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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, eh, how do you say, eh, 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 he doesn'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, the character often uses 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 he or she 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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    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.

    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."

Alternative Title(s): How You Say


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