• Hannah Phillips

It’s a Question of Translation


It turns out that Emmanuel Macron has a knack not universally shared by visiting European dignitaries: he speaks nearly flawless English.


At a joint press conference with Malcolm Turnbull at Kirribilli on Wednesday he switched effortlessly between French and English as he fielded a couple of questions from media packs from both countries but, at the end of the presser, he showed how difficult it is to achieve perfection in a language that’s not your first – or perhaps his mind had already moved on to lunch with Sydney’s French community – when he reportedly thanked the Prime Minister “and your delicious wife” for their warm welcome.

However, Mr Turnbull, who was visiting Nowra on the NSW south coast on Thursday to announce a $155 million co-contribution to the construction of a bridge, assured the press that the “delicious wife” was far from being put out by the remark.

“Lucy was very flattered and she has asked me to say that she found the President’s compliment as charming as it was memorable,” he said.

We’re reliably informed by the French speakers among us that the brouhaha verged on the unnecessary since the word actually used by Mr Macron was “delicieuse” which translates as lovely or delightful when used to describe a female person.