George Trail wrote:
One of the first phrases you learn when you start learning French is, "ça va ?", which, of course, means, "How are you?"
No it doesn't.
I vividly remember the day I finished rebuilding the engine of my Triumph GT6 Mk1 (of 1967 vintage for the 'aficionados') in my garage in Belgium. A friend came to witness the magic moment of 'ignition' - but he arrived late, only to see the beast sputtering and coughing violently on three or four of its six cyclinders, as if in need of oxygen - as I did myself, half suffocated by the fumes in the confined space of my garage. "Ca va!?!?" he exclaimed (a mere question might have been considered insolent in the circumstances). "Ouais, 'vais bien !", I coughed. To which my friend replied, without the slightest sign of a smile on his face, "Bof ! - Toi mon vieux, je m'en fiche éperduement - je demande pour le moteur - Ça va? - Il tourne?".
[Edited at 2010-05-16 02:18 GMT]