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How Do You Say

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Saison Marguerite: [In a thick French accent] Eh, Brittany, do you have an extra, how you say, hair tie?
Brittany: Why do you say "how do you say" before words you CLEARLY know how to say?!

Pretty much a Stock Phrase for any Funny Foreigner. Commonly used either to hang a lampshade on how they don't speak English too well or with swearing to create a Sophisticated as Hell effect.

Ironically, it is usually used to show that the character isn't very fluent in English, but after the "How you say..." line, they often use an overly sophisticated sentencenote .

Most frequently rendered as "how you say" instead of "how do you say" for added loose grasp on the language. Can lead to Buffy Speak. Another variant is to use it before an idiom, occasionally a... qu'est-ce qu'on dit... "Totally Radical" idiom. See Language Equals Thought if something along the lines of "my language, she has no word for this" comes up.

If the speaker is a Naive Newcomer or a Funny Foreigner, sometimes they will forego the "How do you say" part and just incorrectly use a stock phrase ("Time to let the butt be kicked!").

It is obviously... ¿cómo se dice..? "Truth in Television". No Real Life examples, please.


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    Fan Works 
  • The Bolt Chronicles: Berlioz uses this phrase in "The Paris Trip." His English is very good, though he's not sure of the right word for "grandfathered in."
    Berlioz: My humanís name is Jacques, and he's a jazz pianist. Plays in the house quintet at Chez Chaume Jazz Club. He's a sweetheart, too — really nice to me, treats me great. Only problem is, he's not allowed to have pets where he lives, so I have to stay at the jazz club. And I'm lucky to be there — they bent the rules to let me do so, kind of — how would you say it in English? — grandfathered me into the place.
  • In Junior Officers, Verdun says this, and mumbles to himself in French for a moment, before figuring out what the word was.
    I hope zat ze next field researcher is, how you say...(mumbles in French)...magnificent.

  • Professor Anna Vooshka from Carry On Behind is a Russian archaeologist who has come to Britain to help uncover Roman artifacts. Unfortunantly, her English is spotty and leads her to say many Double Entendres.
    Professor Vooshka: You see, I am keeping a - how you say - dirrrty caravan.
  • Kansas City Princess: The gag in this film is that Marie and Rosie are American women pretending to be French, and doing it quite badly. So that's what's going on when Rosie's giggling flirtatiousness prompts Marie to say to Junior, "She has, how you say, a good time?"

    Live-Action TV 
  • Parodied in The Office (US), where Michael thought it was necessary to say "How you say?" to a perfectly English-fluent and non-French Canadian woman under the basis of her being "foreign".

    Web Originals 
  • The Most Popular Girls in School has Saison Marguerite, who says this fairly frequently. Sometimes before words that actually are French. Brittnay lampshades this fairly often and uses it to accuse Saison of being from Montreal instead of France.
    Saison: Oh, are you suggesting a - how you say - ménage à trois?
    Brittnay: Really? You're really asking how to say "ménage à trois"? It's a fucking French word, you little bitch!

    Western Animation 
  • Used frequently in Godzilla: The Series with the native Frenchwoman of the team, Monique, even though her English is competent and avoids Blunt Metaphors Trauma. Memorably inverted once with (paraphrasing):
    Monique: We will, how you say, throw a monkey wrench in the works?
    Nick: In English, we call it 'sabotage'.
  • Archer: At the beginning of the pilot episode, Archer is interrogated by a Russian with a bad accent (who's actually not even Russian, which is immediately lampshaded by Archer saying, "Would you pick an accent and stick to it?"), who tells Archer that capturing him "is for us, how you say... a good get."
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: From "All That Glitters":
    I would not dare touch such slop as you say...Krabby Patty.

This you say...the end?

Alternative Title(s): How You Say