Wednesday, March 14, 2007


So I have this funny little book from O (who is far too good to me) as a part of my WWI library, and I was reading it recently. It's a cheat sheet of sorts with specific phrases that a medic/corman might use or need in the battlefield, and I was thinking how it would be to go to France (or Belgium) and arbitrarily ask some of these phrases to passersby. I started cracking up at the image of this that was forming in my minds eye, and laughed out loud... while on the throne.

"Où êtes-vous blessé?" (Where are you wounded?)

"Par quoi a-t-il été blessé?" (What wounded him?)

"Avez-vous craché du sang?" (Have you vomited blood?)

"Avez-vous un compartiment de contagieux?" (Have you a compartment for contagious cases?)

"Souffrez-vous beacoup?" (Do you suffer much?)

"Le lit est-l préparé?" (Is the bed ready?)

"Je me fatigue des oeufs" (I am getting tired of eggs)

"A-t-il de bonnes selles?" (Do his bowels move well?)

"Aimez-vous le lait?" (Do you like milk?)

"Cela vous fail-il mal lorsque j'appuie ici?" (Does it hurt when I press down here? [not sure where I'd press for this one...])

"J'amerais savoir s'il n'y a pas eu des aliénés" (I should like to know if there have been any insane among them)

There are also interesting schematics as to how the medics were to handle the evacuation of the wounded- that is, a diagram of the network of medical facilities relative to the line. Mostly the idea of going up to a stranger and tossing off one of these phrases cracks me up, and I'd love to give it a go. That, and I'd like to find an expression similar to "zebronener?" in each language.

For the record- "zebronener?" is a question designed to confuse the listener, and in fact was coined in vulgarity. My old buddy Mike and his brother(?) were walking at the edge of a pond, when the brother spots a fisherman way out on the water in a crummy little boat and shouts to him "Hey! Zebronener?" to which the fisherman shouts back "What?". Again- "Zebronener?!" Fisherman: "what?" Third time: "Zebronener?!" Then the fisherman paused and finally replied "oh yeah- it that way (while pointing)".

Mike and his brother walked on a bit in silence and then Mike finally asked "Zebronener?" and his brother answered "Is it brown in there?"

Invariably, when I say "zebronener?" to someone they get confused. Some tilt their heads like dogs (does that really help with hearing?). It's a gem of a non-word. That and the "zatours?" (best used when motioning or pointing toward some unspecific thing).

Stucco (with Schmoopie): "Zatours?" (motions to her left at nothing in particular)
Schmoopie (looks around to try and figure out what might be ours, then realizes I've pulled this stunt again and glares at me): "Hey!"

Don;t feel badly, she does it to me too. There is something about "zatours" that can't be fully desensitized.


Blogger Hammer said...

As if Franco - American relations aren't bad enough you want to go drop weird phrases on them ;)

9:26 PM  
Blogger Nancy Dancehall said...

These are all questions I ask my overnight party guests in the morning.

9:35 PM  
Blogger Judith said...

fantastic post! I was giggling away like (?) a gibbering eejit reading it in work. BTW if your looking for anything in particular WW1 wise a very good friend of mine owns an antiques millitary shop called yesteryear, drop me a line and I may be able to do something for the ol' collection..

1:58 AM  
Blogger Scott from Oregon said...

I onced mixed up the verb "to be prepared" with the verb "to have the Hershey Squirts" while working in Japan.

1:32 PM  
Blogger Stucco said...

Hammer- Unlike most fokls I run into, I like the French, and wouldn't mind visiting. I hear a lot of chest beating when France is mentioned, and the implication that without us (or US) they'd be speaking German, etc. I reply that without France, we'd be a bitchslapped colony. This isn't to say they are above messing with tho- I mean Jerry Lewis?

Pants- After your parties, people are hard pressed to be verbal in any language...

Judith- WWI is a passion of mine, plese to be making with the hook up?

Scott- "bishy bishy"?

6:23 PM  
Blogger General Catz said...

I love that idea of using made up words. Very clever. I have to remember that.

8:48 AM  

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