Tuesday, March 23, 2010

English Terminology

Having lived outside of the US for a long time now, I often forget very pointed, specific expressions or terms that would sometimes come in handy in conversations. The fact that I speak mostly French here every day means that when I do have the occasion to speak to a native English speaker I find myself explaining a situation using a long-winded description rather than the more appropriate and exact word or expression.

One example of this occurred a few months back when speaking to some visiting US Navy officials. I was explaining that "we non-African women living here often get pulled over by the police who are waiting for us on the side of the road and hold us there in our over-heated cars for as long as it takes in the sun at noon with our kids crying in the back seat  until we pay them off and they let us go." One of the Americans looked at me with amazement in his eyes and said, "No Way!! They do shakedowns on the moms here in town?!" Until that moment I had really only related that specific term to episodes of the Sopranos and Al Pacino movies, but heck yes, we live in a town where soccer-mom shakedowns take place pretty regularly, and I kind of enjoy using the term whenever the subject comes up now!

So, in an effort to make full use this very pertinent English-language term, I'll post here two pictures I managed to take one day of my friend Pauline experiencing a real-life shakedown of her own with her two boys in the back seat.

If you look hard enough in the driver's side of the car, you can see here the stressed-out mom leaning over toward the open door trying to make sense of the oncoming shakedown.

And here's a close-up of the shakedown in progress. This was the best I could do, though, as the cop was not amused at my photo taking, which seems to be pretty standard practice during shakedowns.

 Aaaahhhhhh....it feels good to put the English language to good use!


Anonymous said...

Hey! I remember that day, i was there! Look closely and you'd see my US COAST GUARDS face cap, ha!


Anonymous said...
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Denis said...

That is one aspect of being there that I don't miss at all!!!

How very excellent of you to capture this in a blog ;-)

You're a clever lady!

JS said...

I've been following your blog the last little while as my boyfriend and I have accepted a position in Port Gentil. It has been so nice to read first hand experiences about living there! Thank you!
Any advice before we make the move (July)? Must-haves to bring with us?

Franglais Expats said...

Hello JS,

If you have a container coming in with you be sure to pack any and all food items you are really attached to. Here in PoG you will find every French food item you could dream of, but if you are from the US, Canada, UK or Australia, pack up whatever can survive the long trip in a container. (Tortillas last the trip, I discovered). Also, new clothing is not available here, so you'll want to bring enough to last you for a while. There are many things you cannot buy here, so if you have any specific questions lemme know.

Also, July and August are deadly quiet in town since each and every mother and child leaves town to go back to France. Mainly men left in town. Don't worry when you get here, though, by September social events will pick back up.

JS said...

Thanks for the advice... you've given me a wonderful excuse to go shopping! We are Canadian so I'll definitely start stocking up on a few key food items.
Also, thanks for letting me know about July and August. We don't have any children so I'm hoping I can find something to occupy my time there. I'm sure I'll be looking forward to September

Anonymous said...


My husband and I are also moving shortly to PG. I am having some difficulty with the dog & cat though. Do you know if there are any vets and/or kennels in PG for when we need them? Any help would be greatly appreciated!


Franglais Expats said...


Yes, there is a good vet here in town (French vet with insane rates, but we all pay what we need to!!) but no kennel. You won't need a kennel though here because you'll have a "guard" assigned to your house upon arrival by your company, and you just have to show him what to feed your pets when you're out of town. That's what everyone does here and it works out great! No need to move your pets when you travel.

Anonymous said...


My wife and I plus 2 boys aged 4 and 8 are due to relocate to Port Gentil in the next few weeks, we currently live in Malaysia. Can you advise if there are any schools in Port Gentil that accommodates children who speak English or is it only French that is spoken at schools?
Would love to hear back from you and thanks for posting your blog.

Our email address: bowker@email.com

Shaun and Melissa Bowker.

Anonymous said...

hey are you guys still in port gentil?

Kate said...

My husband and I just found out that we will be getting transferred to Port-Gentil within the next month or two. I have been feverishly searching the internet for any and ALL information I can find and came across your blog. It is full of wonderful information and eases a lot of my worries about our big move (we will be coming from New Orleans, LA). I do have some questions remaining, is there an email address I could reach you at? Thank you for your help!