Emmanuel Macron raises eyebrows after calling Australian Prime Minister’s wife ‘delicious’

Emmanuel Macron, the French President, has raised eyebrows during his visit to Australia by calling prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s wife Lucy "delicious".

At the end of a joint news conference between the two leaders, the 40-year old French president turned to thank Mr Turnbull for his hospitality.

“I want to thank you for your welcome,” he said, before raising the Gallic charm a notch by adding: “Thank you and your delicious wife for your warm welcome."

Mr Macron’s interesting choice of English prompted instant mirth on social media, amid some confusion over his intent.

The jury appears to be out over whether it was an odd, but deliberate play on words or a linguistic slip-up.

Some observers thought he may have used the word “delicious” as a deliberate joke, coming just seconds after Mr Turnbull referred to the French president’s imminent lunch with members of Sydney’s French community.

Others suggested that Mr Macron, who prides himself on speaking fluent English, simply fell foul of a “false friend”. The French word for delicious – délicieux – can also translate as “delightful”, even if it is a rather antiquated – some would argue sexist – term.

The potential for linguist slip-ups is not all one-way however, and there is ample potential for English-speakers to fall foul of French.

Emmanuel Macron poses with Malcolm Turnbull  and his wife Lucy Turnbull outside the Sydney Opera House Credit:

One bloomer to avoid at all costs is to use the French word “excité” to describe oneself as excited; in French it means you are sexually aroused.

If it was a linguistic slip, Mr Macron is by no means the first leader to experience translation problems. 

Arguably the most infamous supposed gaffe was John F Kennedy’s legendary claim: "Ich bin ein Berliner", which could mean "I’m a Berliner" or "I’m a doughnut". 

Emmanuel Macron is by no means the first leader to experience translation problemsCredit:

In 2009, France’s Europe minister, Pierre Lellouche, sparked a diplomatic incident by branding Prime Minister David Cameron’s pledge to reclaim EU powers "pathetic". The term in French is often translated as "moving", "touching" or "poignant".

One solution would be to avoid English altogether. 

That would clearly be to the liking of France’s ambassador to the EU, Philippe Léglise-Costa, who walked out of a meeting with fellow EU envoys last week in Brussels in disapproval at the use of English.

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He was said to have exclaimed: "Monsieur, Non!"