Update on Jean-Marc: We are still waiting for the kidney biopsy results. Meantime, read about how we are passing the time, in the following story... We have very good news: all is OK! The nurse called to say that the test results show nothing to worry about. That is all the info we have for now. Thank you very much for your caring notes and positive thoughts!
avoir les chochottes (ahv whar lay sho koht)
: to have the jitters
Tip: Read beyond the word of the day. Discover stories from a French life, just below. You will learn many more French words in context as well as everyday expressions not found in a textbook.
Les chocottes is a synonym for "teeth". In the expression "avoir les chocottes" we can imagine chattering teeth in response to fear.
Quand il m'a demandé de tenir la barrique pendant que la tronçonneuse allait la scier, j'ai eu les chocottes! When he asked me to hold onto the wine barrel while the power saw cut through it, I had the jitters!
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
"Taking Trust to the Next Level"
Jean-Marc wants to play "Magician and Assistant" only I'm not game.
Never mind. My husband is not one to wait for an answer. Instead, he points to the 220-liters wine barrel and says: Mets-toi là! Stand there!
I drag my legs over to the old wooden barrique.
"Je ne peux pas faire ça!"
My protests are met by slight annoyance on the part of The Magician, who turns his attention to the power saw and begins yanking at the cord.
The tronçonneuse gives a roar only to die down again... and just when I think I will be dismissed from this macabre chore... back to life that power saw roars!
The edge of the saw wavers to and fro as The Magician motions to the side of the barrel. I take my cue to step into place. I have no stileto heels, no sequined gown. I am dressed in tatters and terror.
Standing to the side of the huge barrique, I reach out to put the tip of my finger on its hard metal edge.
"Ne bouge pas! Don't move!" The Magician orders.
Don't move? Je suis paralysée. Only, when the saw hits the barrel and the wood dust begins to fly I jump back. "I can't! I can't!!!"
Jean-Marc fires up the tronçonneuse once again and moves in toward the wine barrel. He is going to saw it in half with or without me!
Seeing the barrel rock, I inch over to it and grab onto the end. My eyes are pressed so tightly together that my upper lip rises in time to bare my teeth, which receive a thin screen of saw dust when wood particles hurl forth from the saw's blade.
When the power saw is fired up for the next round, I remember to hold my mouth closed. I feel the barrel roll forwards and backwards as the Magician rotates the cutting surface.
"C'est presque fini!" he informs me.
I pry open my right eye to see whether Mr. Magician is telling the truth. En effet, the barrel is about to split in half!
"Voilà, Chérie," the husband-houdini announces. Two new flower pots for you!
I study the halved barrel. My other eye pops open when the critic in me can't help but point out the wavy, uneven coupe:
"Perhaps a straight line should have been traced first?"
"Mais c'est ça qui fait son charme!" Jean-Marc argues.
I follow the French accent to the uneven smile from which the argument pours forth.
"T'as raison!" "You are right!", I admit to the disarming Magician, "C'est ça qui fait son charme!" Only, my eyes are no longer lingering on the crooked barrel.
Corrections, Comments, and stories of your own are welcome here, in the comments box.
la barrique = large barrel
Je ne peux pas faire ça! = I can't do that
la tronçonneuse = power saw
ne bouge pas! = don't move
je suis paralysé = I am paralyzed
c'est presque fini! = it's almost done!
en effet = as a matter of fact, indeed
Voilà, Chérie = There you are, Dear
la coupe = the cut
Mais, c'est ça qui fait son charme! = But that's what gives it its charm!
(pictured, left, another charming twist in home decoration: a whimsically painted wooden shutter. Photo taken in the town of Jonquières, and featured in Saturday's Cinéma Vérité edition)
Newforest's Notes : Chocotte & Chochotte
In a follow up to her comment in today's Coin Commentaires, Newforest sent in these helpful and interesting expressions:
When you are afraid, your teeth may chatter (choc-choc-choc)... "les chocottes" are a very old term for "les dents" (teeth) and is no longer used these days, except in a childish language and in the familiar expression used when you are frightened: "avoir les chocottes". In 'ordinary' language, you would say: "claquer des dents", which can be caused either by "avoir froid" ('being cold') or, "avoir peur" ('being afraid, scared')
Here are other very 'familiar' expressions in French, to translate the idea of being afraid, being scared, being frightened
-> "avoir la frousse" = to be scared
BTW, if you are always afraid of something, you are "un froussard" (= "un peureux")
- "froussard(e)" and "peureux (peureuse)" are also used as adjectives.
-> "avoir la trouille" = to be frightened/scared to death
You measure temperature with "un thermomètre"... atmospheric pressure with "un baromètre" and, by analogy, you measure your fear (your "trouille") with an imaginary.... "trouillomètre"!
so, "avoir le trouillomètre à zéro" = to be VERY frightened indeed... to be petrified/paralyzed with terror
-> "avoir la pétoche"
= to be scared stiff, to be scared out of one's wits
Synonyms for "la pétoche" -> "la crainte", "la frayeur", "la peur"
The word "chochotte" (pejorative) means something totally different!
"une chochotte" is either
--> a girl we can describe as affectedly pretty, very fussy and rather snobbish - a girl "qui fait des chichis"
- "faire des chichis" / "des manières" / "des simagrées" = to put on 'airs'
- Familiar words for such a girl:
"une pimbêche", "une chichiteuse", "une bêcheuse" (the word "bêcheuse" has also got other meanings).
--> a boy we can describe as excessively trendy, stylish (but lacking virility...), having extremely refined manners, effeminate.
- pejorative for homosexual-
What kind of flowers shall be put in our recouped barrel (which is just like this one, only sans fleurs)? Share your suggestions here, in the comments box -- and thanks in advance!
Mama Braise (BREZ) is pictured here... As Smokey dries off somewhere outside the edge of this photo.
**fleur de lys, continued ... one theory has it that the famous flower came into recognition in the early wars, when a certain king waded through the narrow, iris-flanked waterways to escape the enemy. After a safe journey (thanks to the camouflaging flowers...) the humble iris des marais, or "iris of the marais", was honored. It is this "fleur de Louis" that inspired the French coat of arms (and not the fleur de lys). But don't take my word for it... there are other theories (I heard this one from Uncle Jean-Claude and the facts might have gotten mixed up in translation!)
I Heart Paris Shopper: made of recycled material
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