One year ago, looking in the window at my French family who joined us here for le repas de Noël.
TODAY'S WORD: une mangeoire
: feeding trough, manger
Là, dans la saleté et entre les animaux, elle mit son bébé au monde. Puis elle l'enveloppa chaudement et, comme il n'y avait pas de berceau, elle le déposa dans *une mangeoire* pour qu'il puisse dormir... There, in the dirt and among the animals, she brought her baby into the world. Then she covered him snugly and, as there was no cradle, she put him in a feeding trough. --from the book "Grande Bible Pour Les Enfants," Chantecler edition
Listen to our son Max pronounce today's French word and example sentence: Download Mangeoire
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
by Kristi Espinasse
(Story written 10 years ago...when the kids were little)
Reading to my Francophone children in their native tongue is a humbling, sometimes humiliating experience. Not only for the pause pronunciation—child-issued breaks in which I must stop reading in order to repeat a French word that I have tripped up on—but also for the words that I still do not know: both French... and in English.
Thankfully, not all "readings" are cause for reprimand. De temps en temps, there are eye-opening moments when suddenly, more than a word making sense, the world seems to take on new meaning as well.
It was while reading a chapter called "The birth..." or La naissance de Jésus to my daughter that I felt a lump in my throat and a sting in my eyes. An English word with which I've had but a yearly encounter—usually during the holiday season—suddenly defined itself as its French counterpart moved up my vocal chords and exited in a French chorus of sound and meaning. The text preceding the word (indicated between asterisks, below) only served to set the dramatic stage:
There, in the filth and between the animals, she brought her baby into the world. Then she wrapped him warmly and, as there was no cradle, she put him down in a *feeding trough* so that he could sleep.
Replacing the word "manger" with "feeding trough", its equivalent, gives the account an even more heartrending effect; "manger" is poetic, while "feeding trough" effectively evokes the brutal bed that was the only resting place for the delicate newborn.
As for those instances of humiliation—whether in fumbling through French text before a ten-year-old... or in the stories that I have lived that will never be told—my mind now calls up a peaceful bergerie, wherein an unspoiled baby would come to suffer all humility -- Him, instead of me.
le repas de Noël = Christmas dinner
de temps en temps = from time to time
La Naissance de Jésus = The Birth of Jesus
la bergerie (f) = shelter (sheepfold)
MERRY CHRISTMAS! Je vous souhaite un joyeux Noël. And in case you were looking for it, here is the recipe for a classic French cake. (If you cut it into thirds--and stuffed it a bit--it could almost pass for the famous bûche de Noël. That's 3 cakes in one! :-)
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