Les enfants jouaient à saute-mouton.
lay zah-fah zhway ah sote-moo-TAW. Click below to hear this.
The children were playing leapfrog.
There are no frogs involved in the game of leapfrog. It’s not even clear who’s the “frog”. Is it the child who leaps, or the one who crouches down and hopes the jumper doesn’t kick him in the head?
In France, there are plenty of frogs, and I’m not talking about the politically-incorrect name for a Frenchman, though there are some 50 million of those too. A frog is une grenouille (pronounce it gruh-NOO-yuh), and there aren’t any of those in the game.
Little French children play saute-mouton, which is “leap-sheep”. Sheep are a good deal larger than des grenouilles, which makes them a much greater challenge to jump over.
But children come in pretty much the same sizes and shapes everywhere, so the game doesn’t change any. The kid crouching down is still hoping the jumper will miss his ears, and the jumper is still hoping the “mouton” won’t suddenly rear up and trip the jumper. Play nice, les enfants!