A young French girl did a language exchange course in London. One morning she visited the zoo in Regents Park where she spent some time watching the seals. On returning to the house where she was staying, she asked her friend's father, 'How do you say phoque in English?' To which he replied, 'The same, but it's pronounced more with a U than an O.'

Sent by: Michael


Leslie 2011-10-03

For teaching purposes, and to avoid the obvious problems, I like to answer the 'seal' question with 'loup de mer'.

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Susan, Chickamauga, GA 2009-12-03

A French friend of ours married an American girl in Tacoma, WA. After the wedding, we went on an island boat ride with his parents and hers. We were the translators between the two couples, who didn't speak a word of the others' language. Not only the bride's parents, but everyone on the boat, got quite a shock when the groom's mother spotted some seals off one side of the boat and shouted out loud, "Phoque ! Phoque ! Phoque !"

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Scarlet, Belfast 2009-10-16

I told several classes of 10 years old, on their first French lesson, that Shhh is "Chut" in French. I noticed that two boys in one of the classes were repeating it while giggling and varying the vowel sound, if you know what I mean.

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Chantal, North Ireland 2009-06-10

Someone in my class who already knew French asked how to say seal in French. Suddenly there was an uproar of 32 French students cracking their heads open with laughter.

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Daniel Waite, Wigan 2009-06-03

I thought seal was joint in French? My translator site is getting a spanking after this!

Ed. note: That's a seal as used on pipes.

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Catherine, Lerwick, Shetland, UK 2009-05-19

And when you live in Shetland Islands around seals... the favorite question of pupils is "how do you say seal in French" as I am a French native speaker ...

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diane, france 2009-05-14

French students don't go to the University. They go to the "Fac". It sounds like "phoque" but more with a A than a O. Needless to say that English natives students feel little bit astonished.

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Scott, Louisville, USA 2009-05-13

My 12 year old daughter and I were listening to a Premier Plus story about the ban on seal products in the EU. Boy did her eyes get big!

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Marcus, Vermont 2009-05-12

Our bilingual son enjoyed André le phoque when he was little. One Monday morning he told his pre-school friends that he watched a good "phoque" movie over the weekend... fortunately his teachers were well-educated and understood the slip immediately. Needless to say, he didn't dare even say the word "seal" for a long time...!

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Anonymous 2009-04-20

I got the same experience with that word. :)

It's very intriguing to know that different language have different meaning.

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