I have heard the phrase “mon tepee thon” (literally – my tuna teepee) on three separate occasions recently and frankly it left me somewhat baffled. Understandably I tried to make sense of this phrase as best I could, but under the circumstances all my brain could manage was to throw back a series of unanswerable questions:
Are my ears deceiving me? Did he/she really just say something about a tunafish living in a wigwam? What is this obsession the French have for telling the English about their love of Native American homes for endangered fish? Why do they drop it into conversation? Am I supposed to be impressed?
It is no coincidence though that every other Frenchman you meet will probably explain their love for ‘mon tepee thon’ to you at some point, not least because it’s one of Britain’s most famous and successful exports.
Absolutely, but the reason for the linguistic impasse is that the French almost always neglect to pronounce it properly, leaving we foreigners to decipher the true meaning. Even though I now know what they mean, it still takes me a while to correlate the French sounding words with the actual thing.
Mon tepee ton .. mon tepee thon … Ah! You mean Monty Python!?