Je m’appelle Hamish

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Yes, that’s right. It’s French. And it means “I’m called Hamish”. The French use that expression for revealing who they are instead of its popular counterpart in English which goes “My name is Hamish”. This apparently makes more sense to the deserving French community, because, let’s face it…. How many people are bothered about names… They only want to know what people are called. At the end of the day, or even in the middle of the day, the essence of the matter is to find out how to call somebody.

Starting yesterday, I began the noble quest of extending my linguistic horizons. Our gifted French tutor, Madam Ashika Sharma, started out by teaching out the alphabets, which are written the same way as in English, but pronounced differently; with the inherent grace of an asthmatic patient. Here, ‘a’ is pronounced like ‘aa’, ‘b’, like ‘bay, ‘c’ like ‘say’, ‘d’ like ‘day’, ‘e’ like ‘err’, and so on.’Of course yesterday’s was just an introductory session. And our tutor, armed with the education only an MBA can give, stopped the alphabets at ‘g’. Sort of like the “to be continued” caption given at the end of popular serials just when the detective is about to reveal the murderer’s identity… But then again, there really is little aura of mystery here… I strongly believe most of the class is aware that the next letter is ‘h’… Of course the pronunciation may be anything from ‘hey’ to ‘hi’ to ‘howdy’, but the culprit is pretty evident.

As far as French phrases go, it is with pride that I say that now I can tell in French that “Il s’appelle this” for “He is called this”, “Elle s’appelle that” for “She is called that”, etc… Unfortunately that is about all I can say. Ashika went on to teach us “Tu t’appeller that”, for “You are called that”, which seems to have little use for me, since most of my friends seem to know what they are called more than I do.

But I must confess that such trivial matters don’t stop me from using my new-found powers. All day long I’ve been going about campus telling people what they are called… Of course some people didn’t like it at all. And when the occasion demands that I show proof of higher vocabulary, I improvised using the few other words I was taught, like “Bonjour” for “Good day”, “Merci” for “Thank you”, “oui” for “yes”, and “non” for “no”. To an extend, you can make conversation with this vocabulary… of course, it won’t work with someone who actually knows the language…


Me: Je m’appelle Hamish

She: What?

Me: Je m’appelle Hamish. It’s French. Means “I’m called Hamish”

She: Oh! Parlez-vous français ? Je suis de Paris. Il si gentil de vous rencontrer!!
(Oh! Do you speak French? I am from Paris. It so nice to meet you!!)

Me: err… Oui….
(err… Yes…)

She: Je vais à l’université de France. J’étudie langues étrangères et la linguistique. Où est-ce que vous faites vos études ?
(I go to the university of France. I study foreign languages and linguistics. Where do you do your studies?)


She: Me comprenez-vous?
(Do you understand me?)


She: Qu’est-ce qu’il y a?
(What’s wrong?)

Err… appelle

She: Appelle???!! êtes-vous bien ?
(Apelle???!! Are you ok?)

Non… errr. Merci

She: Je dois aller. vous êtes très étrange…
(I must go. You are very strange…)


Hmmm… maybe I should learn some more before I try chatting with strangers. Of course, I’m gonna speak French with all those I’m CERTAIN do not know French…

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2 Responses

  1. elisabeth says:

    well, all the best then. it’s not that tough. and to cut the suspense, “h” is pronounced as “ash”. have fun

  2. Hammy says:

    Thanks, Lizzy

    Unfortunately, that particular course was cancelled, owing to technical difficulties such as the teacher falling head over heels in love with someone (some non-French guy, to clarify…) and finding better ways to spend her time than setting out an army of monosyllabic friends out to ruin the French language.

    I know… bummer…

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