Sunday, March 7, 2010
ce n'est pas terrible!
In addition to writing about my favourite things, I have decided to write about French expressions that I find interesting or unusual. My first installation is ce n'est pas terrible. As an English speaker you might think that this means "it's not bad/terrible" (ie. it's good), but actually it means "it's awful!" At first I took this expression at face value but I soon realized that it means the opposite of what it seems and now I'm using as a part of my regular language. Likewise, c'est terrible can mean "it's great!" My dictionary tells me that this usage dates back to 1664, when terrible changed from its original negative meaning to its alternative positive one. And here I thought it was some recent slang expression! Of course if you want to use this expression and sound like a native, you will need to drop the ne and just say c'est pas terrible, ça!