Saturday 22 September 2018

Lost in translation? Macron calls leader's wife 'delicious'

Emmanuel Macron with Lucy Turnbull in Sydney. Photo: AFP/Getty
Emmanuel Macron with Lucy Turnbull in Sydney. Photo: AFP/Getty

Henry Samuel

Emmanuel Macron has raised eyebrows during his visit to Australia by calling Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's wife Lucy "delicious".

At the end of a joint news conference between the two leaders, the 40-year-old French president turned to thank Mr Turnbull for his hospitality.

"I want to thank you for your welcome," he said, before adding: "Thank you and your delicious wife for your warm welcome."

Mr Macron's choice of words prompted instant mirth on social media, amid some confusion over his intent. The jury appears to be out over whether it was a deliberate play on words or a linguistic slip-up. Despite his deadpan delivery, some felt the French leader may have been making a joke.

Mr Turnbull had just mentioned Mr Macron's imminent lunch with members of Sydney's French community, and had followed with comments about French gastronomy and wine.

Pardoning generalisations about the French obsession with food, Mr Macron minutes earlier had also been talking about prawns, picking up on Mr Turnbull's comment relating to China's growing influence in the South Pacific, when the Australian leader said: "Big fish cannot eat little fish, and little fish cannot eat shrimp."

Others suggested Mr Macron, who prides himself on speaking fluent English, simply fell foul of a "false friend". The French word for delicious - délicieux - can also translate as delightful.

The more mischievous may have even considered Mr Macron's comment to possibly be a tongue-in-cheek reference to Donald Trump's visit to Paris last year, when he was caught telling Mr Macron's wife Brigitte she was "in such great shape", before looking to her husband and saying, "Beautiful."

The moment made headlines in Australia as a somewhat comedic ending to a serious news conference focusing on violent May Day protests in Paris, the Iran nuclear deal and China's growing influence.

If it was a linguistic slip, Mr Macron is by no means the first leader to experience translation problems. Arguably the most infamous gaffe was John F Kennedy's claim: "Ich bin ein Berliner", which could mean "I'm a Berliner" or "I'm a doughnut".

In 2009, France's Europe minister Pierre Lellouche branded then UK prime minister David Cameron's pledge to reclaim EU powers "pathetic". The term in French is often translated as "moving", "touching" or "poignant".

Telegraph.co.uk

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