un écart

My daughter Jackie turned seven ("l'âge de raison") on Saturday. She is back today with her column "Thoughts of a Little Girl from France" (in French and English).

un écart (ay-kar) noun, masculine
1. distance apart, gap

Expressions:
faire le grand écart = to do the splits
faire un écart = to step aside
un écart de conduite = a lapse of conduct, misdemeanor
écarts de jeunesse = youthful indiscretions
un écart de l'imagination = a flight of the imagination
se tenir à l'écart = to keep oneself apart, aloof
habiter à l'écart = to live in a remote, lonely area
un écart d'âge = an age gap
un grand écart = (fig) a balancing act
un écart de langage = a rude or offensive word or phrase = a "gap" in language

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French Proverb:

Ecarte-toi des lieux où l'on parle ou trop fort ou trop bas.
Distance yourself from places where people talk too loud or too low.

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Pensées d'une Petite Fille de France

"Le Grand Ecart"

L'autre jour dans la salle de gym on a fait la danse et on a fait le grand écart.

Pour faire le grand écart il faut toucher par terre tout la longueur des jambes. Ce n'est pas du tout facile car ça tire dans les jambes.

Dans mon cours de danse, il y a Juliette qui le fait bien le grand écart mais aussi Bérénice. Pour certains, ce n'est pas évident de faire le grand écart. (Par exemple, pour moi et pour Cassandra, ce n'est pas encore ça.)

* * * In English * * *

The other day in the gym we danced and did the splits.

To do the splits, the length of one's legs must touch the ground. It isn't easy at all because it really pulls (with)in the legs.

In my dance class, there's Juliette who does the splits well, but so does Bérénice. For certain people, it isn't easy to do the splits. (For example, for me and for Cassandra. We're not there yet.)

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Post note: Jackie became flustered while dictating today's story to me. Apparently my French pronunciation, for even the simplest of phrases, is ultra null. The following scene took place:

Me: (reading back story, and the phrase 'un grand écart') "Ewn grahnd ay kart"
Jackie: "Ça veut rien dire!" (that doesn't mean anything!) "It's 'uhn grah taykar'!"
Me (re-reading story) "Ewn grahnd ay kart"
Jackie: "Oh la la!!!! C'est "uhn grah TAYKAR!"

Read more about my daughter, Jackie, in the book Words in a French Life

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my post. 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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"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa


un jeton

un jeton (zhuh-toh) noun, masculine
1. a token; counter; chip
2. a dent (i.e.: la voiture a pris un jeton/the car was dented)

Expressions:
un faux jeton = a hypocrite
toucher ses jetons = to draw one's fees
avoir les jetons = to have the jitters

Also:
un jeton de caddie = a token for a shopping cart

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Citation du Jour:

Un conquérant est un joueur déterminé qui prend un million
d'hommes pour jetons et le monde entier pour tapis.

A conqueror is a determined player who takes a million men for chips
and the whole world for baize.*
--Comte de Ségur

(*baize is the green felt fabric used to cover gaming tables)

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A Day in a French Life...

Outside the Super U grocery store I returned the supermarket caddie* to the "caddieshack" (I guess you could call it)--that covered storage area where all of the grocery carts are empilé, or crammed into one another.

In France you have to rent shopping carts. To release a metal cart, you insert a one euro coin into the horizontal slot on the caddie's handlebar. Lacking a one euro coin, you can use a jeton* provided by most supermarkets. Organized shoppers have the nifty jetons hanging from their keyrings. I am not one of those people, but someone who tends to lose jetons, so it was no surprise that the last time I entered the supermarket with a "J'ai besoin d'un jeton"* request the manager flashed a "Not vous again!" look.

Back at le parking,* after having unloaded all of my courses* into the trunk, I was gathering up momentum to push the caddie into a line of carts when a young woman approached me, smiled and held out a one euro coin.

"Non," I said pointing to the coin slot, "Il y a un jeton dedans."

When she stood there smiling and pushing the euro coin toward me, I realized she hadn't understood. After repeating "No, there is a token in there!" it was déjà vu all over again, with the woman standing there grinning and offering me the same two-toned coin.

I am used to shoppers offering a coin at the caddieshack entrance, saving you the trouble of reinstalling the carte, wrestling the coin from the caddie, only for them to insert a coin and wrestle the caddy back out. But this time I had inserted a jeton instead of real money. The thought of the kind lady discovering the fake coin at the end of her shopping errand horrified me.

Or almost.... It did cross my mind to accept her one euro coin. In each of us lives "un petit diable," n'est-ce pas? But I didn't succumb to monsieur le diable, not this time at least.

Instead, the Supermarket Gods were smiling down on us and there would be one less Good-Samaritan-come-Faux Jeton* in this world (or at least in the little Super U parking lot.)

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*References: un caddie (m) = a grocery shopping cart (also called "un chariot" [shar-ee-oh]); j'ai besoin d'un jeton = I need a token; le parking (m) = the parking lot; les courses (fpl) = provisions; un petit diable (m) = a little devil; un faux jeton = a hypocrite

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my post. 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


"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa