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enregistrement

Il sera un homme un jour...He'll be a man one day

Today's column has been recorded for you by my ten-year-old son, Max. Enjoy!

Si

(see)

if


As promised, the inspiring words my friend Martine (meet her here, page 31) read to me, written by Rudyard Kipling in 1895 and translated into the French by André Maurois in 1918 (the English words follow) (Actually, Maurois' offering is a rendition, not a translation, and some prefer his version to the original!). 

Audio for this poem: To hear Max's recording, Download MP3


"Si—"

Si tu peux voir détruit l'ouvrage de ta vie
Et sans dire un seul mot te mettre à rebâtir,
Ou perdre d'un seul coup le gain de cent parties
Sans un geste et sans un soupir ;
Si tu peux être amant sans être fou d'amour,
Si tu peux être fort sans cesser d'être tendre
Et, te sentant haï, sans haïr à ton tour,
Pourtant lutter et te défendre ;

Si tu peux supporter d'entendre tes paroles
Travesties par des gueux pour exciter des sots,
Et d'entendre mentir sur toi leurs bouches folles
Sans mentir toi-même d'un seul mot ;

Si tu peux rester digne en étant populaire,
Si tu peux rester peuple en conseillant les rois
Et si tu peux aimer tous tes amis en frère
Sans qu'aucun d'eux soit tout pour toi ;

Si tu sais méditer, observer et connaître
Sans jamais devenir sceptique ou destructeur,
Rêver, mais sans laisser le rêve être ton maître,
Penser sans n'être qu'un penseur ;

Si tu peux être dur sans jamais être en rage,
Si tu peux être brave et jamais imprudent,
Si tu sais être bon, si tu sais être sage
Sans être moral ni pédant ;

Si tu peux rencontrer Triomphe après Défaite
Et recevoir ces deux menteurs d'un même front,
Si tu peux conserver ton courage et ta tête
Quand tous les autres les perdront,

Alors les Rois, les Dieux, la Chance et la Victoire
Seront à tout jamais tes esclaves soumis
Et, ce qui vaut bien mieux que les Rois et la Gloire,
Tu seras un homme, mon fils.

(traduction d' André Maurois)

"If—"

  If you can keep your head when all about you
  Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
  If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
  But make allowance for their doubting too;
 
  If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
  Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
  Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
  And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

  If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
  If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
  If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
  And treat those two imposters just the same;

  If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
  Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
  Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
  And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

  If you can make one heap of all your winnings
  And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
  And lose, and start again at your beginnings
  And never breathe a word about your loss;

  If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
  To serve your turn long after they are gone,
  And so hold on when there is nothing in you
  Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

  If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
  Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;
  If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
  If all men count with you, but none too much;

  If you can fill the unforgiving minute
  With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
  Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
  And—which is more—you'll be a Man, my son!

                                       —Rudyard Kipling

Comments
To share your thoughts about this poem, or the recording, click here for the comments box.  


French, France, armed forces, uniform, camouflage, military, ceremony www.french-word-a-day.com (c) Kristin Espinasse
Our son, in a French military ceremony. Read about Max's recensement militaire, in this story from 2011. 

Take a moment to share this post with a friend, who might the inspirational poem or French translation.

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


"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.


toc

French door (c) Kristin Espinasse 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue door in the medieval village of Les Arcs-sur-Argens (Var)

toc-toc

(tok-tok) 

knock knock




Everything about Martine could be known by her knock: unhesitating, energetic, persistent. It was the kind of knock a policeman might use: "Toc-toc-toc! I know you're in there. Come out, come out!"

Though law-abiding, Martine was always on the run. "I passed by your house last night," she'd say, "on my way home from work. Your shutters were open so I closed them for you." I guessed she had figured out that my husband was away a lot on business and that I needed a reminder to lock up my windows for the night as the villagers do. 

When Martine wasn't watching over my home, she was filling it. She brought the children strawberries from the farmers' market and she brought me fresh cabbage—then stayed to stuff and bake it.

"It's good, isn't it?" she'd say, of the stuffed chou. "You love it! It is delicious!" While I ate, she would set about reorganizing my frigo. "All of the condiments go here!" she'd say, gathering the ketchup and the pickles and the tapenade from the back of the fridge and placing them in the door compartments.  

If I complimented her on her dress, she would straighten her five-foot frame, hold her head high, and raise her hand with a flourish. "Je suis belle, non? Just look at me! Bella!"

Her teeth, one slightly and charmingly bent over the other in front, were always showing, because her mouth was always smiling. She was Italian with a dark complexion, her hair was bleached light, her makeup heavy, and her figure—which she decorated with pride—somewhere in between. Martine did not have hang-ups or low self-esteem; she had no time to question or to second-guess. Like her knock—Toc-toc-toc! Come out, come out!—she was direct.

"Get in the car!" she ordered, when personal doubts had begun to consume me. Struggling as a young mother, an étrangère, and a wife, I decided I had nothing to lose by allowing this colorful new friend to steer me out of my tristesse.

Martine drove, speeding across the countryside and over a narrow bridge—edging so close to the guardrail that I shrieked, "Martine!" When I had recovered from the fright, I turned to my friend:

"How do you know you're not going to hit that rail? How can you judge so well?"

"Ce n'est rien! You just need to take driving lessons, know the size of your car—sois confiante!"

True, I thought, forgetting about the guardrail and remembering my earlier self-doubts. It was high time, now, to step confidently into some of the new roles that I had been given since moving to France. Wife, mother, French resident... the ability to fully carry out these roles was there, somewhere, inside of me. I just needed to let go of that guardrail and have confiance

When we had cleared the bridge, Martine abruptly pulled the car over and reached past me to the glove compartment, from which she produced a folded piece of paper.

"Écoute bien," she said. "I am going to read you something...."



                                           *     *     *

(In the next edition: the famous words Martine shared. Click here.)


YOUR EDITS PLEASE
Did you see any typos in this story? Thanks for pointing them out, here.

 

French Vocabulary

toc-toc-toc = knock knock knock

le chou = cabbage

le frigo = fridge

la tapenade = pureed olive spread

je suis belle, non? = I am beautiful, aren't I?

un étranger, une étrangère = foreigner

la tristesse = gloominess

ce n'est rien = it's nothing (it's easy)

sois confiant(e) = be confident

écoute bien = listen closely

la confiance = confidence 


...........................................................
Listen: Hear the word "toc" pronounced Download toc.wav

Quand une porte se ferme, une autre s'ouvre. When one door closes, another one opens. --Miguel de Cervantès
.
Expressions:
Toc, toc. Qui est là? = Knock, knock. Who's there?
et toc! = so there
il est un peu toc toc, celui-là = he's a little crazy, that one

Toc (noun, masculine) can also mean "trash, junk":
  en toc = fake (gem)
  C'est du toc = It's fake
  Ça fait toc = It looks fake

Download martine.wav

Also, the capital letters 'TOC' stand for "troubles obsessionnels compulsifs" ("obsessive compulsive troubles").
.......................................................................................................
  Words in a French Life - order it here.
.......................................................................................................

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


"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.


sondage

Sondageun sondage (sohn-dazh) n.m.
  poll, survey ; dig, drilling (hole)

Un sondage n'est pas un substitut à la réflexion. A public-opinion poll is no substitute for thought. --Warren Buffett

A Day in a French Life...
I looked out the window and saw him standing in a cloud of smoke. After he had finished lighting his cigarette he rang the sonnette* next to my mailbox.

"Je peux vous aider?" Can I help you? I said, stepping out of the house.
"C'est pour un sondage," it's for a survey, he replied.
"Non, merci," I said, automatically.

Next, my conscience intervened with these words directed at the sondeur:* "What are the questions about and how long will it take?" When he answered "automobiles" and "forty-five minutes" my conscience turned to me and said "Débrouille-toi!" you're on your own! and went back inside the house.

The questioner stood there watery-eyed and unshaven, looking more fugitive than inquisitive. There was a time when I would have seen an innocent Frenchman standing at the gate but now that some of the romance of France has worn off I see the French for who they really are--human: good, bad, kind, cranky, helpful and, at times, harmful... on this last point, I reacted:

"Forty-five minutes? I am sorry, but I do not have the time." With that, the sondeur took a long drag on his clope,* uttered a few words of disappointment and walked off, leaving me with my guilt.

"Do you think you are more important than he?" my conscience asked, meeting me back at the door and stepping up onto my right shoulder. "Why is your time more precious than his?" 

The telephone rang and, with steps as heavy as my spirit, I went to answer it. "Mommy, can you come and pick me up now?" Max asked at the other end of the line.

"You see!" I reassured myself, on my way to the car, "you couldn't have answered that man's questions anyway." And off I drove, the diable* chatting in my ear from his chaise-longue,* over there on the opposite shoulder.

...................................................................................................................
References: la sonnette (f) = doorbell; le sondeur (la sondeuse) = pollster; la clope (f) = cig (cigarette); le diable (m) = devil; la chaise longue (f) = deckchair

..................................................................
Listen:
hear my son, Max, pronounce the word 'sondage': Download sondage.wav

Also:
un sondage d'opinion = opinion poll
faire un sondage = to take a poll
un sondage par téléphone = a telephone poll

In books: Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Spoken French

'Words in a French Life'. Ask for it at your local bookstore or order it here.

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


"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.


printemps

Printemps by Jackie (c) Jean-Marc Espinasse Photo: my 8-year-old, Jackie, collected these flowers and made the vase... the poppy flew off before her father snapped the picture.

le printemps (pran-tahn) noun, masculine = spring

Il y a des pluies de printemps délicieuses où le ciel a l'air de pleurer de joie. There are delightful spring rains wherein the sky seems to be weeping for joy. --Paul-Jean Toulet

A Day in a French Life...
Opening my front door I see the end of winter. While the groggy old oaks are still leaf bare, the abricotier* and almond trees are covered with the blossoms of spring. The dogwood beside our garage trembles as a crimson-chested rouge-gorge* delights in hopping from branch to branch causing a flurry of pink petals to fall and carpet the earth below with sweet-scented confetti. Joining the fête* are the sunshine yellow pissenlit* which spread their cheer across the lawn. Further down the lane the fun continues with the tipsy coquelicots* now hanging from the stone walls; soon they will cover the fields beyond.

I envy the feathered and petaled merrymakers who bring the dull countryside to life while I remain sluggish to give up this cozy hibernal shell. At once yearning for the soleil,* I cling to the coziness of winter and early evenings spent fireside.

Stepping out of the house, I see the dwindling woodpile--only five logs left to burn. A trail of ants leads into the house as if to coax me out of it. The campanile sounds and my thoughts turn to the village where my neighbors are giving up their winter shells: shutters are opening and blankets are airing from the second floor windows; below, the cafés now stretch out over the trottoir* along with an end of winter yawn. And just like a contagious yawn, so is the merrymakers' excitement for spring which pulls me over to the dogwood and under its shower of pink petal confetti now tickling my toes.

..................................................................................................................
References: un abricotier (m) = apricot tree; le rouge-gorge (m) = robin; la fête (f) = party; le pissenlit (m) = dandelion; le coquelicot (m) = poppy; le soleil (m) = sun; le trottoir (m) = sidewalk

Listen
: hear Jean-Marc pronounce the word 'printemps': Download printemps.wav

Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France"...a heart-winning collection from an American woman raising two very French children with her French husband in Provence, carrying on a lifelong love affair with the language."

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


"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.


ordonnance

Pharmacy poster image by Andre Renoux

A Publishers Weekly review for 'Words in a French Life' has just been posted! See "Editorial Reviews" at: http://publishers-weekly.notlong.com.

une ordonnance (or-doh-nahns) nf = prescription; arrangement ; order, ruling (judge)

Un beau désordre vaut mieux qu'une inerte ordonnance. A good disorder is better than a lifeless arrangement. --Eugène Savitzkaïa

A Day in a French Life...
The two wicker chairs in the pharmacy are prise* and so I take my place in the queue* which winds back to the curative tea section, near the entrance.

The teenagers in line ahead of me are French-kissing, causing me to blush and hide my face so as not to embarrass them back. A woman "of a certain age" walks in and my troubles shift from lust to politesse* as I become concerned about how to discreetly give up my place in line; if I offer it, Madame might be offended--as if I had decided that she is old and feeble. Before I fret further, Madame edges forward and eventually gets ahead of me so that when the next register frees up all I have to do is let her have it.

Finally it is my turn. I hand over my ordonnance* and the pharmacist squints her eyes trying to decode the doctor's gribouillage* before pulling out drawers and opening cupboards to locate the "cures". As I wait, my eyes pour over the druggist's shelves and, once again, I am reassured to know that the French are flawed.

From ballonnements* to bad breath, indigestion to ingrown toenails, flat hair to foot odor, pellicules* to pimples, weight to warts, hair loss to hemorrhoids--their humbling ailments are as far-reaching as the pharmaceutical shelves.

Blistered, bloated and downright bugged (as evidenced by one entire shelf of poux* remedies) the glamorous French have not been spared. And while these hiccups to French perfection are spotlighted and screaming from pharmacy displays, the sprays, balms and bandages whisper the ordinary folkness of the French and I am now soothed and less alienated in this foreign land. Speaking of alien, my eyes return to the French kissers at the next register, who are positively over the moon.

..................................................................................................................
References: pris(e) (prendre) = taken; la queue (f) = line; la politesse (f) = politeness; une ordonnance (f) = prescription; le gribouillage (m) = scrawl, scribble; le ballonnement (m) = bloating; les pellicules (fpl) = dandruff; les poux (m) = lice

Listen: hear Jean-Marc pronounce the word ordonnance: Download ordonnance2.wav
Expressions: rédiger une ordonnance = to fill a prescription

To read: Almost French: an Australian woman's adventure trying to fit in with the French

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


"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.


moche

Ecoleeclater_1

moche (mowsh) adjective
  1. ugly, dowdy; lousy, rotten; poor, shoddy

Parler est le plus moche moyen de communication. L'homme ne s'exprime pleinement que par ses silences. To speak is the most lousy means of communication. Man can only fully express himself by his silence. --San-Antonio

A Day in a French Life....
On the way home from my children's school we drive up the narrow one-lane road, passing before the dilapidated hen house whose inhabitants flew the coop decades ago. I roll down my window to enjoy the sound of the cascade just behind the old mill. It's a good day when no cars are descending the one kilometer passage, and we reach the top of the road in record time.

From the back seat, Max is complaining about the new kid at school, who he refers to as "Le Parisien."* Le nouveau* wears an earring and "acts all cool, when really he is MOCHE!"*

La Jalousie*--the so-called Green-Eyed Monster or "Monstre aux Yeux Verts" if you like, is alive, well and rearing its ugly head in our corner of southeast France, thinly disguised in the grumblings of my son.

Soon I learn that Mr. Moche can really "tire" or kick the ball; turns out he has been scoring a lot of soccer goals in the schoolyard and even when he misses, he shouts BEWT!*

Jackie and I are still nodding our heads in sympathy with Max when I pull the car into the driveway. Inside the house, we watch cartoons while eating sandwiches au jambon,* washing the sandwiches down with ice cold milk in which the kids have added mint syrup.

"So, tell me more about the Parisian, Max. Maybe you're just a little jealous?"
Max smiles into his plate, but he can't hide.
"Maybe that kid can kick the ball... just as good as you can?"
"Mais, non!"

I continue to probe until Max's grin grows so wide his ears lift. The smile wrinkles around his eyes deepen, forcing his lids mi-clos,* but I can still see that sparkle. And, bit by bit, my son looks a little less green-eyed, a little less monster. La jalousie, washed down, along with the mint-flavored milk.

................................................................................................
*References: le Parisien = the Parisian; le nouveau = the new (kid); moche = rotten; la jalousie (f) = jealousy; bewt (pronunciation for 'le but' ) goal (soccer); au jambon = with ham; mi-clos (adj) = half-closed

Words in a French Life: "...a heart-winning collection from an American woman raising two very French children with her French husband in Provence, carrying on a lifelong love affair with the language."

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


"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.


ainsi

  Mairie / Town hall in La Motte, France (c) Kristin Espinasse

In response to your questions...
                             ...quelques chiffres / some numbers concerning my book:

25.......the date, in April, in which 'Words in a French Life' ships from Amazon
02.......the date, in May, when the book will appear in US stores
304......pages in the Simon & Schuster edition (originally planned at 208 pages)
11.70...price (subject to change) when you buy it here
1000....thanks, or mille mercis for your supportive pre-orders!

ainsi (an-see) adverb
   in this way, like this; thus

"Exige beaucoup de toi-même et attends peu des autres. Ainsi beaucoup d'ennuis te seront épargnés." Demand a great deal from yourself and expect little from others. In this way you will be spared many cares. --Confucius

A Day in a French Life...

Thirty-two gaggling Gauls, their maîtresse,* and one American went to China... pour ainsi dire.*

For the voyage east, the little Gauls packed all the cicadas in a French summer into their chattering voices.

"Taisez-vous! Quiet down!" the maîtresse repeated as the school children filed onto the bus, fastened their ceintures* and traveled through their medieval French village, crossing its border, to the neighboring town of la Motte where they scrambled out of the bus to enter the 'Expo de Chine.'*

Once inside the exposition hall, which was decked with rice-paper lanterns and colorful umbrellas, the French children set out for a franco-chinois* cultural exchange; over the next two hours they would swap their poésie* for haiku, their cursive for calligraphy, their poodles for pandas, their gargoyles for dragons... But first, they would need to trade chaos for order. For that, the American--in her role as accompanying adult--spoke:

"Stop trying on the bamboo hats!"
"Stop opening the little nacré* boxes!"
"Don't touch the delicate rice paper!"
...et ainsi de suite.*

When this year's (field) trip was over, the American maman accompagnatrice* curled her shoulders forward in a discreet bow before the French maîtresse: in awe and with great respect for the teachers of the world.

.............................................................................................................
References: la maîtresse (f) = female teacher; pour ainsi dire = so to speak; la ceinture (f) = seat belt; Expo de chine = China Expo; franco-chinois = franco-chinese; la poésie = poetry; nacré = pearly; la maman accompagnatrice (f) = mother chaperone; et ainsi de suite = and so on...

Listen: hear Jean-Marc pronounce the word "ainsi": Download ainsi2.wav

Related Terms & Expressions:
ainsi que = as
ainsi soit-il = so be it
pour ainsi dire = so to speak, as it were

Books:
Teach your baby French: http://baby-french.notlong.com/
Teach your kids French:  http://child-french.notlong.com/

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


"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.


tourterelle

watercolor by Serge Nicolle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

les tourtereaux
(tohr-tewr-elle)noun, plural
lovebirds



Had you been one of the two turtledoves coo-cooing up high on the French telephone fil, you might have spotted another couple, sans plumes, on the patio below.

There, under an old tuile-roofed terrace, just beneath the sleeping bignonia vine, a man and a woman sat, close as the tourterelles on the line above, sharing a small patch of soleil at the end of a long rectangular table, on which their coffee cups rested.

"Tu n'as pas trop froid?" said he.
"No, and you?" said she.

Comme ça, they softly spoke, cooing to one another, each in his (and her) own language.

 

YOUR EDITS HERE
Is this short, intimate story something to keep--or something to delete? If it's a keeper, can you suggest edits? Many thanks in advance! Click here to add a correction or a comment.

 


French Vocabulary

le fil
wire, cable

sans plumes
without feathers

la tuile
tile

le bignonia
trumpet vine

la tourterelle
turtledove

le soleil
sun

tu n'as pas trop froid?
you're not too cold?

comme ça
like that

 

The following text will not be included in the book.

Listen to eight-year-old Jackie, pronounce the word 'tourterelle': Download tourterelle.wav

Synonyms for tourterelle: le pigeon, la colombe (dove), la palombe (ring-dove), le ramier (woodpigeon)

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


"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.


arnaquer

butter and cheese shop in old Salernes (c) Kristin Espinassearnaquer (ar-nah-kay) verb
  to cheat, swindle, rip off

Comme on serait meilleur, sans la crainte d'être dupe!

How much better we would be, without the fear of being fooled!
--Jules Renard

A Day in a French Life...

My 8- and 10-year-old lead me through the salon* to the dinner table, just opposite the fireplace. "OK, mommy, you can look now," Max says.

When I release my two-handed blindfold I see sweetness and light--the bright faces of two grinning gourmets and the fructose and sugar feast they have prepared. On the table are two jugs of flavored water. In one jug the water is forest green, in the other it is beet red from the over-measured amounts of syrup (mint and grenadine) that the kids have poured in. On each plate is a smile of unpeeled fruit--apple and orange eyes and a happy banana bouche.* In the center of the table, a glass bowl holds quartered strawberries with enough sucre* sprinkled on top to sweeten the devil.

"Sit down, Mommy," Max says. "Tu veux boire quelque chose? Would you like something to drink?"

When we are settled, Jackie asks her brother to pass the 'shon-tee-yee'.*
"But isn't it called 'crème fouettée'?" I say, pointing out the French word for pressurized cream (which is written across the can). The kids agree that I have a point there, but that 'shon-tee-yee' is what they and all their friends call it. Jean-Marc tells me that the term 'crème fouettée' is perhaps a bit 'vieux jeu'.
"Old-fashioned?" I reply, disappointed as only a language learner can be when another word has been plucked from her bag of tricks.

While Jackie divides up the strawberries, making sure we all have the same amount of fruit in our bowls ("pour ne pas se disputer," so as not to argue amongst ourselves," as the kids are fond of saying) Max delivers the news: "Maman, tu t'es fait bien arnaquer avec ces fraises! You were really ripped off with these strawberries. We had to throw half of them out!"

The strawberry swindle begins to eat at me as I realize that what looked ripe on top was, in reality, spotted and downright furry beneath. I ask Jackie to please pass me the canned shon-tee-yee where my finger will rest heavily on the plastic nozzle as I deal with frustration and loss the old-fashioned way--with extra helpings of cholesterol.

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References: le salon (m) = living room; la bouche (f) = mouth; le sucre (m) = sugar; shon-tee-yee (pronunciation for (la) chantilly = cream)

Listen to the word "arnaquer": Download arnaquer.wav

Terms:
une arnaque = a swindle
un arnaqueur, une arnaqueuse = a swindler, cheat
  synonyms for 'arnaqueur' include: un escroc (crook), un filou (rogue, cheat) and un voleur (thief)

Verb conjugation: j'arnaque, tu arnaques, il/elle arnaque, nous arnaquons, vous arnaquez, ils/elles arnaquent; past participle = arnaqué

Related books: "2000+ Essential French Verbs: Learn the Forms, Master the Tenses, and Speak Fluently!"

Tune Up Your French: Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Spoken French

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Words_in_a_french_life Words in a French Life: "...a heart-winning collection from an American woman raising two very French children with her French husband in Provence, carrying on a lifelong love affair with the language."
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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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"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.


ciseau

my son Max Exciting update! You can now find out all about my new book at this website. Thank you for reading!

ciseau (see-zo) noun, masculine
  scissor, chisel
  (ciseaux = scissors)

Proverb:
Les dettes sont les ciseaux de l'amitié.
Debts are the scissors of friendship.


..............................
A Day in a French Life...
The woman across the table from me has hair the color of steeped red tea. Her thick, curly locks are gathered at the nape of her neck and loosely tied. Her name is Ouahida (pronounced why-dah) and she tells me her prénom* means "unique" in Tunisian. Ouahida and I are drinking Earl Grey at an Irish pub in the French Alps, but soon we will be transported to the wheat fields of Northern Africa where my friend's story begins...

Back in Tunisia, Ouahida's grandfather, being a landowner, was considered rich. On his land he cultivated blé* from which one of his wives made bread. One day, and for reasons unknown to Ouahida, her grandfather traded his scythe for scissors, quitting the wheat fields to work as the town's circumciser. With so many babies being born (Ouahida herself has nine brothers and sisters) there was plenty of work to be found in his new field.

Ouahida remembers her grandfather, who was never trained as a doctor, leaving for an appointment with his black bag, ciseaux* and rubbing alcohol. Often, the villagers were too poor to pay for the procedure, so they gave Ouahida's grandfather a fresh egg or a bit of lamb or a piece of cake from the accompanying celebration as payment and he was always invited to stay and drink the traditional tea, served with mint; inside the tea, roasted pine nuts were added when they could be afforded. Otherwise almonds or peanuts would do.

On days off, Ouahida's grandfather enjoyed a quiet stroll through his village. He was sensitive to noise so when the local kids made a racket all he had to do was hold up his hand and make "coup de ciseaux" or "clip clip" gestures and, like that, the children disappeared, faster than sweet mint tea on a hot summer's day.

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References: le prénom (m) = given name; le blé (m) = wheat; les ciseaux (m) = scissors
                                                 
Listen: Hear my son, Max, pronounce the word "ciseau": Download ciseau2.wav

Learn more about Tunisia, click on the book:

                                     

Terms and Expressions:
les ciseaux de jambes = leg scissors
faire des ciseaux = to do scissor kicks
sauter en ciseaux = to jump up and scissor the legs
ciseaux de brodeuse = embroidery scissors

Words_in_a_french_life Words in a French Life: "...a heart-winning collection from an American woman raising two very French children with her French husband in Provence, carrying on a lifelong love affair with the language."


Discover more delightful French idioms and expressions here:
http://french-idioms.notlong.com

More in books: Tune Up Your French: Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Spoken French

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


"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.