When I first met Mémère she smiled at me and said that I had a face like a catin. Andrew (my husband) later explained that in Acadian French it meant that I had a pretty face like a doll. Mémère said it often throughout the years and I always felt good when I heard it.
A couple of years ago I was reading a book and saw the word 'catin' used in a very different context. Imagine my surprise when I found out that in Parisian French that word meant prostitute or whore. I showed my husband and he had quite a laugh over his very proper grandmother unknowingly saying that I had a face like a whore. I made him promise not to tell anyone because I didn't want her to feel bad. Andrew and I, however, had to work very hard to keep a straight face whenever Mémère commented on how I looked.
Now that she won't be embarrassed I can share this story. And whatever the meaning of catin it was a pleasure to hear it come from her. It wasn't the word that mattered. It was the love with which it was spoken.