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Entries from May 2010

choper

Grignan Roses (c) Kristin Espinasse
A rose-lover's Shangri-la: the village of Grignan. (Just don't steal the flowers... or the sweetness.... read on in today's story column. 

choper (sho-pay) verb

    : to steal, to nib; to catch

Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc pronounce these French words (Download MP3 or Wav file)

Il a chopé un rhume / He caught a cold.
Elles ont chopé le sucre du bistro. / They nabbed the sugar.


Les Synonyms: dérober = to purloin chiper = to swipe, filch piquer = to pinch, to nick


A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

When your aunt and your uncle are in town for under a week... you've got to be picky and choosy about just which postcard pretty places you'll take them to see.

Grignan was a must! Its chateau, overlooking the vine-flanked valley, and its perched, rose-petaled village, were once the residence and the stomping grounds of Madame de Sévigné, who wrote prolifically to her fille. Picture so many words showering down from the chateau, falling like tears of joy, watering all those heirloom roses, from "Autumn Sunset" to "Gipsy Boy".

The flowers steal one's attention making it is easy to be attracted to this rose-rampant "rise" in the French sky. Their colorful petals pull your eyes up the narrow paths or calades, past the boutiques and the art galleries until you are overlooking the patchwork paysage of Provence. After your eyes expand over the valley, they are drawn back in to the skirt of the citadel, which bustles with café life.

There, at the Brasserie Le Sévigné my aunt, my uncle, and I sipped caffeine from colorful tasses de café. Feeling that after-lunch slump, we were content to let our ears do the walking and we listened as they bent here and there capturing the various conversations, most in French, though some were accented in English "city" or "country." I wondered if the two ladies at the next table were from London? Then again, what do I know about the topography of talk or "accentry"?

Finishing our cafe crèmes, we stood up to leave.  I called over to my aunt, motionning to the sugar packets before her (we were each served two packets with our cup. Having only used one-half of a sugar envelop I was slipping the rest into my purse. I had seen my aunt do the same at the previous café.... "Waste not, want not," she had explained, offering another of her affectionate winks. I figured I could give my aunt the extra sachets de sucre for her train trip to Paris the next day. (It is always good to have a little blood sugar boosting sucrose on hand when traveling.)

"And take that one, too!" I encouraged, pointing to the unused sugar packet in front of her. 
Just then, I caught sight of the English women at the next table. They were watching wide-eyed.

Caught red-handed, I had no choice but to finish shoving the second packet into my purse and I cringed when I realized the sugar envelope was open and showering down granulated sweetness, mixing with the contents of my purse.

My dear Aunt, her back to the would-be whistle-blowers, was unaware of our unseemly circumstance. "Here," she said, handing me her unused packet of sugar. Meantime my uncle voiced our actions, as my uncle is wont to do: "Oh, what's that? You are taking some sugar? I see."

The problem was, others were seeing too! And, what with my uncle's commentary, we were a terribly conspicuous trio.

"Put. It. In. Your. Pocket!" I snapped at my fellow sugar-snatcher. But my aunt stood there, her arm extended like a red flag, sugar packet waving like the drapeau of death. It seemed to take hours for that sugar packet to reroute itself into my aunt's pocket and I stood startled-eyed until the lightweight loot disappeared.

As we turned our backs on the café, my aunt overheard the condemning comment at the next table as one woman spoke in a disapproving tone, pointing out our petty theft to her table-mate. "They've taken the sugar," she reported.

Half-way to the getaway car and my aunt and I were giggling, "They've taken the sugar!" we laughed, lacing our voices with disappoving English accents. My uncle got into the back of the car, scratching his head in confusion, having missed the episode completely. Meantime, I started the engine and my aunt hopped into the passenger's seat and when she did she winked at me:

"I've got the sugar," she confirmed. "Hit it!"

With that, we peeled out of the pretty postcard town, bidding goodbye to a proper Madame de Sévigné and leaving, in the sugar dust, the would-be whistle blowers with their cups of unsweetened tea.

:: Le Coin Commentaires ::

Your comments are the best part of French Word-A-Day. Thank you for taking a minute to send feedback on this edition... or share an anecdote of your own. Click here to comment.

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A Day in a Dog's Life... by Smokey "R" Dokey
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DSC_0263
A wooden deck under construction... and two pooped contractors.

Smokey says: you haven't heard much about us lately, but that doesn't mean we haven't been busy... in a bucolic, sleepaholic way.

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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’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline


mauvais perdant

DSC_0365
Share these French words and photos with a friend: click here for a free email subscription. Today's photo: My fourteen-year-old fiston* on the beach in Giens (near Hyérès). He's eating "un sandwich baguette". Learn about another kind of baguette (en bois*), in today's story column. 

mauvais perdant (moh-vay pair-dahn)

    : sore loser

(feminine: une mauvaise perdante [moh-vayz pair-dahnt)

Audio File & Example Sentence:
Listen to my daughter, Jackie, pronounce the following French words:
Download MP3
or Download Mauvais perdant

Battu, il fut aussi mauvais perdant que ses adversaires étaient de piètres gagnants.
(Help translate this quote? Click here to share your interpretation.)

 

 

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 A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

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It is half-past seven in the evening. My stomach is rumbling, my head is a basket of butterflies, and I am wondering about what to cook for dinner... when my son walks into the room.

"On joue?"* Max offers.

A fun French mom might respond "Allez, chiche!"*; instead, a famished mom's eyes drop to the  small wooden box in her son's hands. Oh, no. C'est un jeu d'adresse*. I do not feel up to a game of skill, given these pre-dinner jitters and this fluttering brain.

That my son seems to find me a worthy opponent has me re-prioritizing. Hunger will have to hang on.

I look at the rectangular box of sticks and wonder what the rules are and will they be complicated? The name* on the box looks Japanese. So much for instructions! My stomach rumbles and my head spins.

"These colored bands," Max explains, pointing to the painted sticks, or baguettes, "correspond to the Samouraï bâton* and are worth ten points, and this one, un Mandarin, is worth 5...."

Oh no--points!--and more foreign terms... "Okay, okay. J'ai compris. Allons-y!"*

I have never liked games, ever since my Bridge*-busting, card-slinging grandmother-on-the-rocks called me a mauvaise perdante.* "Don't be such a poor sport!" She'd complain, under gin and tonic breath. The satisfaction on her face from winning another round of Go Fish, Slapjack, or, appropriately, Old Maid, was hard to miss. I gave up cards and signed up for a real sport: Little League Baseball. Cleats replaced cards, as I became pitcher for the Yankees, outfield for the A's -- and, oh! -- if those weren't the good ol' winning days!

"So, what do we do next?" I ask Max.  I sit on the floor, facing my opponent, legs tucked into a "pretzel" as I watch my son drop une poignée* of sticks. Dozens of spaghetti-thin batons fall to the floor in one chaotic heap.

Max explains the simple rules: "Tu dois déplacer une de ces baguettes sans déranger les autres."*

I stare at the tangled tas.* Every stick seems "stuck" to another. I am to pick up one of these sticks without disturbing the others?

"But that's impossible!" I point out, and my stomach growls in accord. "It's late. Why don't we eat dinner first?" Seeing the disappointed look on my son's face, it occurs to me that hunger will have to hang on, and on... just like those baguettes -- all three or four dozen of them.

"Just how does one pick up a stick without disturbing another?"

"With patience," Max encourages.
"Patience?"

And I, the impatient outfielder am awestruck -- by a young Frenchman who runs circles around me, philosophically, having hit another balle of wisdom out of the ball park. And he didn't even have to change sports, as others have tried, in order to find his stride.

(End)

*     *     *

(Encore)
"Oh, I guess that one moved..." I say, sad to have to give up the newly-seized stick in my hand.
"I didn't see anything..." Max assures.
"The sticks didn't move?"
"Like I said, I didn't see a thing...."
"Oh... thanks. Thanks, Max!"

(Like that, I managed to pick-up 18 sticks. Max picked up almost double that, sans déranger le tas.)

*     *     *

Le Coin Commentaires 

Comment, send a correction--or share your own story here. Merci beaucoup!

~~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary & References~~~~~~~~

le fiston (m) = son; en bois = in wood; on joue? = shall we play; allez, chiche! = Alright (Let's go), I'm game!; c'est un jeu d'adresse = it's a game of skill; name (of game) = (Max and I were playing "Mikado"); le bâton (m) = stick; J'ai compris. Allons-y = I've understood. Let's get going!; Bridge = the card game (also called "Bridge" in French => jouer au bridge = to play bridge); une mauvaise perdante = a sore loser; une poignée (f) = a fistful; Tu dois déplacer une de ces baguettes sans déranger les autres = you must move one of these sticks without upsetting the others; un tas (m) = heap, pile; la balle (f) = ball; sans déranger le tas = without upsetting the heap

Quote reference: Le Bulletin Des Recherches Historiques
 By Société des études historiques (Québec, Québec), Archives du Québec


DSC_0050

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    
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"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline


acrostiche

Poppies (c) Kristin Espinasse
A field of provençal poppies (near Bollène) for my mom, Jules.

acrostiche (akro-steesh) noun, masculine

  : acrostic


Here is a French definition, from Le Petit Larousse:

Acrostiche: pièce de vers composée de telle sorte qu'en lisant dans le sens vertical la première lettre de chaque vers on trouve le mot pris pour thème....

=> An acrostic is "a line of poetry composed in such a way that in reading, in the vertical direction, the first letter of each verse, we find the word used as a theme." (Also: a "telestich" spells out a term using the last letter in each word... and a "mesostich" does this using middle letters...)


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A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

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Note: the following story was written two years ago. Mother's Day 2010 (in France) is this Sunday, May 30th

***

Yesterday, Mother's Day here in France, began with a conversation in front of the micro-onde, where my daughter was heating up a cup of water.

"Do you know what today is?" I quizzed my second-born as I stood positively beaming in a frumpy robe and puffy pantoufles.*
"On est quel jour?" my ten-year-old quizzed back.

"I don't know... May 24th or fifth..." I replied impatiently, not one to let details rain on my parental parade. "Just guess. Devine quel jour on est!"

When my daughter looked confused, I upped my antics: widening not only my eyes but also my smile... and pointing exaggeratedly at my motherly profile. If I could have added flashing lights and honking horns to this miming display of maternity—bells, whistles, and even a foghorn—I would have. As it was, my daughter quickly caught on:

"La Fête des Mères!" Jackie correctly guessed. With that, she opened the microwave door, collected the cup of hot water, and offered it to me... along with some tea and honey. Next, from the garde-manger, where she had hidden it, she produced this hand-written acrostiche:

                  * M A M A N *

M -ajestueuse comme une hirondelle
A -ccueillante comme une musique
M -erveilleuse comme une abeille
A -gréable comme du parfum
N -aturelle comme une coccinelle.*


Studying the unbelievable choice of words, I wondered. How children can see such potential in us is, if not sublime, mysterious. I straightened up my posture, smoothed down my raggedy robe, and ran my fingers through a mop of hair. Re-reading my daughter's poem, I was struck by her vision of me. No longer frumpy or honking or absurd, there I stood: in her eyes I was as lovely as a ladybird.

:: Le Coin Commentaires ::

Comments, corrections, and/or stories of your own are welcome and enjoyed. Thank you for clicking here to leave a message.


~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~
la micro-onde
(f) = microwave; la pantoufle (f) = slipper; On est quel jour? = What's the date?; devine quel jour on est= guess what day it is!; la fête (f) des mères = Mother's Day; le garde-manger (m) = pantry

Jackie's acrostiche, translated: Maman (Mommy) : Magnificent like a swallow; Welcoming like music; Marvelous like a bee; Pleasant like perfume; Lovely as a ladybird."

AUDIO FILE: (listen to the word and poem in French)
Download MP3
. Download Wav



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In music: Le Phare by Yann Tiersen


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’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline


engueulade

Turkey
A couple of French turkeys, each pouting in his/her own corner après l'engueulade. Photo taken at Château Miraval, in 2005. Sign up for French Word-A-Day: it's free.

.
engueulade (ongh-lahd) noun, feminine

  1. argument, shouting match
  2. scolding


Also: a telling-off, bawling out, blowing up, chewing out or "a giving to another of one hell of a bad time". Get the picture?

"Arguing is to the modern Frenchman what thinking was to Descartes, a proof of existence....Vitupero ergo sum: I bicker, therefore I am." --from the book "Culture Shock! France" by Sally Adamson Taylor

Idioms & Expressions:
recevoir une engueulade = to be hauled over the coals (to be told off)

"Ils se sont quittés sur une engueulade. They parted after a stinking row."
--quote and translation from the Dictionary of French Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Henry Strutz

Listen to my daughter, Jackie, pronounce today's words and example sentence:
Download engueulade.mp3 . Download engueulade.wav.
..


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A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

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Note: the following taradiddle (now there's a fun new word—for me anyway...) was written two or so years ago.

***

When Jean-Marc and I were in Paris last month, we stayed at Florence and Olivier's love nest in the onzième. A "shopping list" posted on the fridge had me admiring the couple's 15-year-old recipe for amour.  Scribbled on a piece of paper were these essential ingredients for a happy union:

MA LISTE DES COURSES

- 1 kg de câlins
- 300 g de caresses
- 2 kg de tendresse
- 1/2 T de bisous
- 0 kg d'engueulades


"MY SHOPPING LIST"

- 1 kilo of cuddles
- 300 grams of caresses
- 2 kilos of tenderness
- 1/2 T of kisses
- 0 kilos of shouting

One thing that amused be about this list was the ingredient engueulades. But, of course! I thought, knowing all along that shouting somehow measures into real love. But just how much temper... tempers love? I wondered, rechecking the list of ingredients. That's when I noticed the zero allotment...

A little disheartened to realize that the Love Recipe was limited to only sweet ingredients (personally, our marriage "cake" has always included a good measure of salt), I had an inspiration....

I picked up a virtual crayon and crossed out that "0" as well as that "kilo". Next, having looked both ways and when the coast was clear, I scribbled in a new measurement in place of the "0":

"1 heaping, HOLLERING teaspoon!"

I may not be the best cook, but this is one recipe that I have been perfecting ever since cutting a frosty French wedding cake (with the help of my Sometimes Huffy Husband) a decade and a half ago.

Signed,
A Sometimes Hissy Housewife

:: Le Coin Commentaires ::

Comments are the best part of French Word-A-Day. Thank you for leaving yours here! Can't think of anything to write? How about listing a few of the ingredients that make up your recipe for happy relationships? We're listening!
 

~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
taradiddle = silly story (also "fib); le onzième (m) = the "eleventh" district or "arrondissement"; l'amour (m) = love; le crayon (m) = pencil 
Read: Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France




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  Toc toc-ing in Saint Tropez (c) Kristin Espinasse
Un heurtoir (doorknocker) in St. Tropez. 

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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 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline


amusette

  DSC_0054
Is going to the local café a favorite amusette of yours, as it is mine? For the purposes of this edition (we always need a purpose...) we're calling this restaurant a buvette. Read on in today's edition—by guest columnist "Newforest".


amusette (ah moo zet) noun, feminine

    : pastime, idle pleasure, diversion
    : a kind of fire arm

Audio File & Example Sentence: Download WAV or MP3

Le tricot est pour elle une amusette qui l'aide à se détendre.
Knitting is a pastime that helps her to relax.

 
....................................................................
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

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One of the many things that charms me about the French language is its penchant for puttin' on the Ritz or, plutôt, puttin' on the ettes. Have a look at these beauties or starlettes...

amourette, causette, lichette, risette, soeurette, and the uber-original saperlipopette!

If I have un petit faible (une faiblette?) for this language (languette?), if certain words are sweetly chouette, and certain sounds sharply shadowed comme une silhouette... the cause for this might just be that little suffix ette!

But don't be fooled, Mistinguette, the suffix "ette" doesn't necessarily make une petite banque "une banquette".  Read on in the following quiz or enquête, by Newforest (you may recognize Newforest from the comments box, where our Francophone friend continues to educate us on language etiquette. Merci, Newforest!) 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Les Diminutifs  by Newforest
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Are the following words "diminutifs” ? (See the answers at the end of this edition.)

1) Is “un livret” un petit livre? (a booklet)?

2) Is "une chouette" un petit chou? (a small cabbage)?

3) Is "une banquette" une petite banque (a small bank)?

4) Is "une barbichette" une petite barbe? (a small beard)?

5) Is "un porcelet" un petit porc/cochon? (a piglet)

6) Is "une baguette" une petite bague (a tiny ring)?

7) Is "une burette” un petit bureau (a small desk / or a little office)?

8) Is “une espagnolette" une petite femme espagnole? (a small size Spanish lady)?

9) Is "un têtard" une petite tête? (a small head)?

10) Is "un moucheron" une petite mouche (a baby fly)?



:: Le Coin Commentaires ::

Do  you love these ettes and would you like to share a few of your favorites? Click here to comment and, while your here, please help me to thank Newforest for the inspiration behind this post and for the helpful quiz.

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Selected French Vocabulary

une buvette = refreshment stand
plutôt = rather
une amourette = passing fancy
une causette = a little chat
une lichette = a tiny piece, a little taste ("a lick")
une risette = a little smile
une soeurette = a little sister
saperlipopette! = gadzooks!
un petit faible = a little weakness for, a crush
chouette! = great!
comme une silhouette = like a silhouette
Mistinguette = little missy, from actress and singer Jeanne Bourgeois a.k.a. Mistinguette

***

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  DSC_0021-1
A stroll down memory lane "Smokey & The Smokettes" (his five soeurettes :-)

RÉPONSES DU QUIZ sur les DIMINUTIFS

 

Here are the answers.

1)“un livret” = booklet, small book [diminutif de “livre”]

2)"une chouette" = barn owl [PAS diminutif de “chou”!]
By the way, “un hibou” = an owl (no liaison between “un” and “i”)

3)"une banquette" = a seat
[Diminutif de “banc” (bench) - PAS diminutif de “banque” (bank)]

4)"une barbichette" = small goatee = “une petite barbiche”
“une barbiche” = goatee = “une petite barbe” → a small beard
[Hence, "barbichette" → “diminutif de "barbiche” which is “diminutif de “barbe”]

5)"un porcelet" = apiglet [diminutif de “porc”]

6)"une baguette" = 'baguette' / French stick [PAS diminutif de “bague”!]

7)"une burette” = cruet [PAS diminutif de “bureau”!]

8)“une espagnolette" = locking device for French windows [PAS diminutif de “espagnole”!]

9) "un têtard" = tadpole [PAS diminutif de tête - more of "un augmentatif", considering the size of its head ...]


10) "un moucheron" = midge [Diminutif de “mouche”]

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’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline


abregement

  DSC_0106
A photo for Diane Scott. This dog (an épagneul?), lives in St. Tropez and gets to call those lovely blue shutters and lace curtains home. Now if someone would just let the loiterer inside for a nice treat!

Note: today's extra edition is a word only. The regular edition (with sound file, vocab section) returns tomorrow!


abrégement (ah-brezh-mahn)
    : abbreviation

synonymes : une apocope, un raccourcissement (shortening), une abréviation

............................................................................
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
............................................................................

You've heard about writer's block (when you can't think of the first word to put down on paper), then reader's block (when you don't feel like picking up a book), and now... how about "in-box block"? I've got it bad.

More about this topic another time. Meantime, while catching up on email, I reread one of Carol's (see her photo, below) poetic and educational responses, this time to the apocope edition. I thought you, too, would enjoy reading it -- for the rich list of vocab words and for the reminder as to what, exactly, apocopes are. Enjoy!

P.S.: Carol is a big fan of Smokey "R" Dokey and has addressed the following letter to his-truly.
P.P.S.: Would anyone like to volunteer to translate the following text? Please share your interpretation here in the comment's box. Merci beaucoup for your helpful participation!

"Petit apport d'apocopes pour copains" (ça c'est une allitération)":


En période d'exam (examen)

On ouvre le dico (dictionnaire)

Sur ces kilos d' mots, (kilogrammes)

C'est la récré, on va au ciné, (récréation, cinématographe)

L'affaire est dans l'sac

On aura no't bac, on ira en fac (baccalauréat, faculté)

Prenons l'auto, filons au resto, j'offre l'apéro  (automobile, restaurant, apéritif)

On f'ra des photos, (photographies)

Du prof de philo. (professeur, philosophie)

Pour toi Smokey:

Toi, joli chien sympa, sensas, extra,  (sympathique, sensationnel, extraordinaire)

Je suis fan de toi (fanatique).


  Photo
                   Smokey's Pooch-Perfect Pillow photo by Jean-Marc


Tu as remarqué Smokey, pour créer une apocope, on enlève les syllabes finales. Or, quand les proprios (propriétaires) de chiens vous parlent, ils utilisent le langage "enfantin" ou "enfanchien" dans ce cas. Et là, pour faire simple, ils doublent les syllabes, pour être sûrs que vous compreniez bien. Deux fois la même syllabe dis, comme si vous pouviez pas piger du premier coup! Ils vous prennent pour des débiles! Exemple:

Viens mon chienchien, (chien)

fini le dodo, (dormir)

donne la papatte à mèmère, (patte, mère)

où il a mis son nonoss le toutou? (os) (toutou/chienchien, même topo)

Il a encore fait le foufou...."  (fou ..... fou? qui est fou?:-)


...etc... On en passe, et des pires.

Que leur répondre? Ils ne sont pas méchants, plutôt bienveillants...

......Alors vous utilisez le même langage pour ne pas les vexer, et vous répondez :"wouaf, wouaf"!  Deux fois, pour qu'ils comprennent bien.....

 Bisous Bisous,

Carol Donnay, Belgium

  DSC03650   DSC03656   DSC03661

Please join me in thanking Carol for her helpful "apocope" examples. Click here to leave her a message, which she'll happily read from her chez-soi in Belgium!

Best-sellers on the French 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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--Jacqueline


subrepticement

  DSC_0330
Our story takes place here...

subrepticement (soo-brep-teece-mehn) adverb

    : surreptitiously

Audio File & Example Sentence

Download Wav or Download MP3
Et là, nous découvrons ce qu'est le festival [de Cannes]: des queues interminables, des dames très « BCBG » qui se glissent subrepticement devant nous... And there, we discover just what is the Cannes Film festival: interminable lines, chic (BCBGBon Chic Bon Genre) women who slip surreptitiously in line ahead of us... (L'Union)


Bonne cuisine French Cooking

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................................................................................
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
................................................................................

It might have been Cretan's glance for all I know. All I know is that I threw it his way, if such a side-long regard can be subrepticement thrown.

Did he see me? I can't be sure, but judging from the way he picked up speed, I'd say he did, indeed did he.

In the perched village of Ramatuelle, I was bee-lining my way up to a sunlit café. Before sensing the interloper, my eyes had been trained on the corner table at the edge of the boxed terrace, the one with a view of the fountain and les passants. My eyes—mes mirettes—were focused, locked now on the table du coin, the one drenched with Saturday morning sun. Précisément, I wanted that east-facing banc! More than to my muse, it spoke to my aching back.

For an altruistic instant I wondered: perhaps his back was aching too, that interloper who was now taking the terrace steps two by two.

Only, when he raced forward, there came the moment of truth...

That is when I found myself diving for the same booth!

 

***
:: Le Coin Commentaires ::

Did you enjoy today's word or story? Do you have something to add to this edition or would you simply like to share a friendly "bonjour"? Your feedback, corrections, and stories are most welcome. Click here to comment.


French Vocabulary

Cretan glance = many thanks to Johanna and Will Demay for introducing me to this fascinating term. My regrets for not using it in the most correct context... but I was ansy to try it out! The term was coined by Greek philosopher Nikos Kazantzakis who wrote Zorba The Greek  (about a philosophizing, larger-than-life mine owner who confronts life with exuberance and wit).

Nikos Kazantzakis once said: A man needs a little madness, or else he never dares cut the rope and be free.

le regard = glance
les passants = passers-by
la mirette = eye
les mirettes (fpl) = peepers
la table du coin = corner table
précisément
= specifically
le banc = bench, seat

***

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French playground French Playground : a collection of French language songs

Words in a French Life: Lessons in Life and Language from the South of France

  DSC_0325

Thank you Cynthia Bogart at The Daily Basics for including this blog in your Francophile alert. Read the story here!

And you will love Anne-Claire's My American Market newsletter. Check out the gluten-freee chestnut cake recipe... :-)

***

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’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline


enieme

  DSC_0052-1
An ewt in Ramatuelle... read on

 

énième (en-ee- em) adjective

    : umpteenth, steenth, nth

Audio File & Example Sentence:
Larmoyante, elle a fait son énième mea culpa.
Teary eyed, she excused herself for the umpteenth time.

                            ("Naomi Campell: Le Mea Culpa de Trop" Gala magazine)

Download MP3 . Download Wav


A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Words & Expressions Learned (or revisited) While on Vacation

faire le pont = "to do the bridge"

Because Ascension Day falls on Thursday, the French arrange their agendas to allow for a vacation "bridge" (to cover the following work day...) one in which Friday becomes part of the passage to the weekend—and no longer part of the obstacle (work, ever the obstacle!).

And so it was that we skipped work on Thursday and Friday... in time to join a group of friends along the Blue Coast for our annual May getaway.


une hutte
(noun) = hut

On the outskirts of Ramatuelle, near St. Tropez, along the sandy Pampelone beach with its turquoise sea and undulating eau de mer, hundreds of bamboo bungalows face the Mediterranean.  Similar to the sailboats anchored across the horizon, these abodes are amovible. I overhear fellow vacationers refer to these "chiqued up" mobile-homes as huttes (which the French charmingly pronounce at ewts).

"Quel numéro de hutte as-tu?"

Moi
, I have number 47, three rows back from the sea. Our hut does not have a seashore view, but is one in a circle that faces a half-dozen identicle huts—all occupied by "Les Marseillais" (the group of friends that we join each year. This being our 10th meet-up....)


griffes de sorcière (noun, f) "witches claws"

These modernized and elegant ewts are surrounded by succulents commonly known as les griffes de sorcières (Carpobrotus edulis). The pulpy plant's flowers, in pastel yellow and pink, stretch out over the sizzling sable, mimicking the barely clad beachgoers.

  DSC_0021-1


Speaking of bare-clad...

énième (also spelled n ième) "umpteenth" (see example sentence, above...)

My friend Sophie and I have arranged ourselves on the beach, contorting barely clad bodies into inconspicuous positions, only, in so doing, we become conspicuous. I borrow Sophie's Gala magazine for cover. Though it won't hide my entire body, it will conceal my face (rendering my body inconnu if not "ni vu").

As I lie there, incognito, my nose to the spine of the magazine, ink bleeding onto my cheeks, I notice a story about a famous model's latest meltdown or run-in with la rage, wherein the superstar shows, once again, her very own "claws" or griffes de sorcière—only they aren't as soft as those flower "griffes" that embellish the ewts at the top of the beach.

For a grateful moment, I think about anonymity and this gift of lying inconspicuously by the sea. Who would want to be a star or a tabloid sensation-stalked celebrity? A few extra kilos no longer hold the same oppressive power over me and I wouldn't trade this heaven... for "Tall, Thin and In Trouble with the Paparazzi Again." 

 

French Vocabulary

eau de mer
amovible
sable
inconnu
"ni vu (ni connu)"
= neither seen nor heard

note: deadlines! deadlines! I ran out of time for the vocab section! Anyone like to help complete it? Thanks for volunteering a word or definition here, in the comments box.

 

st tropez beach bungalow sand

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’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline


tintouin

DSC_0045-1
So many different shapes and sizes in a bed of soucis... Some wrinkled, others plump-petaled. More, in today's story column.

 

tintouin (tehn-twehn) noun, masculine

    : worry, bother; din, racket

et tout le tintouin = an all the rest

Le copiste avec ses innombrables incorrections me donne autant de tintouin que le poète avec ses étourderies et ses maladresses. -- from the diary of Henri-Frédéric Amiel

(Can you please help translate example sentence? Interpretations welcome here!
)

Audio File:
listen to today's word, phrase, and example sentence. Hear MP3 or WAV

Also:
se donner du tintouin = to go to alot of trouble
donner du tintouin à quelqu'un = to give somebody alot of trouble


..................................................................
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
...................................................................


"Pale and Plumpening"

I am scribbling down une liste de bagages for St. Tropez (hat, towel, sandals, maillot de bain...). Swim suit! This last item has me pleading with the patron saint of pluie: would that all that rain we've been having lately continuer to pour down! It is good for the flower seeds that I have been scattering and good for scattering the bathing-suit bustin' beachgoers... in time to reroute everyone to the local café for shelter from the regard of slim sungods and goddesses.

Franchement
, it is not the right time to put on a swimsuit!

Remarquez
, time is never on our side when we are busy focusing on our hang ups. Perhaps vacations are a good time to let them go? After all, while packing for a trip we unhang our clothes before folding them into our valises. Why not take advantage of the chore to leave our "hangups" where they belong: on a wooden or wire hanger au fond de l'armoire—along with everything else we have outgrown?

***
(Note: the next story goes out Monday. Meantime, if anyone has special favor with the Patron Saint of Pluie, put in a good word for me, will you?)


French Vocabulary

une liste de bagages = packing list
un maillot de bain = bathing suit
la pluie = rain
continuer = to continue
franchement = frankly
remarquez (remarquer) = on second thought...
la valise = suitcase
au fond de l'armoire = at the back of the closet
 

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***

Walnut Wine and Truffle Groves Walnut Wine and Truffle Groves is a culinary travel book that navigates the back roads—as well as the menus and markets—of the southwestern region of France with newfound excitement. Through interviews with local home cooks and chefs, visits to local farms, historic sites and wineries, market tours, and serendipitous detours, Lovato provides a glimpse into this unspoiled wonderland. The alluring recipes and stunning photographs let readers discover the true jewels in France’s culinary crown as well as discover the country’s most beautiful and less trod-upon provinces. Order here.



Art of French Cooking Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Two Volume Set. Order it here.

A Day in a Dog's Life... by Smokey "R" Dokey

  DSC_0001
A shoe never tasted so good, coupled with the sweet aroma of fleurs...

  DSC_0006
More about Smokey when he and Mama Braise return from the chenil (mutt motel). Sniff, sniff.... or, as the French would say "sneef sneef"!

  DSC_0010

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’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline


smala

  French heart shutter (c) Kristin Espinasse
My husband tells me that today's word is a little too argot... and not something he uses very often. But Jean-Marc is from Marseilles... and I'm betting people in Paris would pucker up in pleasure at pronouncing today's term, which is a synonym for "tribe" or "clan" or "posse" or even "bercail". It is especially in theme with today's story about my kindly kin.

smala (smah-lah) noun, feminine

    : big family (famille nombreuse); entourage

from the Arabic, zmalah: tribe

Audio File & Example Sentence: Download WAV or Download MP3

Pour la réunion de famille, ma belle-mère était la première arrivée, suivie de toute la smala. For the family reunion, my mother-in-law was the first to arrive, followed by the rest of the tribe.



.............................................................
A Day in a French Life... Kristin Espinasse
.............................................................

How To Eat Chocolate Mousse for Breakfast on Monday

1. Invite your in-laws over for an annual pique-nique de Pâques. Overlook tardiness when the belle-famille arrives on Mother's day, two months later. Sympathize (they are French)

2. Offer to be in charge of the BBQ and apéros (easy-pois-peasy, especially when you've delegated this task to your husband). Suggest that each in-law-invité bring along un truc or une bricole; sit back and rest on your lauriers as they negotiate among themselves to come up with the rest of the repas.

  French BBQ (c) Kristin Espinasse

3. Watch as cousins, tantes, uncles, brother-in-law, and belle-mère arrive from as far away as Verona and Fuveau, marching happily to the maison like ants returning from a newly-planted radish patch, each holding a caloric unit: there will be fresh-picked pois chiches, olive-oil pressed from hand picked olives, home-made tabouleh with apricots, hand-rolled chocolate truffles à la noix de coco.. gâteau de canard fumé avec figues, buttery biscuit cake...

4. Before dessert—and already filled to the French gills—ease back in your chaise and listen to Provençale traditions, like bird-calling. Feel your ears tremble to the timbre of merles, alouettes, rossignols, grives... close your eyes and marvel that you cannot tell the difference between man and animal, birdsong or the wistful whistling of a wine farmer.

  DSC_0028
           Uncle Jean-Claude, left, whistling wine maker (André), right

Ask Winefarmer where he got that treasure of a golden locket that he wears around his neck (the cylindrical piece of gold, fashioned into un appeaux, that he lifts to his lips before letting loose a lulaby of birds in flight. When he looks over, lovingly, to his sweet bride of 40+ years, wish on the next shooting star that you will find as thoughtful a present for your own winemaker husband.

5. Follow your family outside (now that the rain has stopped), over to the tree-lined driveway...

  How to prune an olive tree (c) Kristin Espinasse
  Wine-maker-bird-caller André, thoughtful gift-giving wife Annie, Jean-Marc

Carry a pair of secateurs and a spindle of string... hoping they'll need assistance in this olive-pruning undertaking. Watch as the pros shape the olive trees that once made up an untidy row.  Agree wholeheartedly when they stand back and declare, indeed an hirondelle could now fly through the tree, now that some branches were spared.

  Family (c) Kristin Espinasse

6. Return to the house and look at the crowded kitchen counters, casseroles climbing high to the French sky. Go and get jam jars, plastic ice cream tubs, and tin foil... tell the ladies load up on leftovers. Insist when they resist!

Divide and conquer the casseroles, calling out: est-ce que tout le monde a eu des pois chiches? Et le taboulé? Prenez-en! 

Eight hours after sitting down for lunch, kiss everyone goodbye three times. Steal a few more bisous. Remain planted on the front patio, waving goodbye, never mind that the aunts have told you to get back inside...

You'd rather catch cold than miss the chance to see them off... to the end of the olive-lined road.
Broken branches flanking their path.
When will they be back?

7. The morning after, sit there feeling devilish as you dine on dessert for breakfast. Notice the calm. It isn't the quiet house or the mood altering Mousse Charlotte. It is kinship and kindness.

:: Le Coin Commentaires ::
Corrections, feedback, and stories of your own are welcome and appreciated. Click here to comment


French Vocabulary

l'argot (m) = slang
le bércail = fold ("sheep back to the fold")
la belle-famille = in-laws
le pique-nique = picnic
Pâques (f) = Easter (click here for more on the French word for Easter: Pâques
le pois = pea

invité(e) m/f = guest
le truc (as in un petit truc) = (a little) something, thing
la bricole (as in "un petit bricole)  = (a little) something, thing
le laurier = laurel
le repas = meal
la tante = aunt
le pois chiche = chickpea 
à la noix de coco = with coconut
le gâteau = cake
le canard fumé = smoked duck
la figue = fig
la chaise = chair
le merle = blackbird
une alouette = lark
le rossignol = nightingale
la grive = thrush (faute de grives on mange des merles = beggars can't be choosers)
une hirondelle = swallow
un appeux = bird calling apparatus (see photos)
est-ce que tout le monde a eu des pois chiches? Et le taboulé? Prenez-en!  =
Would anyone like some chickpeas? How about some tabouleh? Go on - take some!

le bisous = kiss
la mousse charlotte (see similar chocolate charlotte recipe here)

 

 

***

Walnut Wine and Truffle Groves Walnut Wine and Truffle Groves is a culinary travel book that navigates the back roads—as well as the menus and markets—of the southwestern region of France with newfound excitement. Through interviews with local home cooks and chefs, visits to local farms, historic sites and wineries, market tours, and serendipitous detours, Lovato provides a glimpse into this unspoiled wonderland. The alluring recipes and stunning photographs let readers discover the true jewels in France’s culinary crown as well as discover the country’s most beautiful and less trod-upon provinces. Order here.

Eggplant caviar
Eggplant Caviar: use with toast or crackers as an apéritif. Lovely alongside hard-boiled quail's eggs (as my mother-in-law serves it!) Order a jar!

Rosetta Stone French Level 1, 2, & 3

Fluenz French 1+2

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’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline