The benefits of playing the non-native speaker card!

Have you ever had one of those moments where you say something in a foreign language and then realise, by the reaction to your words, that you have made a major blooper?

On a school French exchange several [okay, many!] years ago, I stayed in a lovely household with a mum and dad, two children and a grandma.  One evening, the mother asked me in French if I would prefer to eat dinner in the kitchen or the living room.  Delighted I finally had the chance to use an expression I had picked up in a guide book, which apparently meant I don’t mind, I very proudly stated: ‘Je m’en fous.’  I was rather taken aback to see the grandma’s chin hit the floor and the children collapse in a fit of giggles.  Assuming it was my accent, or some grammatical gaffe, I asked my French teacher the next day why it was such a shocker.  You can imagine my surprise to hear that I had said the French equivalent of ‘I don’t give a f**k.’

The moral of the story? Make sure you refer to a reputable guide book!