holmes as to the finiite capacity of the human brain. I was happy to discard calculus in favor of the passé conditionnel, years ago, and I've never looked back.

  5. Hi, Jennifer, welcome, and thank you!

  6. As you say, it wouldn't have been difficult for JC's designer to track down someone to proofread this tee before it hit the presses. Tsk tsk. Merci bien, la Grammairienne.

  7. So much for a cute-looking tee ... now I wish there could be one of you in front of each tattoo parlor where teenagers go in and want words or phrases in languages they don't read permanently inked on to their bodies - "are you sure that's what you think it says?!"

  8. That's what happens when you use Google Translator and don't verify its product.

  9. Hi, Lisa, lots of manufacturers mess up with cute phrases or implausible coats of arms, but generally at a much lower price point. The tees on souvenir stands around the world get a laugh when they feature an Elvis concert that "took place" 15 years after his death, or a non-existent university, but the tee shirt guy doesn't charge JC prices or have JC attitude. Misspellings in tattoos - or the lovely Chinese ideograph that reads "healthy cow" - ouch.

  10. Hi, Rose, wait til GooglemTranslator pronounces the phrases!

  11. I hate to say it but my expectations are low since a few years ago. Being a frequent buyer of Crewcuts tees, recall a cute one printed with a message to teach the little ones something about bees. Almost wrote to Mickey when I saw the use of "it's" for possessive as opposed to a contraction. So how are we going to have proper French when we can't correctly get our own language?

    And did you hear about that city council in England banning apostrophes in street signs because they spent too much time dealing with grammar complaints?

    St Pauls Square indeed!

  12. Hi, TiffanyRose, yes, time for a lot of us to re-read Eats, Shoots, and Leaves!


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