Faux Ami Diplomacy

Faux Ami Diplomacy

Late last month, French President, Emmanuel Macron seemed to encounter a situation of having good intentions “lost in translation.” While Macron is known for being well versed in English, he uttered the phrase that flipped the news cycle on it’s head for the rest of the week to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

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“I want to thank you for your welcome, thank you and your delicious wife for your warm welcome,” Macron said.

As one may expect, the journalists in attendance took this story and ran with it with the AP posting a report beginning with the phrase “Was it a Freudian slip by French President Emmanuel Macron? A joke linked to French gastronomy?” as a reference to the statement U.S. President, Donald Trump made to Macron’s wife, Brigitte.

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In July of this past year,  when Trump visited Paris for Bastille Day, he complimented Macron’s 64-year-old wife, Brigitte, saying she was in “such great shape.”

While it is easy to label Macron acting inappropriately for the linguistic choice, it is necessary to understand the meaning of the term in the French language. In navigating this “faux ami,” ( a word that looks and sounds similar in multiple languages but differs significantly in meaning), we must understand that the term “délicieuse” can and often does mean “delicious,” but it can also mean “lovely” or “charming” when used to describe a person.

Regardless of all things considered, this headline inducing event is a prime example of the difficulties of conducting diplomacy in a foreign language, even for a staunch globalist such as Macron.


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