My Little Cabbage… and other charming blunders in translation

With over 70 years of marriage under their belts, Prince Phillip and Queen Elizabeth II have
lived an extraordinary public life together. But did you know in private the duke uses a pet name for his wife?

Claire Foy and Matt Smith, The Crown, Series 1


If you’re a fan of the Netflix series, The Crown, you may already know of the affectionate term ‘cabbage,’ used to refer to this most famous of women by her devoted husband.

Yes, Cabbage! Kind of cute.

Also a little weird.

Unless your ears are tuned to the French, from where some say this pet name originates.

mon petit chou, a French way of saying “my darling.”

In English, though, the term translates literally to “my little cabbage,”  though it actually comes from the pastry chou à la crème. 

So why am I throwing terms of affection around like a French pastry chef?

Because I need one, dear friends, and I need your help.

In the writing of book 3 of the Blue Wren Shallows series, I find myself hunting for a name our hero might use… kind of by accident.

He’s an American from Portland, Oregon, who tangles with our somewhat younger, Australian-born heroine. He wrongly assumes she’s way youger than she is, and makes the mistake of calling her something that will really annoy her.

A little off… like ‘cabbage’ …and perhaps a little condescending to her ears.

Of course, he means no harm with his word choice, innocently choosing the word(s) he might use for a little girl in his own real world.

The pet name Sugar comes to mind, but I know this is used more in the South. And yeah… it already sounds wrong.

But what about a man from the other side of America? What would he say? How would he caution a ‘young girl’ if he saw her heading for some kind of trouble and wanted to hurry her home to where her anxious parents will be waiting for her? (Oh the humiliation – she will be livid.)

If you have a great idea, share it in the comments below. And if I go with your suggestion, I’ll be sure to use your beautiful real name in my thankful acknowledgements.


Much love,