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Too French for translation…

#12 Sortable

The French word Sortable is an adjective used to describe someone you can be seen with in public without being embarrassed. The term derives from the French verb, ‘sortir’, meaning ‘to go out[side]’ and is first attested as being implemented in 1894. Used most frequently in reference to people, sortable is mostly encountered in negation ‘pas sortable’ to illustrate a variety of different shortfalls in an individual.

The English language is incapable of providing a direct equivalent and is forced to rely on longwinded explanations, such as ‘to be fit to be taken out in public’. Sortable is applicable in numerous contexts, whether it be due to a person’s untidy presentation, their poor manners or their lack of grace and humility. The closest offering is the informal idiom that translates its negative counterpart, ‘I cannot take you anywhere!’.

In his 1985 song, ‘Pardonnez-moi Mademoiselle’, Jean Ferrat uses this adjective as part of his witty apology to a young woman. The character lists a variety of his faults and flaws, including his short attention span, lack of compassion and general untidiness. The various ways in which he deems himself incompatible with the world around him are surmised in his confession, ‘C’est vrai je suis pas sortable’.

Jean Ferrat

Paroles de la chanson « Pardonnez-moi mademoiselle »

Pardonnez-moi mademoiselle
Je suis plein de confusion
D’avoir frôlé vos dentelles
Effleuré vos bas nylon
J’ai pas d’excuse officielle
Ni de justification
Vraiment vous étiez si belle
Et puis vous sentiez si bon

C’est vrai je suis pas sortable
J’ai pas de conversation
Je m’ennuie chez les notables
Dans les repas les salons
J’ai l’oreille imperméable
Je n’entends pas les questions
J’ai le cerveau sous la table
Ou je dessine au plafond