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Entries from July 2005

portefeuille

  Market = Marché in Lorgues (c) Kristin Espinasse
                 The Tuesday market in Lorgues (southeast France)

le portefeuille (pohr-tuh-fuhy) noun, masculine
  1. wallet, billfold, pocket-book; portfolio

..............
Listen
Hear the word portefeuille: Download portefeuille.wav

.....................
Expressions:
avoir un portefeuille bien garni = to be well-off
mettre la main au portefeuille = to fork out (money)

.............................
Citation du Jour:
L'homme a perdu son âme et la cherche au fond de son portefeuille...
Man has lost his soul and looks for it deep inside his wallet...

                                             --Normand Rousseau
.......................................
A Day in a French Life...

(The story that originally appeared here, along with the vocabulary, below, is now a part of this book!)
....................
*References: cent soixante euros = one hundred sixty euros; le billet (m) = banknote; rapé = grated; la confiture (f) = jam; deux pour un = two for one; le congélateur (m) = freezer; ouf! = phew!; le four (m) = oven; le thon (m) = tuna; la crevette (f) = shrimp; mais, non! = absolutely not!; le portefeuille (m) = wallet

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


façon

        Lesboulists
                   Max (last on right, green shirt) and friends playing Boules

la façon (fa-sahn) noun, feminine
  1. way, manner

Hear today's word pronounced: Download facon.wav

...................
Expressions:
de toute(s) façon(s) = at any rate, anyway
sans façon = unpretentiously
faire des façons = to make a fuss

.........................
Citation du Jour:
La façon la plus rapide de mettre fin à une guerre est de la perdre.
The quickest way to end a war is to lose it.
--George Orwell

.....................................
A Day in a French Life...

Recommended Reading: don't miss the story, now a book, that originally accompanied this edition and included these French vocabulary words:

les bizarreries (fpl) = oddities; 37°C = 98.6°F; la douche (f) = shower; le soleil de Provence (m) = the Provence sun; Boules (a.k.a. "Pétanque") (fpl) = a traditional game played with heavy steel balls; le gratin (m) = casserole (of potatoes...); le drap (m) = sheet; les heures creuses (fpl) = off-peak periods; le mouton (m) = sheep

You will find the French word façon referenced in these books:

La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange: The Original Companion for French Home Cooking
La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange: The Original Companion for French Home Cooking by Madame Evelyn Saint-Ange and Paul Aratow

"Salt Cod, Southern-French Style (Morue à la Façon Méridionale)."

Le Petit Prince: French Edition
Le Petit Prince: French Edition by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Rien n'est vrai dans ce livre, mais il en est ainsi pour toute chose: Nothing in this Book Is True, French-Language Edition
Rien n'est vrai dans ce livre, mais il en est ainsi pour toute chose: Nothing in this Book Is True, French-Language Edition by Bob Frissell

Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France
Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France by Kristin Espinasse

Savoir-Flair: 211 Tips for Enjoying France and the French
Savoir-Flair: 211 Tips for Enjoying France and the French by Polly Platt and Ande Grchich

The Graphic Unconscious in Early Modern French Writing (Cambridge Studies in French)
The Graphic Unconscious in Early Modern French Writing (Cambridge Studies in French) by Tom Conley

French for Marketing: Using French in Media and Communications
French for Marketing: Using French in Media and Communications by R. E. Batchelor and Malliga Chebli-Saadi

Elsevier's Dictionary of Art History Terms: French/English-English/French
Elsevier's Dictionary of Art History Terms: French/English-English/French by J.P. Michaux

English Word-Formation (Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics)
English Word-Formation (Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics) by Laurie Bauer

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


gratter

       Chickens/Poulets in the Luberon (c) Kristin Espinasse
  Je gratte, tu grattes, ils grattent... chickens in the Luberon (photo by JM)

Your book orders are helpful in maintaining this French language quotidien.* Thank you for visiting the "Books" section in the right hand column.

gratter (gra-tay) verb
  1. to scratch or scrape
  2. to strum (guitar)
  3. to strike (match)

Hear the verb gratter pronounced: Download gratter.wav

Also:
le gratte-ciel = skyscraper
le gratte-dos = backscratcher
le gratte-papier = penpusher
le gratte-pieds = shoe-scraper

.....................
Expressions:
ça me gratte = it itches
une gratte = a guitar (slang)
faire de la gratte = to make an illicit profit
gratter quelques francs = to earn a bit on the side
gratter les fonds du tiroir = to scrape the bottom of the barrel
tu peux te gratter = (you can scratch yourself) = forget about it! go on and dream!

..................
Proverb:
Gratte mon dos et je gratterai le tien.
Scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.


.......................................
A Day in a French Life....

(Don't miss the story that originally appeared here, now a part of this book!)

....................
*References:
le quotidien (m) = daily (newspaper);
la pelouse (f) = grass;
Manou = endearment for the name "Emmanuelle";
le gazon (m) = grass or lawn;
for-me-dah-bluh (pronounciation for "formidable") adj = great;
le paysage (m) = landscape;
tchatcher = to chat;
une chaise longue (f) = a deck chair;
gratte for it (franglais) = scrape (save) or work for it

...............................
Quand la démangeaison d'écrire saisit un homme, rien ne peut le guérir que le grattement de la plume. / When the itch to write seizes a man, nothing can cure him except the scratching of a pen. --Samuel Lover

Dictionary of French Slang and Colloquial Expressions lists approximately 4,500 common slang words and colloquial expressions. Entries include grammatical information, the definition in English, a sentence or phrase to illustrate usage, and an English translation of the example and, where applicable, a corresponding English slang expression. Each entry also identifies the word or phrase by type: student or youth slang, political slang, literary slang, and criminal and drug-related slang.

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


marrant

          Moulin = mill (c) Kristin Espinasse
                           The town of Trans-en-Provence

marrant,e (ma-rahn, ma-rahnt) adjective
  1. funny
  2. odd

Hear my son Max pronounce "marrant" and "marrante": Download marrant.wav

...............
Expressions:
C'est un marrant = He's a scream
Ce n'est pas marrant = It's not funny

.....................
Citation du Jour:
C'est marrant, je m'entends bien avec tous mes ennemis. Ce sont eux qui ne s'entendent pas bien avec moi.

It's funny, I get along well with all my enemies. It is they who don't get along well with me.
-Julien Féret

......................................
A Day in a French Life...

Editing these missives is always an amusing task when using an automatic spell checker. My Outlook Express program has an English spell checker and each time it encounters a word it does not know (read: French) the term is highlighted and a few suggestions are given; the conclusions are often marrants.*

I thought I would share a few of the results--the English suggestions for the French words--with you today, along with a little commentaire.*

The following results are rather à propos:*

     For "bain" (bath)... suggest..."basin"
     True, we do take a "bath" in a basin.

     For "enterrement" (burial)... suggest..."retirements"
     That's one way to look at it...

     For "sou" (penny)... suggest..."soup"
     Or, when you don't have a lot of "pennies" you eat a lot of
     soup...


And some spell check results that are just plain funny!

     For "connard"...suggest..."canard"
     If only idiots were ducks...

     For "pastis"...suggest..."pasties"
     The first is an anise-flavored alcoholic drink, the second an
     accoutrement for topless dancers

     For "soins" (care) ....suggest..."sins"
     Ever feel sinful when you're receiving "soins" or beauty
     treatments?


And my favorite--the all-time best (and one that I encounter often):

     For "maman" (mom) ....suggest... "madman"
     (Hmmm...maybe I should have put this one under the "à
     propos" heading...


...................
*References: à propos = appropriate; un commentaire (m) = comment

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


une bête

      Jackietoasting
                            Jackie (toasting with her papa)

une bête (beht) noun, feminine
  1. an animal; a bug

adjective: stupid, silly, foolish, idiotic

Hear the word bête pronounced: Download bete.wav

Also:
une bête à bon dieu = a ladybug
une bête féroce = a wild animal

.....................
Expressions:
une pauvre petite bête = a poor little guy/thing
une bête noire = a pet peeve
chercher la petite bête = to nitpick
..........................
French Proverb:
On prend les bêtes par les cornes et les hommes par les paroles.
We take beasts by their horns and men by their words.


(Oxen are trapped by their horns and men by their words.)

......................................
A Day in a French Life...

Jackie and I sit hunched over the table eating juicy pastèques* and swatting at, but not maiming, les mouches.*

My daughter wears a mismatched maillot de bain.* She has at least three press-on tattoos (the free gift inside 3 individually wrapped squares of bubble gum) on her arms and plastic rings on her forefingers. Her wrists tinkle from so many faux gold bracelets. She tucks a lock of green (pool-tinted) hair behind an ear as she eats.

"Where is the tapette à mouche?*" she says.
"Je ne tue pas les bêtes," I remind her, shooing more flies away. It's true, I don't kill bugs.

It is sweltering outside and so we take refuge in our cool, if un-air-conditioned salon.* Half of the table is cluttered with Jackie's drawings so I have to push pens, pencils, stickers and erasers aside to make room for le déjeuner.*

Lunchtime conversation revolves around les bêtes:

"Listen, Jackie... What do you hear?"
"Les oiseaux," she says, matter-of-factly.
"No. Those aren't birds. Those are bêtes!"
"No. Fourmis* and cafards* don't make that noise!"
"Those aren't ants or roaches either!"

I pause for a moment and consider just what kind of noise ants and roaches make anyway. Perhaps if their sound were magnified to so many screeching decibels, it might just resemble the screaming cicada trills we are listening to now.

The racket outside is getting so loud that we have to shout over the pastèques:

"As-tu jamais vu une cigale,* Jackie?"
"What?"
"Have you ever seen a cicada?"
"Non. Je ne crois pas..."*

I've never really seen a live one either. But from the sound of things, I have deduced that a cigale must look something like a cross between a Brazilian maraca and a lethargic automatic lawn sprinkler.

.....................
*References: une pastèque (f) = a watermelon; une mouche (f) = a fly; un maillot de bain (m) = a bathing suit; une tapette à mouche (f)  = a fly swatter; le salon (m) = the living room; le déjeuner (m) = lunch; une fourmi (f) = an ant; un cafard (m) = a cockroach; une cigale (f) = a cicada; Je ne crois pas = I don't believe so

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


le fleuve

         Pont = Bridge (c) Kristin Espinasse
             A bridge in Callas, France (similar to the one in today's story)

un fleuve (fluhv) noun, masculine
1. river

adjective: lengthy, interminable

Hear the word "fleuve" pronounced: Download fleuve.wav

...................
Expressions:
un roman-fleuve = a saga (novel)
un discours fleuve = a lengthy speech

.........................
Citation du Jour:
Le temps est comme un fleuve, il ne remonte pas à sa source.
Time is like a river, it does not return back to its source.
--Rivarol

......................................
A Day in a French Life...

(Do not miss the story that originally appeared here, along with the vocabulary below. Order the book!)

.................
*References: le pont (m) = bridge; doucement = easy does it; cheval (chevaux) (m) = horse; kan-oh-ay = pronunciation for (le) canoë (canoe); à pied = on foot; la libellule (f) = dragonfly; le caneton (m) = duckling; le nénuphar (m) = water-lily; le fleuve (f) = river; le papillon (m) = butterfly; le peuplier (m) = poplar, aspen tree; vidaubanais = of Vidauban (small town in the Var region of
France); à sa façon = in her own way

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


une collation

         Sandwichman
                                          Jean-Marc

une collation (ko-lah-syon) noun, feminine
  1. a snack, light meal

Hear the word collation pronounced: Download collation.wav

French synonyms: un en-cas, un goûter, un quatre-heures, une bouchée, le casse-croûte

.........................
Citation du Jour:
La vie n'est pas un restaurant mais un buffet. Levez-vous pour vous servir.
Life is not a restaurant but a buffet. Stand up to serve yourself.
                                                               -
-Dominique Glocheux

......................................
A Day in a French Life...

On our third day in Paris I ask the hotel manager once again for a sèche-cheveux.*

"They've all been checked out, madame."
"How many hair dryers do you have for loan?"
"Quatre, madame."*
"How many rooms do you have in this hotel?"
"Three hundred and fifty-five, madame."

I leave the front counter and walk through the lobby toward the breakfast buffet. The man behind the podium holds one palm up and asks me for my room number. "Trois cent cinquante-cinq,"* I say. He searches the register until his pencil stops at "355" next to which he adds one vertical line beside the line that is already there. "Allez-y, madame."*

I join Jean-Marc at a table for two beside the coffee machine. As my hair drip-dries I watch my husband make sandwiches.
"Have you eaten?" I say.
"Oui."

Jean-Marc is seated before a plate of jambon* and fromage,* two things the French do not eat for le petit déjeuner;* such buffet items are geared toward international clientele and attract certain snack-savvy Frenchmen (a second breakfast market that I don't think hotel management has anticipated).

Jean-Marc saws open a croissant then stuffs one slice of ham and one flat square of glue-toned cheese inside. Next, he rolls the sandwich into a napkin marked "IBIS" and places it beside the growing line of would-be goûters.* I do not pull my hair forward to shield crimson cheeks. I've come to terms with my Frenchman's canteen crimes. It used to bother me, but then I am responsible for the food heists. Since visiting the States, where he first learned about doggie bags, my husband truly sees a future (read: forthcoming afternoon snack) in excess restaurant food.

When the plate is empty and all the ham and cheese is tucked into the croissants, he searches for a makeshift emporte-restes.* I suggest he roll the sandwiches in the Figaro newspaper to his left. I hope he'll speed up this process, as I am still somewhat uncomfortable with taking extra food from the buffet.

"Go ahead--use the newspaper!" I say. He scrunches his nose as if it is literally distasteful to wrap sandwiches in newspaper. "We do this back home," I say, hoping to convince him.

Jean-Marc gathers the sandwiches and walks over to the front desk to ask for a doggie bag. When the Italian couple at the next table exchange smirks and the podium man's palms begin to sweat, I hide my face behind a damp blond screen, scurry past the buffet, through the automatic doors and out onto sunny rue Bréguet. (To dry my hair, of course.)

.....................
*References: le sèche-cheveux = hair dryer; Quatre, madame = Four, Madam; trois cent cinquante-cinq = three hundred and fifty-five; Allez-y, madame = Go ahead, Madam; le jambon (m) = ham; le fromage (m) = cheese; le petit déjeuner (m) = breakfast; le goûter (m) = snack; l'emporte-restes (m) = take-out (doggie) bag (l'emporte-restes is not a common term)

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


la laine

Laine = wool (c) Kristin Espinasse
           
la laine (len) noun, feminine
  1. wool

Hear today's word: Download laine.wav

.....................
Expressions:
tirer la laine = to steal
se laisser tondre la laine sur le dos = "to allow oneself to be fleeced" (to let people take advantage of you)

.........................
Citation du Jour:
La raison rétrécit la vie, comme l'eau rétrécit les tricots de laine.
Reason shrinks life, like water shrinks wool sweaters
. --René Barjavel

........................................
A Day in a French Life...

Those sly Parisian women, coming up with a new mode* and changing all the fashion rules just when a trying-to-fit-in tourist least expects it. Who could have guessed that wool caps and lined gloves were de rigueur* in July -- only two weeks after the capital's heat wave?

As I ride the Paris métro from la Bastille toward les Champs-Élysées, my eyes scan the female passengers. I see a woman in suede boots and another nana* in a wool blazer. The lady reading a Folio paperback has her chin tucked into the scarf which covers her from collar to earlobe. Even the French children co-conspire to leave me fashion-flummoxed with their layered tops and knee-high chaussettes en laine.*

I arrived in Paris over the week-end toting a sundress and a spaghetti-string top (among other impracticals) when the Parisian women pulled the fashion carpet out from beneath my flip-flopped feet.

There, shivering among the shawl-wearers, I did a one hundred and eighty degree fashion about-face. But then, speaking of degrees, it must be said that the temperature had dropped considerably. Perhaps the Parisians aren't so much fashion innovistas as they are frileuses.*

...............................................................................................
*References: prêt-à-porter = ready-to-wear; la mode (f) = fad; de rigueur = required by fashion; une nana (f) = a woman; les chaussettes en laine (f) = wool socks; frileuse, frileux (adj)= sensitive to cold

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


pagaille

         Pagaille
            Shutters "en pagaille" in Bagnols-en-Forêt (Var, France)

une pagaille (pah-geye) noune, feminine
  1. a mess, shambles, chaos

Hear the word pagaille: Download pagaille.wav

............................
Expressions:
quelle pagaille! = what a mess!
mettre la pagaille = to mess things up

.............................
Citation du Jour:
Il vaut mieux avancer dans la pagaille que piétiner dans l'ordre.
It is better to advance with the mess than to trudge through order.--
Claude Fitoussi

......................................
A Day in a French Life...
At a villa in Marseille, in the hostess's bathroom, I am delighted to find a stack of women's magazines. I decided a while back that the French women I like most, those with whom I suspect I will find true camaraderie, are the gals that read in the le petit coin.* More specifically, the gals that don't bother to hide the fact that they read in the bathroom, that don't, say, before a dinner party, snap up the magazines, hiding evidence as they go about tidying the W.C.*  Finding an Elle, a Redoute catalogue or Femme Actuelle* is always a heartening experience.

Typically it is beauty or intelligence that intimidates. While I am awed by those things, order and meticulousness (in others) frighten me most. A composed, well-mannered French woman can make me feel mal à l'aise,* as they say in France.

So I admit that I find myself rejoicing when I come across what I can only describe as "French slips," those moments when a French woman's guard is down--and the blips and bloopers that ensue--are what truly disarm me about les Françaises.*

A woman "of a certain age" passes me on the autoroute.* The driver exudes chic: tinted sunglasses, bien coiffée,* silk scarf flowing in the wind. I smell a hint of Hermès as she whizzes by my little Hyundai. There is just one pépin* in her well-composed image: the 12-pack of PQ* on the window ledge of her Renault sedan. She is apparently on her way back from the market with a whole carload of cheap pink toilet paper, in view of everyone. "Quelle image!"* I think, as I watch her drive by, lips glossed, eyebrows arched, papier toilette* in tow.

At a pottery boutique in a nearby village I ring the bell before stepping into the shop. "Il y a quelqu'un? " (Anyone in?), I say. A frazzled Frenchwoman appears. Her shirt is on inside out; the ragged seams scream out her gaffe. "Ah! I'm not the only one," I think to myself. Just a week earlier I had discovered, during a photo session at a wedding, sales tags (including the bright red markdown price) jutting from my blouse. The picture of grace.

The French lady in line at SuperU* turns and I see that the button of her skirt has popped off. Three or four strings now hang where once there used to be a faux tortoise-shell closure. I notice she has a run in her stockings as well. A two-for-one French blooper.

It is not that I gloat in some sort of one-upwomanship at these humbling predicaments of other women, only that I relate well to such style mishaps and, in relating, feel more secure.

On a trip back to the states a few years ago, I exited a bathroom stall in New York's JFK International airport to find a woman washing her hands. For a moment I hoped she might mistake me for a Frenchwoman, that my time spent in France might have me exuding that je-ne-sais-quoi a real French woman possesses.

"Excuse me," the lady said, addressing me via the mirror.

She wants to ask me something about France, I remember thinking. She must have a question about Paris, some tip she wants to know. Perhaps I look like a journalist, a jet-setter. I am delirious with the alter ego possibilities.

"Oui? I mean, Yes?" I answer.

Instead of asking a question she points into the mirror. I follow the tip of her finger to the trail of toilet paper coming from the stall behind me. Then I realize, to my horror, that the trail reaches me, climbs my leg and disappears into my jacket. My overenthusiastic approach to paper-lining the
toilet seat has literally caught up to me.

I hope the incident was disarming to her, comforting even, and that any latent feelings of insecurity she might have had were effectively zapped, at my toilet-paper-trailing expense.

Vive la pagaille!*

.................
References: le petit coin (m) = the toilet room (bathroom); le W.C. (m) = the Water Closet (toilet room); Elle = She (magazine title); Femme Actuelle = Today's Woman (magazine title); mal à l'aise = ill-at-ease; Françaises (f pl) = Frenchwomen; autoroute (f) = freeway; bien coiffé/e = with a nice hairstyle; le pépin (m) = hitch (literally, a seed); PQ (slang) (m) = toilet paper; Quelle image! = What a sight!; papier toilette (m) = toilet paper; SuperU = a grocery store; Vive la pagaille! = Here's to chaos!

Dictionary of French Slang and Colloquial Expressions lists approximately 4,500 common slang words and colloquial expressions. Entries include grammatical information, the definition in English, a sentence or phrase to illustrate usage, and an English translation of the example and, where applicable, a corresponding English slang expression. Each entry also identifies the word or phrase by type: student or youth slang, political slang, literary slang, and criminal and drug-related slang.

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
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aubade

                      Aubade_1

aubade (oh-bahd) noun, feminine
  1. dawn serenade
  2. French lingerie company with a popular advertising campaigne involving a series of lessons on seduction--see today's story

...............................
A Day in a French Life...

             * Encounters with a two-timing noun *

You could say she led a double life. By day, she stalked me along every French street, especially as I sat waiting for bus number 19 at Castellane or bus number 7 along Boulevard Perrier back in the windy city of Marseilles. Wind works to her advantage, mind you. A little whirl of air here, a gust there and la voilà--there she was en live* (when she wasn't towering over me suggestively from one of the billboards she called home).

She was always dressed in lace or silk or fishnet. Up until a few days ago, it was underwear that defined her. Nothing more. She did have a name, and to pronounce it you'd say Oh bad! (Fitting, non?)

Like I said, she was meaningless to me and I could not see beyond her satin balconnets.* She was an object, nothing more. She was hoopla, not human.

It did not occur to me to look her up or to query her meaning. No use trying to talk sense into her. Besides, she was always handing out lessons, suggestive stuff like:

"Leçon no. 3:
Placer quelques obstacles dans son chemin."
(Place a few obstacles in his path.)

"Leçon no. 4:
Lui rappeler combien vous êtes fragile."
(Remind him how fragile you are.)

"Leçon no. 5:  Feindre l'indifférence."
(Feign indifference.)

"Leçon no. 10: Poser le piège et attendre"
(Set a trap and wait.)

"Leçon no. 45: Lui offrir votre coeur"
(Offer him your heart.)

I paid no attention to her lessons. "Marketing!" said I, reminded of the fact that "s" "e" "x"  sells.

Then the other day, I ran into her in the most unlikely of places: a popular word hangout that I frequent. There she was, this time out of the limelight and in between the sheets. Ha! I knew I'd catch her there, tôt ou tard.* I just didn't expect to find her wrapped in paper and bound among thousands.

I had opened the door to my word hangout (the name of the joint is Le Petit Larousse) and happened to be flipping through its two thousand bound sheets, when I did a double-take on page 97.

           "Aubade"

Aubade... Oh bad! There she was. And that's how I discovered my usual lace-clad stalker to be not just a frilly nana* but a French noun! A two-timing noun at that. While to me (and most of France) she meant underwear, to the word-savvy underground she had a second life and a meaning all her own:

aubade (noun, feminine)
1. a dawn serenade


Now isn't she the most clever name for a lingerie company?

....................
*References: en live = live; balconnets (m) = half-cups (bra); tôt ou tard = sooner or later; la nana (f) = woman

More stories about my French life here (click on cover):

Book

Hear today's word: Download aubade.wav

...................
Expression:
donner une aubade à quelqu'un = to serenade somebody at dawn

........................
Citation du Jour
Nul ne peut atteindre l'aube sans passer par le chemin de la nuit. One may not reach the dawn save by the path of the night. --Khalil Gibran

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California