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Entries from March 2006

sablier

another time device: le cadran solaire - sundial (c) Kristin Espinassele sablier (sah-blee-yay) n.m.
hour-glass, sand-glass; egg timer

L'amour tue l'intelligence. Le cerveau fait sablier avec le coeur. L'un ne se remplit que pour vider l'autre.

Love kills intelligence. The mind forms an hour-glass with the heart. One fills itself only to empty the other.
--Jules Renard

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A Day in a French Life...

"Un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq*..." my daughter gurgles, brushing her teeth and counting under bubbly breath. She is taking her brother's advice which he, in turn, has taken from the dentist: to brush for three minutes, three times a day.

As we don't have un sablier* to mark the passage of time, the kids have come up with the counting idea. If his sister fudges, Max reminds her: "Trois fois soixante, Jackie!" three times sixty! If she prefers, he tells her, she can just count to a hundred and eighty.

Jackie's dad tells her to "bien frotter!"* and that twirling on one's heels while brushing one's teeth won't help to loosen any more plaque.

At the next sink I take a few grains of my family's advice. "Un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq..." I count and scrub, pirouetting just for the heck of it.

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*References: un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq = one, two, three, four, five; un sablier (m) = hour-glass; bien frotter = brush well

Listen to sound clip: hear Jean-Marc pronounce the word 'sablier': Download sablier.wav

If you are looking to say "hour-glass figure" then leave 'sablier' out of the equation and use "silhouette de rêve" instead!

And finally, does your charm bracelet have the sablier pendant?: http://sabliercharm.notlong.com/

Language learning in books: Tune Up Your French: Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Spoken French

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy and look forward to these posts and want to give something back, please know your contribution makes a difference! A donation by check or via PayPal is greatly appreciated.
 
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couette

old advertisement in a shop in Nimes, France (c) Kristin Espinasse

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Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France"...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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la couette (kwet) noun, feminine
  1. duvet, comforter  2. a (gathered) lock of hair

Proverb: Etendez vos pieds selon la couverture. Stretch out your feet according to the blanket.

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A Day in a French Life...

On my way to the shower, I stop at the wicker panier*-on-wheels and kneel beside it, sorting and seizing enough 'lights' to fill the washer, careful to turn all the socks right-side out and shaking my head when dirt falls to the floor (proof that the kids keep on wearing their chaussettes* outdoors and that Jean-Marc is a grown-up kid after all). I set the machine to marche* then step over to the tiled stall, pull the robinet* lever forward and left to chaud,* and begin a second soap and water cycle, only without the spinning program.

Next, I pull on a white terrycloth robe, wrap my hair in a towel, turban style, and leave the salle de bain* to check on the kids' progress. Passing through the bedroom, I pull a crumpled couette* up over the bed, straighten two pillows, picking up a third oreiller* from the floor, shaking it, then tossing it on top of the other two before walking over to the fenêtre* to unfasten and push open the wooden shutters to a cloudless sky and a kiss of cold morning air.

From the hallway, I see Max in the bathroom shaping his hair, stopping every so often to strike a pose. In the next room, Jackie is seated at the breakfast table, pushing muesli back and forth in her cereal bowl with the help of a soup spoon. I notice she has styled her hair and how nice it looks--from the front; the back looks like the underside of a robin's nest, having been brushed forward haphazardly and gathered, along with the front, above each newly-pierced ear and secured with elastic bands, one thin, one fat.

During the car ride to school I look into the rearview mirror. One of my children is wearing an understated mohawk, the other, pigtails. Having learned the French word for mohawk a few weeks back, I ask about Jackie's hairdo.
"How do you say pigtails in French?"
"Les couettes," the kids answer, at once.
"Ahhh... merci! The kwets* and krehts* are shwet,*" I mumble.
That is when the kids look at me as if, back at the shower, I might've gone through a spin cycle after all.

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References: le panier (m) = basket; la chaussette (f) = sock; marche = on/start; le robinet (m) = tap, faucet (temperature control lever); le chaud (m) = hot; la salle de bain(s) (f) = bathroom; la couette (f) = comforter; un oreiller (m) = pillow; la fenêtre (f) = window; kwet (pronunciation for 'couette'); kreht (pronunciation for crête = mohawk); shwet (pronunciation for chouette = great, cool)
                        
Listen: hear the word couette pronounced: Download couette2.wav

Terms & Expressions:
la housse de couette = quilt or comforter cover
se mettre sous la couette =  "to put oneself under the blanket" = to go to bed
glander sous la couette = to hang out in bed

Pull back the couette, prop up a pillow or two and read Hemingway's classic about (as he tells it) "...how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy...":  http://moveablefeast.notlong.com/

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy and look forward to these posts and want to give something back, please know your contribution makes a difference! A donation by check or via PayPal is greatly appreciated.
 
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gras

hotel and restaurant in a small town near Montpellier In theme with today's word, I've trimmed the 'gras' off of the following story. Also, don't miss the sound clip for gras & grasse at the end of this edition!

gras, grasse (grah, gras) adjective
1. fat, fatty  2. stout (person)  3. greasy (hair) 4. thick (soil)


Un jour par an, le Mardi gras par exemple, les hommes devraient retirer leur masque des autres jours. One day a year, on Fat Tuesday for example, people ought to take off their mask from the other days. --Claude Aveline

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A Day in a French Life...

At Super U the cashiers are wearing elaborate masks with shiny sequins and feathers, tall and short, black and fuchsia, orange, blue, green, and yellow... reminding me of Mardi gras or Fat Tuesday. As I pile chocolate-filled cookies, canned whipped cream, and small tubs of flan onto the conveyer belt, I think about how Mardi may be fat, but the French woman who just clipped past me to hang a left at the exotic foods aisle has legs as skinny as chopsticks.

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Listen to Max and Jackie pronounce the words 'gras' and 'gras': Download gras.wav

'Grah' on the tongue is fun to pronounce; gras on the hips is hard to renounce. Slim down with this Frenchman's new book: http://montignac.notlong.com

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Terms & Expressions:
parler/rire gras = to speak/laugh coarsely
faire la grasse matinée = to sleep in
discuter le bout de gras = to chew the fat, to chat
la toux grasse = loose cough (as opposed to la toux sèche, dry cough)

More expressions this book:

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy and look forward to these posts and want to give something back, please know your contribution makes a difference! A donation by check or via PayPal is greatly appreciated.
 
♥ Contribute $10    
♥ Contribute $25    
♥ Contribute the amount of your choice