Il a scié la branche sur laquelle il était assis.
ee lah see-ay lah brahsh sewr lah-kay lee lay-tay taa-SEE. Click below to hear this.*
He shot himself in the foot.
That trouble he’s in today? It’s his own fault. He bit the hand that was feeding him. He dug his own grave. He shot himself in the foot. Or, as the French would have it, He sawed off the branch he was sitting on.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and just say this: We have so many ways to bring about our own destruction! And just as many colorful ways to describe the mayhem that results.
This phrase came to mind the other day as I watched my neighbor carefully taking down a tree, one branch at a time, wearing all the appropriate safety gear and considering each move before he made it. What if he hadn’t been so cautious? The tree could have fallen on my new fence, or my my house, or his house, or him. It wasn’t just luck that none of the above happened. But what if?
For those who like grammar, note the sequence of tenses (as my neighbor noted the correct sequence of branch removal). Our careless fellow was sitting on the branch (était assis, imperfect tense, describing what was happening when something else occurred) when he sawed it off (a scié, in the passé composé, naming a completed action that occurred at a specific moment during the time something else is going on).
And no, my voice has not dropped by an octave or two. I’m testing a new French speaker. His name (for now, at least) is “European French Male”. Credit goes to a new app I have added to my BlackBerry, called SayIt. What do you think?
*Some mobile phones, such as Blackberries, won’t display the audio player. If no player appears, here’s an alternative link to the audio file: