French president insults passerby at national agriculture convention

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The French president Nicolas Sarkozy insulted a passerby who refused to shake his hand at the national agricultural convention this weekend. After the visitor refused to shake Sarkozy's hand an exchange of insults followed which was captured on film and has become widely distributed on Internet and television. The incident, widely reported in French media, has not helped Sarkozy's already slumping popularity.

A transcript of the exchange in French:

  • Visitor : "Ah non, touche moi pas."
  • Sarkozy : "Casse toi alors!"
  • Visitor : "Tu me salis!"
  • Sarkozy : "Casse toi alors pauvre con!"

Which literally translates as:

  • Visitor : "Oh no, don't touch me."
  • Sarkozy : "Go away then!"
  • Visitor : "You dirty me!"
  • Sarkozy : "Go away then poor cunt!"

In the English speaking media, "pauvre con" has been variously translated as "total jerk", "arsehole", "dumb ass", "poor bastard", "poor cretin"... "Con" literally translates to "cunt" which in English is often interpreted as a very strong insult, whereas the French version is much milder and more often used.

In an interview published Tuesday in Le Parisien, a major French newspaper, Sarkozy is reported as saying "it would have been better" if he had responded differently. According to the editor of Le Parisien however, Sarkozy had expressed no regret about the incident during the interview, the text concerning the altercation was inserted by the Elysée Palace, the official residence of the President of the French Republic, when they were allowed to review the article before publication.

A translation conveying the real meaning of the exchange would be:

  • Visitor : "Don't you touch me!"
  • Sarkozy : "Bugger off, then..."
  • Visitor : "You dirty me."
  • Sarkozy : "Bugger off then, arsehole."