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'English is badly pronounced French'

Selected quotes on Franco-British relations from Stephen Clarke's new book, 1,000 Years of Annoying the French

Selected quotes on Franco-British relations from Stephen Clarke's new book, 1,000 Years of Annoying the French

Samuel Johnson (1709-84) –English dictionary writer
“A Frenchman must be always talking, whether he knows anything of the matter or not; an Englishman is content to say nothing when he has nothing to say.”

Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (1732-99) – French writer in his play The Marriage of Figaro
“The English do add here and there some other words when speaking, but it is obvious that ‘God-damn’ is the foundation of their language.”

Horatio Nelson (1758-1805) – British admiral, giving instructions to a new recruit
“Firstly you must always implicitly obey orders, without attempting to form any opinion of your own regarding their propriety. Secondly, you must consider every man your enemy who speaks ill of your king; and thirdly you must hate a Frenchman as you hate the devil.”

Napoléon Bonaparte (1769-1821) – Emperor of France
“It is in the French character to exaggerate, to complain and to distort everything when one is not happy.”

Douglas William Jerrold (1803-57) – British writer
“The best thing I know between France and England is the sea.”

Paul Gavarni (1804-66) – French artist
“When an Englishwoman is dressed, she’s no longer a woman, she is a cathedral.
You don’t seduce her, you demolish her.”

Mark Twain (1835-1910) – American writer
“In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French. I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their language.”

Georges Clemenceau (1841-1929) – French Prime Minister
“English is just badly pronounced French.”

George S. Patton (1885-1945) – American general
“I would rather have a German division in front of me than a French one behind me.”

Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970) – French President
“I have tried to lift France out of the mud. But she will return to her errors and vomitings. I cannot prevent the French from being French.”

Evelyn Waugh (1903-66) – British writer
“We are all American at puberty. We die French.'

Josephine Baker (1906-75) – American dancer
“I like Frenchmen very much, because even when they insult you, they do it so nicely.”

Pierre-Jean Vaillard (1918-88) – French actor
“Now I know why the English prefer tea. I just tasted their coffee.”

Billy Wilder (1906-2002) – Austrian-American film director
“France is a place where the money falls apart in your hands but you can’t tear the toilet paper. (This was before the euro launched and became stronger than the dollar.)

Claude Gagnière (1928-2003) – French writer
“A man who speaks three languages is trilingual. A man who speaks two languages is bilingual. A man who speaks one language is English.”

Edith Cresson (b.1934) – French Prime Minister, angry that men weren’t ogling her on a visit to London
“One in four Englishmen is gay.”

Anonymous French person
“English cooking: if it’s cold, it’s soup. If it’s warm, it’s beer.”

1,000 Years of Annoying the French is published by Bantam Press, priced £16.99

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