[Before any George Clooney fans approach this post readily wielding pitchforks and lighted torches, I do have a plausible reason for hating him. Well, perhaps "hate" is too strong of a word. I think he did an excellent job in the film O Brother, Where Art Thou and he certainly still shows that he has some acting stamina left to do more action films (more recently, The American).
But Georgie-Porgie and I have a score to settle... ]
Back when I started teaching in Dijon, I learned a little too late that the French have had their vocabulary supplemented with the phrase "What Else?" This is thanks to the Nescafé/Nespresso commercials that Clooney endorses in rather amusing clips and posters at bus stops showing what looks like his passport with the catchphrase "What Else?"
Here was the commercial I repeatedly saw for the Nespresso Espresso Maker:
[EDIT: The video for the commercial was, for some reason, messed up. It featured Clooney appearing to escape from dying after he exchanged his Nespresso Maker to a John Malkovich "God." At the end, Clooney asks the question "What Else?"]
It's kinda funny, right? You'd think that I would be charmed by such a cleverly-done advertisement, particularly because it involves coffee and suggests that you could potentially have a "Get Out of Dying" card should you be able to trade something material after you get crushed by a piano and face the pearly gates.
WELL, I'M NOT LAUGHING.
Thanks to this campaign, the question of "What Else?" has created an impediment with my job of properly teaching English. I found that in the middle of my lessons, I would pose the question a few times and it would always result with my students chirping back an answer of "Nespresso."
In short, the French mind intercepts the phrase as follows:
Native English Speaker Unwittingly Asks "What Else?" = Opportunity for Us to Mock Native English Speaker
You never know how many times you end up blurting those two words until French students start giggling and respond "Nescafé!" or "Nespresso!" in your face. For a teacher, not being able to ask this question is like having a kidney removed; it has really put a hitch in doing my job.
You would think that avoiding this combination of words would be simple enough, but it is not as easy as I would like to believe. The two monosyllabic words escape from my lips at crucial moments when I interrogate a student.
After being stung by these predictable quips a good 5 or 6 times, I began to make conscious efforts to prevent myself from uttering "What Else?" in the middle of class. I thought that this phrase could easily be avoided if I kept repeating the mantra "I will not ask 'What Else?'" and concentrated my mental energy to purge this from my vocabulary.
I just hope that during my 4-month absence, the French have completely forgotten all about this advertising campaign and within two weeks I can go back to asking "What Else?" without any repercussions and qualms of embarrassment in front of my students. But I doubt that will be the case. A friend even offered a solution that I start asking "anything else" instead.