In spite of the determination of my fellow citizen to
prove me that French expressions I mention are dead
long ago (and me too, by the same occasion), here is
yet another interesting one (I'm afraid I heard it at
least once or twice this very week):


What the hell can this mean ? It's hard to explain it
properly. Mainly, it means you agree with your
interlocutor, but then, why not limit oneself to "oui"
or say, "oui-oui" ? Why add "non-non" ? I understand
it somehow like: "yes, it's ok, no, there isn't any
problem" (or: any reticence) + "we understand each

- Now you really had to tell him to behave some other
- Oui oui, non non !
(the meaning of the answer could be: oh yes, surely I
will do, don't worry, it won't go like this for a long
time. Also: I'm well aware of the problem).

They can be variants:
- Now it's Monday morning and Anne-Sophie is ill
again, just as every Monday morning.
- Ah oui oui oui non non maiiiiis...
(Possible translation: Oh yes I noticed it, don't
worry, I know how she does and I share your
reprobation, but it won't last forever, some day
she'll get it)

Do you have something like that in English ?

(NB: Each serie of "oui" or "non" is pronounced on a
slightly descending tone, and the whole is uttered rapidly).

Philippe Caquant

"High thoughts must have high language." (Aristophanes, Frogs)

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