I sat in a lab yesterday waiting to have blood drawn for some routine tests. If it’s in italics, it happened in French:
Lab tech: I’m going to take two you are staggering.
Me: (puzzled, miming staggering by walking my fingers randomly across the desktop) “To stagger” means to walk like this, right?
Lab tech looks at me for a minute, then laughs: I’m going to take two LITTLE TUBES.
Titubes is “you are staggering/stumbling/reeling.” Petits tubes is “little tubes.” Spoken casually, it comes out as p’ti tubes, and if you don’t hear the p, that sounds just like titubes.
There’s a lot we could say about the linguistic phenomena behind this, but at the moment, I’m feeling more impressed by the experience of interacting with the French medical system. The health care system here is one of the best in the world–there’s nothing you can get in America that you can’t get here. One of my foster brothers is a surgeon with a fascinating sub-specialty. He was sent here for a week during his training, because the surgeons in France were doing techniques that hadn’t made it to the US yet. (I find it ironic that Pasteur (the most important microbiologist of the 19th century) was French, and now America forbids French cheeses made with unpasteurized milk if they’re less than 60 days old. It’s going to go to 75 days soon, which will wreak havoc with the tiny bit of an artisanal cheese movement that we have in the US.)
Health care is universal here–it was declared a human right in 1948. In addition to being great, the health care here is not expensive. These routine blood tests done cost me $200 in the US every time that I have them done; here, along with a visit with a friendly young doctor who giggled adorably at my crappy French, they cost me exactly nothing. You gotta laugh at those Trump-voting Americans who sneer at socialized medicine, and then want a socialized snow plow to clear their street before work in the morning…
- le système de santé français: the French healthcare system
- l’assurance maladie: health insurance
- une analyse de sang: blood test
- passer une radiographie: to have an x-ray
- faire une radiographie: to take an x-ray
- une radio: x-ray (slang).