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Pardon Their French, part III

French usage in anglophone media can range from “pretty respectable” to “was that supposed to be French?” Last week, part deux focused on a character’s inexplicable French-narrated-while-singing thoughts in the TV show Community; on the first week, part 1 took a look at how French was used in Sherlock Holmes(film, 2009). Today’s follow-up goes right to the most glorious instance of French and Franglais ever used in film: the taunting French knights in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Do I need to set the scene for you? I hope not. You should be thinking of moose- and llama-riddled opening credits, an epic soundtrack, and questions of coconut migration already. But in this post, we’re just dealing with the French.

And what are the French doing in Britain?

Most of the dialogue is not in French at all, but instead an outrageous French accent. However, there’s one fantastic imperative that has (I hope) fooled legions of aspiring francophones:

Fetchez la vache!

Of course, fetcher is not a real French verb, but with all the other cognates floating around, it’s plausible that it would be. I like to think that somewhere out there, there’s been some nerdy kid raised on Monty Python who’s innocently dropped it into an attempted French conversation, only to elicit the same incredulous “Quoi?” as we hear from the other French knights.

 

For the quality of the French usage, 0/5 stars. For the quality of absolutely everything else, this classic is above reproach.

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