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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 sentence.

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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  • Francesco's Italy: Top to Toe
    Francesco: To travel through Sicily is to travel through time. I feel like your British Time Lord - how do you say? Doctor... what?

  • In Catch Me in Midair Fleur describes Draco as "One 'oo 'olds 'is cards, how do you say? Close to ze vest?"
  • Harry Potter and the Alternative Tournament:
    Harry: Hmm...Gabrielle Delacour versus the Ministry...can I put a dozen galleons on Gabby now?
    Fleur: Non. It would be, how do you say, a 'sucker bet'.
  • The World is Our Oyster:
    Fleur: Beell, you parents 'ave been in a difficult time. You cannot ah - attendre - what is ze word? Attendre? Expect! You cannot expect zem to eegnore that which Dumbledore is saying, peux-tu?
  • The Lonely Letters:
    Fleur: I zought I 'ad lost you forever mon amour.
    Harry: Never, Fleur. The grave itself could not stop me from being at your side.
    Fleur: Zat was... 'ow you say? Cheesy?

  • A Good Year
    Ludivine Duflot: Almost all French aristocrat have, how you say... liaison with their cousins, yes?
  • Blame It On Rio
    Eduardo Marques: You are, how you say, the queer couple?
  • Carry On Behind
    Prof. Anna Vrooshka: You see, I am keeping a — how you say — dirrrty caravan.
  • Intolerable Cruelty
    Heinz, the Baron Krauss von Espy: She spe-cif-i-cated a man with a wandering pee-pee. How you say? A philanderer whose affairs would be transparent to the world.
  • Scooby-Doo! and the Monster of Mexico
    Doña Dolores: I don't trust him, never did. He is a... how you say in America?
    Fred: Crook?
    Daphne: Liar?
    Velma: Con man?
    Doña Dolores: [waits a beat] Jerk!
  • The Likely Lads
    Christina: I learn much this weekend Terry, it has been, how you say in English, an eyesore.
  • Transporter 2
    Gianni: Perhaps I can help you! What part are you a little... how you say, "thick" on?
  • James and the Giant Peach
    Spider: We are in the middle of the, how do you say, the big puddle.
    Centipede: Biggest puddle of 'em all, angel fangs ? the Atlantic Ocean.
  • The Book of Stars, talking about a hypothetical date:
    Penny: What makes you wanna talk to her?
    Kristjan: Oh, I would come to her because she's lovely and how do you say, um, mysterious.
  • Parodied in Top Secret!:
    Ducoit: Well, Monsieur Rivers, it seems that you have become, how do you say, indispensable?
    Nick: "Indispensable."
    Ducoit: That's what I thought.
  • Ariel has this in The Little Mermaid about surface things she's not very sure about. "Walking around on those—what do you call them—oh! Feet!"


    Live-Action TV 
  • Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion (1955) episode "Rodeo":
    Payroll Sgt. Zach Zachariades: A legionnaire in love is, how you say, like a starving man looking in the window of a delicatessen store. He cannot touch what he's crazy to have.
  • The A-Team episode "The A-Team Is Coming, the A-Team Is Coming":
    Katrina Karpov: How you say? Take off all your clothing?
  • The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles episode "Barcelona, May 1917":
    Marcello: And the count is, how you say in Englese? Eh, a semi-psychotic paranoid introvert.
  • Whoops Apocalypse:
    Premier Dubienkin: We like, how you say, kick them in the balls.
  • The "How Do You Say? Ah, Yes." Show with Antonio Banderas.
  • 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".
  • In Get Smart, a staple of Hawaiian detective Harry Hou's dialogue. As Max is providing the desired word, it's of course never the correct one.

  • "Come Play Wiz Me" from Anyone Can Whistle:
    You like my hair, yes? My lips, yes?
    Ze sway of my, how you say, of my hips, yes?...
    I like your, how you say, imperturbable perspicacity.
    It isn't how you say, it's what you see!

  • "Hamilton"
Lafayette, who later gets "the fastest rap in the show":
How you say, how you sa- ah anarchy!


    Web Originals 

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons episode "Burns Verkauft der Kraftwerk":
    Horst: I must have phrased that bad. My English is, how you say, inelegant.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers episode "Isle of Solar Energy":
    Linka: See? We found the correct cave ? how do you say ? right off the bat?
  • 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."
    • Also used by the villain, Scorpio, in a later episode:
      Lana: "You knew this whole time?"
      Scorpio: "How you say... wahh wahh."
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog uses this for Le Quack, a French criminal duck.
    "Go... how do you say it... away."
  • Antoine from Sonic Sat AM.
    Antoine: Princess, I hate to be a, how you say, worryworm...

Alternative Title(s): How You Say


Example of: