Sunday, July 25, 2010

guili guili

We celebrated my father-in-law's birthday last night, and to my delight, after one verse of "Happy Birthday to You," it was Carl who called out "Now in French!" and led the family in a round of "Joyeux Anniversaire."

The boys also took turns tickling each other and the rest of us, often accompanied by "Beau front," a rhyme that attributes mostly nonsense descriptions to facial features:

Beau front (beautiful forehead) (touch all the parts as you say them)
Beaux yeux (beautiful eyes)
Nez de cancan (nose like a rumor? nose like someone who spreads gossip? nose like the can-can dance? nose like a duck quacks? I'm not sure about the meaning of this one.)
Bouche d'argent (silver mouth)
Menton fleuri (floral chin)
Guili guili (gitchy-gitchy-goo!) (and then tickle the tummy)

Carl has certainly heard me say this, but Griffin has it memorized. When Carl saw Griffin doing "Beau front" to the rest of us, he tried to join in, but had to keep asking Griffin, "What's next?" or "What do you say for chin?" Griffin so admires Carl--he imitates everything he does these days, right down to his intonation and what he touches when he runs through a room)--that it was great to hear my son teaching his big cousin something for a change, especially since Carl speaks almost no French any more!


  1. maybe it's suppose to be nose of someone who puts their nose in other people's business (like a rumour or spreading gossip... well related to that anyway).

    I love this. SO simple, so much fun!

  2. Just as an added resource- I just found an article answering questions from parents about bringing children up bilingual:

  3. That's cute :)

    Mine are similar, though not with language where the eldest is definitely ahead. It's more with sporty things where she needs to take pointers from the little punk as he knows instinctively how to climb up just about anything, when she often wouldn't know how to even start.

    Maybe Griffin can tutor Carl in a couple of years :)

  4. @Allan--Thanks for the link! Grosjean really knows what he's talking about.

    @smashedpea--It's fascinating to consider their dynamics, isn't it? How much of their behavior do we attribute to age, birth order, sex, etc., and how much is just their personality asserting itself? Then we go and throw another language into the mix and that just makes it even messier! (But what a good messy, right?)

  5. My guess (just a guess!) is that "nez de cancan" means "duck nose." According to, "cancan" is a "nom enfantin" for "canard." It would be even better if it had a double (or triple) meaning.

    I think that "fleuri" can also mean something like "twinkling," "bright," or "sparkly" when applied to the skin or face.

  6. I tried this out on my kids several times today and they loved it--even my four-year-old. What a great little rhyme and easy to remember!