7 October 2013

Mr. Gilles

Mr. Gilles is a constant companion of mine.

He appears, friendly enough, anytime I introduce myself.

Well, he appears whenever I introduce myself in French:

Bonjour! Je m'appelle Jill.  Ca va?

Get it?

I am Mr. Gilles.

This is what happened when I ordered (very good) sushi the other week.
They took my name explanation very literally.

Jill - the classic simplicity of this name escapes anyone who speaks French...or Spanish...or...well, most languages.  There are so many reasons to love the name Jill and none of them matter if you don't speak English.

For me, the mynameis exchange is complicated.  First, my new acquaintance appears simply confused.  They might wrinkle their brow a bit or try with great difficulty to repeat what I said. Then, they look at me with pity.  Maybe I was trying hard to get out a basic French phrase, but mangled it far past any reasonable explanation?

I used to be shaken beyond repair by this initial verbal scuffle.  Now, I'm ready.  I pronounce my name again.  Slowly.  Jiilll.  And then I say the magic phrase, "C'est comme 'Monsieur Gilles'" (because "Gilles" is almost exclusively a boy name).

The look of relief that spreads across the face of my companion is beautiful.  And utterly predictable.  Mais oui!? Ah! M. Gilles! 

Bien sûr.


  1. I have a friend names Jill who taught English in South Korea... Jill apparently sounds exactly like the Korean word for vagina! She quickly became Ms. Alexis, a made up name to avoid saying Jill to a room of 6th graders.

  2. When I introduce myself in French, Je m'appelle Megane, I almost always have someone respond with "comme la voiture." uh, yeah, I guess. At first it threw me off, but then I just laughed it off.
    Several years ago when I was teaching there, Renault had a special edition, and it was L'annee de Megane so that was pretty fun!!

  3. I can relate.

    My name is Lea, pronounced like "Lee." The Spanish and French speakers I've encountered have been baffled by it. A guy I met in Mexico asked me I was Japanese. A lot of the Spanish and French speaking people I've known have just called me what sounds like "Lay - ah," like the Star Wars princess. I like it!


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