une paille
une aiguille

le truc

        Nice
                                    A café in Nice

Don't forget about the new feature at French Word-A-Day: a sound clip! Just click on the link under today's definition to hear the word pronounced.

le truc (trewk) noun, masculine
  1. way, trick
  2. thing
  3. thingamajig, hootenanny

Hear the word "truc": Download Truc.wav

Terms and Expressions:

Monsieur Truc = Mr what's his name
les trucs du métier = the tricks of the trade
C'est quoi, ce truc là? What's that thing (thingamajig)?
trouver le truc (pour faire quelque chose) = to get the hang of something

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Citation du Jour
Il n'y a rien de nouveau sous le soleil, mais il y a aussi tout un tas de vieux trucs que nous ignorons.
There is nothing new under the sun but there are lots of old things we don't know.
--Ambrose Bierce

A Day in a French Life...

...in which I fear I am like the proverbial housewife (or the settled expatriate) that has let herself (her French pronunciation) go.

                               * The Language Lolitas *

I listened to my American friends converse with my French friend Stéphane. Up
till now, I had not heard them utter one French word.

"But, you are French!" Stéphane said.
"No," they insisted.

Though they live 'over the pond,' their command of la langue française* is impressionnante.*

Lolita et compagnie...*
And then, a few weeks back, I met up with two Anglophones in Aix-en-Provence. I followed the women into a magasin* and listened to them ask the store owner for information. I fully expected to hear that familiar American accent roll right off their tongues... indeed I cringed in anticipation. Instead the women rolled their French r's like a couple of natives.

      * The Housewife (or language slacker in robe and slippers) *

After a dozen or so years in France, I am like the proverbial housewife that has
let herself go. "Hitched" for some time now to the Hexagone* I have become a
little too comfortable in the language, a little too sure of my savoir parler.*
It is only when a French Language Vamp steps in, with his or her stiletto-heeled
tongue that I am forced to recognize my own dowdy diphthong.

After receiving my French residency card (and uttering a ceremonial "with this
card I thee reside"), it seems I've taken off my high heels and replaced them
with fuzzy French slippers.

Like a frumpy femme au foyer* who spends less time on her appearance to attend to a needy baby--I spend less time primping over pronunciation; my "needy babies" are my French vocabulary.

Just like the mother who must give up time for herself to nurture her child, I have stopped preening my pronunciation and gotten on with feeding and burping my lexicon: in with exact words, out with the air-packed substitutes ("machin," "truc," "chose"... or "thingy" "thingamajig" "thing") that I used to rely on for words I did not know.

Every cozy housewife's nightmare is the sultry vixen (or Language Lolita) who
threatens her marriage. Perhaps language is one place where there is room for a word mistress. For the French language--the object of our affection, frustration and bouts of jealousy--surely has enough love to go around.

So the next time a Language Lolita hip-sways into your suburb, menacing your
relationship with your partner, Pronunciation, instead of closing your shutters and locking your doors, you might just invite him or her in for tea and conversation. (Wear your speech stilettos just in case.)

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*References: la langue française (f) = French language; impressionnant(e) = impressive; et compagnie = and company; le magasin (m) = shop; l'Hexagone (m) = France; savoir (to know how) parler (to speak); la femme au foyer (f) = housewife

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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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