Russian or Nasty?

Every day I seem to learn a new word or meaning in French, and the moment I do I am often struck by a moment of enlightenment. A moment of understanding: of that phrase I heard the baker say yesterday; of that newspaper headline I saw in last month’s Journal or of that graffiti I read on a toilet wall last year.

It’s amazing how long the mind can hold seemingly meaningless words only to translate them months later into something that you can comprehend.

I had one such moment yesterday when I discovered the word ‘rosse’ in a book of French colloquialisms. It means ‘nasty’ or ‘bitch’.

Immediately I realised that I had mis-translated the graffiti I relayed to you in my post of 9th October 2006.

“Russian Slut” was what I had assumed the disgruntled teenager had meant when he (or she) had scrawled “Salope Russe” on the Chanel poster of Kate Moss. “But why do they think she’s Russian?” I kept asking myself afterwards. Had she been covertly recruited by the KGB? It just didn’t make sense.

Then bam – it hit me – they must have written “Salope rosse” not “Salope Russe”.

So our graffiti-ist was trying to say that Kate Moss was either a “Nasty Bitch” a “Bitch Slut” a “Nasty Slut” or a “Bitch Bitch” but most certainly not a “Russian Slut”.

Sleep easy people – she’s not Russian after all!

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