la fifille(fee-fee) noun, feminine
: affectionate term for "my little girl" or "sweetheart"
Petit Larousse (French) definition: fifille = fille, fillette (girl, little girl)
Audio File & Example Sentence:
Listen to my (then 11-year-old) son, Max, pronounce the following sentence:
Viens ici ma fifille! Come here, my girl!
filfille à sa maman = (derogative) mommy's little girl
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE..
by Kristin Espinasse
(Note: the following story was written 3 years ago.)
I had many concerns about acquiring a dog: Who would take it for a walk? Who would make sure there was enough fresh water in its gamelle,* and what about la pillule,* barking, ticks... not to mention who would watch it while we were away?
Strangely, of all my worries, communication wasn't one of them.
"That's a good girl!" I congratulate our puppy, Braise, after she has done her besoins* outside the house (and not on the couch like the last time).
"You are SUCH a good girl!" I repeat, patting her soft head in approval.
"Mom, Braise doesn't understand you!" my 8-year-old says, pointing out the problem: English.
I never thought about our dog being French. I stop to consider Jackie's point. Though I do not agree with my daughter (Braise understands my English... when there's a reward biscuit in my hand), her language comment does remind me of a tip that I have just learned: speak in one-, two-, or three-word commands.
When next I return to the house, I offer our pup a one-syllable English order: "Come!"
But Jackie stands her ground. "Viens!"* she corrects, in French. Our puppy obeys -- only who can say whether it is the French or the English command that worked? Hmmm? Hmmm!
When Braise jumps up on me I react. "Down!" I tell order.
"Koo-shay!"* Jackie insists, over-riding my command.
"Sit!" I continue, determined to educate the dog à ma façon.*
"Assis!"* my daughter counters, with growing concern for our dog's linguistic education. If Jackie has her way, our dog will communicate via French one day.
To my "Shake!" Jackie corrects "Donne la patte!"* and when I say "Good girl!" Jackie feels compelled to translate my flummoxing foreign words: "Bien, fifille!"*
My daughter's concern throws me back in time to when I used to stroll her, as a six-month-old, through the village of St. Maximin. "Are you hungry?" I would say if she cried, or "You seem a little tired." Occasionally a French neighbor would intervene.
"You are not speaking English to your child, are you? The two languages will confuse her!" they cautioned. I remember being taken aback by what I found to be an absurd idea: that the commingling of languages might in some way harm my child, or at least result in mental mayhem.
I listen to the child in question, who is speaking to our puppy in French and to her own mother in English. Instead of letting language tangle in her mind, I'd say she has it wrapped around her Franco-American finger. As for our puppy, she has us all tied around her Provençale paw.
Comments welcome. Please share with us one benefit of being bi-lingual. Can you think of any negatives (or set-backs) to knowing many languages? Do you believe that there is some truth to what those ladies said about confusing a child by teaching the young learner another language? Share your thoughts and experience here.
Today's story was written three years ago. Now, our Braise has puppies of her own. We are much more relaxed about babies, now, and therefore speak in French, English... and sometimes Franglais! (The photo above was also taken by Jacqui McCargar. Thanks Jacqui!)
la pillule (f) = pill, birth control; la gamelle (f) = bowl (for pet); les besoins (mpl, from "faire ses besoins" = to relieve oneself) (for an animal: "to do its business"); viens! = come here!; koo-shay! (pronunciation for "couché!" = (lie) down!; à ma façon = my way; assis! = sit; donne la patte! = give me (your) paw; bien, fifille! = good, little girl!
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