Humor of Talkin Frenchy

Humor of Talkin’ Frenchy is adapted from an historical novel set in 1778 and titled Long Knife, by James Alexander Thom.

It describes the surrender of a French outpost in the Illinois country to a fighting force from Virginia and Kentucky.

One of the rough soldiers is speaking to his American leader, George Rogers Clark:

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“Hey, George, I done learnt meself how t’talk Frenchy already.”

“Already?” George asked with a slow smile. “Tell me about it.”

“Well, it’s real easy, once y’ get the hang of it.

All y’ do is, now, y’talk way up in your nose...” He began a sonorous twangy tone and continued:

“...an’ jes’ ‘bout ever’ other word y’ hang an ‘ay’ or an ‘oh’ on it,

an’ y’ turn yer voice up like a question ever’ half-a-dozen words,

an’ that’s how y’ do it, George.”

George laughed. “So let me hear you speak some of this Frenchy of yours.”

“Messy bo-koo, mohn coh-loh-NEL! I am-ay at thees moh-MOHN speakin’-ay t’ you-OH een Frenchy-AY!

Coh-loh-NEL George-AY Rohjairs CLARK, you air wohn boh-DAY-shus coh-loh-NEL of wohn boh-DAY-shus ar-MEE!

There. D’you understand that all right?”

“I did, for a fact,” George grinned. “But do the French?”

“Sure, I reckon they do; they look at me like they did.

But then, I can’t understand their answers. I ain’t learnt meself t’ HEAR Frenchy yet, jes’ t’ talk it.”

“Ha, ha, ha! Len, you’re one bodacious linguist.

VOUS PARLEZ FRANÇAIS ASSEZ BIEN, POUR UN KENTUCKIAN.”

“Say! Y’ ain’t doin too bad at it yerself, George!

I dang nigh understood you thar fer a minute.”

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