This summer a revelation happened between me and this phrase.
La Soeur’s step kids (11 & 9) were camping with us, and were being forced to do dictées. A dictée is when the students are read a small paragraph, and are expected to copy it down without any spelling or grammatical errors.
FBF wanted to be the one to read to them in order to gloat about no longer being in elementary school and having his dictée-days behind him. He read the paper out loud and I followed along. It soon became apparent that FBF was not a very good dictée reader, as he would forget to tell them when a sentence was finished, or what type of punctuation to write. After being scolded a couple of times by the 9 year old, he finally got it together. On the third reading, he was telling them all the punctuation a person could need; point (period), virgule (comma), point d’interogation (question mark), etc.
Part of the dictée was a quotation, and I was eager to learn what this particular punctuation is called in French. FBF said it, and suddenly a light bulb went off in my head.
Ladies and Gentlemen, quotation marks are called “gemeys,” spelled guillemets, in French.
“Comme entre guillemets!” I exclaimed, barely able to contain my excitement of figuring out another piece of the puzzle which is the French language.
I’ve now added a very American action to when I say entre guillemets. I make quotation mark signs with my pointer and middle finger, regardless of the fact that while American quotation marks look like this “ “, French ones look like this « ». Maybe I should be turning my hands sideways instead?
What should be France's version of air quotes.