French President François Hollande has caused much hilarity on social media sites after he committed a faux pas by signing a letter congratulating Barack Obama on his re-election with “Friendly, Hollande”.
The Connexion reports:
The president wrote an open letter in French offering his “warm congratulations” on Obama’s re-election, which was posted on the Elysée’s Facebook page.
However he has come in for ribbing over his English after trying to personalise it: he added a handwritten “Cher Barack” at the top (Dear Barack) and signed off with “Friendly” instead of a more suitable phrase such as “Best wishes” - he was probably thinking of the casual French sign off “Amicalement”.
“Couldn’t one of his 200 advisers have told him that ‘friendly’ doesn’t mean anything at the bottom of a letter?” asked one Facebook commenter; while another offered the helpful tip that letter sign-offs can be found in the extra pages in the centre of dictionaries.
“Is there no one in the Elysée who speaks English and can check that the president doesn’t make a fool of himself?” another said.
Hollande, whose English is better than Nicolas Sarkozy's, but not perfect, made the common mistake among non-native speakers of thinking that 'friendly' was an adverb, and could thus be used to translate the French adverb 'amicalement.' However 'friendly' is one of a number of English adjectives ending in -ly which do not have corresponding adverbs. Others include 'lovely', 'daily', 'likely', and 'lonely' (see here for full list). He could have ended his letter with 'Your friend', which keeps the idea of 'amicalement'.
Hollande might also have been thinking of other, more formal, closing formulas such as 'Sincerely', or 'Yours faithfully'. See here for more on ways of ending letters and emails.
• Hollande blunders in Obama letter (The Connexion)
• Francois Hollande Tweet To Obama Mocked (Huffington Post)
• Hollande makes a 'friendly' mistake in letter to Obama (The Local)