‘Friendly’ Hollande shows off his English skills to Obama

As US President Barack Obama tasted sweet victory on Tuesday night, world leaders raced to be the first to congratulate the incumbent on his hard-fought election win. French President François Hollande joined the stampede to symbolically high-five the leader of the free world.


A little word of praise was surely in order, so the text in French was drawn up and Elysée Palace letterhead was quickly located. Considering it important to add a personal touch, the president reached for his fanciest pen and closed the letter as such:




François Hollande



To show off his command of the English language and emphasise his close relationship with Obama, Hollande then had the letter posted on the Elysée’s Facebook page. The French media quickly spotted his error and everyone had a good laugh at Hollande’s expense.


The French president’s error is easy to understand: he wanted to say amicalement, a standard and informal closing for French letters. He – or an aide who I hope has since been put on dust bin duty – translated the term literally.


With one stroke of his plume, Hollande has also written himself into the not-so-proud tradition among French politicians of murdering the English language.


Check out former prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin arguing in favor of a “Yes” vote on the European Constitution in 2005.


And former president Nicolas Sarkozy (before he was president) charming potential foreign investors.




In his own congratulatory letter to Obama in 2008, Sarkozy did not fumble on the English, but the president’s name, which he spelled Barak –with no c…


To the see again, err.. I mean, Au revoir,


The Fuss in France

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