It was certainly lost in translation: a faux pas, if you will, when French president Emmanuel Marcon had thanked Lucy Turnbull, wife of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, during a joint press conference back on May 2 in Sydney. Was it a double entendre, or an honest mistake?
The quote came when Marcon had been greeted and welcomed by Turnbull in the press conference. After thanking the prime minister, it appears Marcon also thanked Turnbull’s “delicious wife,” Lucy.
The comment certainly perplexed both the crowd and various citizens alike. One commenter from the Aussie media told The Guardian that Marcon may have already been thinking about his lunch. Turnbull himself remarked the French president may just feel pressured with another meal with the Sydney community.
Interestingly, Marcon may have just committed a faux ami, or a word that may have two meanings depending on the language. The word Marcon used was “delicieux,” which may mean both “delightful” and “lovely,” when describing a person. It also means “delicious” when describing food.
Some say Marconi might be attempting a joke similar to what United States President Donald Trump did when he met with Marcon, where Trump said Bridgette Marcon, the French president’s wife, was in “great shape.”
The Aftermath: A ‘Charming’ Visit
Mixed reactions to the event were expected. Some Australians on Twitter were visibly upset, especially when newspaper The Daily Telegraph had depicted Marcon as Pepe Le Pew, an amorous cartoon skunk, on its front page after the visit. Marcon, though, said the front page made him laugh a lot, particularly because the character had a French accent in the cartoon.
Turnbull himself admitted the entire “delicious” debacle made Marcon’s visit all the greater. He added not only did Marcon charmed Australians, he charged Australia himself. Turnbull said the exchange was proof of the strong bonds between France and Australia that was almost as old as century. He added Lucy Turnbull herself was both charmed and flattered by the comment.
The exchange however added a brief moment of light in the seriousness of Marcon’s visit, which primarily focused on talks about regional security and trade with the heads of New Caledonia, a French territory.
Lost In Translation?
This awkward exchange is just one of some translation mishaps that occurred between world leaders through the years. A previous incident includes Nicolas Sarkozy, then-French president, telling Hillary Clinton “sorry for the time,” where the word used for “time,” “temps,” also meant “weather,” which Sarkozy intended to say.
Another was from Tony Blair, former British prime minister, who tried to tell “I envy you” to former French prime minister Lionel Jospin, and instead said “I want you.”
It can be remembered that Lucy Turnbull is also a known philanthropist and woman, aside from being a politician. Turnbull had also served as the Lord Mayor of Sydney from 2003 to 2004, and had been elected into the Sydney City Council back in 1999. Turnbull, then Lucy Hughes, met Malcolm Turnbull when she was 19, when Malcolm Turnbull asked Bob Carr, another Australian politician, to set them up on a date. They were eventually married in 1980. Since their marriage, Lucy Turnbull retained active roles in Australia, including involvement in non profits, company director, and city planning.
Emmanuel Marcon, French president, assumed office just last year in 2017. The 40-year old was previously the Minister of Economy, Industry, and Digital affairs back in 2012 to 2014 before assuming the presidency. Before then he served as Deputy Secretary of the President.
Meanwhile, Malcolm Turnbull is the current prime minister of Australia, having assumed office back in 2015. He was previously the leader of the opposition party back in 2008 and 2009 before becoming the head of the Liberal Party back in 2015.
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