Amuse-Bouche No. 5: What’s Litotes?
by Julia Frey
When is an insult not an insult?
Isabelle has invited les copains
(pals) to dinner. She brings in the entrée
(“appetizer,” not “entree”) hot from the oven, gives each of us a slice, watches to see if we like it. François-Noël swallows his first bite and announces,“Ça se laisse manger
” (“It lets itself be eaten”—i.e., it’s edible). Quoi?
He’s using une litote