What is the French sentence used when one is having dinner and the conversation turns to delicate matters or any controversial topic which the host and guests do not wish the domestic servants to hear? Someone says something that means, “Speak French, the servants are here,” or “…the servants shouldn’t hear this.” Part of it goes, “Something something les domestiques.” I seen it on PBS when they were showing UPSTAIRS AND DOWNSTAIRS (ou hautescalier et bases-
calier). I will need this sentence for uttering around the house. Also, I may be entertaining at a restaurant, La Petite Maison de la Casa Mia Chez Mama and I don’t want Chef Luis or Pierre or any of the waiters to hear our conversation, so what would be a phrase, say, in Finnish or something that we can use?

My guess would be «Pas devant les domestiques», “Not in front of the servants.”

Well, I have a French woman standing next to me reading this and she doesn’t know…

She said that she would just say, “dites-moi en français” (Tell me in French).

I don’t know of any ‘specific’ phrase.

Arnold has the phrase, that’s what was said in UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS.

In Swedish, I think " Not in front of the help" would be “Inte framför servitör”. If not, someone will be along shortly to correct it.

En Español, hay “No enfrente de los camareros” (for waiters) o “no enfrente de los servidòres.” (for servants)

Aren’t those phrases treated pretty much as a joke these days? Anyway, on the “Upstairs Downstairs” model, other phrases that have been used are “pas devant les autres” and “pas devant les enfants” referring to “the others” and “the children” respectively.

It seems to me that it cannot really work as a subtle hint, as there is every chance that the excluded ones will understand the phrase. I can see the point of having a useful phrase in Finnish, though.:slight_smile:

That’s because the French don’t use it, since its purpose is to exclude the servants/children/others from the conversation. They probably say, “Not in front of the servants”.

And yes, it’s pretty much a joke nowadays, though you can still get away with it with young children.

ChiefWahoo, your Spanish needs some improvement. Most of it is wrong (not to mention quite unrelated to the OP).

I think Arnold got it right. When the kids would start talking about something the parents thought the servants should not hear the parents would say “not in front of the servants” but in French to avoid offending the servants.

I suppose the concept would be applicable to any bilingual family who has help who are not bilingual.

Originally posted by don willard

Swedish (admittedly, not Finnish) “gör inte tala framför servitör”

Care to re-assess the relevance of my post to the OP? or how about correcting the spanish instead of criticizing?

Try this: “ude-day! ell-tay ee-may ater-lay… ee-thay aid-may is-ay istening-lay!”

Let me know if this helps…

Puis-je taller mon crayon?

All the French I remember from high school…