The Beverly Hillbillies meet the Hexagone... Photo taken in front of our "baraque": a bidet, a bécane, a lot of beton and, beyond, a breathtaking view.
Rosetta Stone French - the award-winning method used by NASA and the Peace Corps
bécane (bay-kan) noun, feminine
"Bécane" is also slang for "motorcycle" and "machine". You can use the noun to designate a computer, a calculator or any machine upon which one works. Oh, the possibilities for employing today's word!
As for today's quote...just between you and moi, "bécane" quotes aren't exactly flooding the reference books that clutter this desk. So how about taking the dreamy quote, below, and exchanging one of its parts? The quote's meaning will stay the same--just replace "machine" with "bécane" for the same effect:
Le dictionnaire est une machine à rêver.
The dictionary is a dream machine. --Roland Barthes
I was folding sun-dried linens at the picnic table when a man in a casquette* called out to me from the front gate. Next to the terra-cotta tiles, stacked in old wooden crates and waiting to be scraped and scrubbed, I recognized our immediate neighbor, Yann. And when I say "immediate" I mean that if I open one of our north facing windows and toss a stick of frozen butter over to the petite brunette (Yann's wife, Daniele) standing at the front door, she'll be able to catch it fastoche* and eventually make that Tarte Tatin for which she had had an inspiration.
"Bonjour, Yann," I said, dropping a lovelorn sock for which no well-meaning Cupid could find a suitable match. Leaving the laundry, I made my way down the crooked cinder block stairs, past a line of unhinged doors, and along a row of potted grappa tomatoes. Careful not to slip again, I stepped over an unwound hose and offered Yann my right hand only to take it back in time to receive three kisses, one per cheek then back again, which is the local custom (as opposed to two kisses or a handshake).
Next, I apologized for the tractor and farm equipment, including a charrue,* pulvérisateur,* and fouloir*--machines that are facing Yann's woven wire fence which separates our properties. While the equipment is parked on our property, just in front of our cellar, it must be a terrible eyesore for Yann and Daniele whose view from the kitchen window once included the lovely vine horizon beyond. I keep pestering Jean-Marc to move the machines, only he reminds me that our masons' bulldozer, flatbed truck, and tractopelle* are already double- and triple-parked at the other end of the yard. "It's nothing," Yann assured me as we returned to the picnic table where I continued my chore. "We are in this
What we are "in" together is this circus of living on a chantier.* But the three "rings" at Yann's house are slowly coming down and, looking at our neighbor's neat yard and clean facade with its newly painted shutters, it is hard to imagine any beastly chaos on the other side. I should mention that at one point Yann's house and our own were part of the same homestead. But in the past decade or two the property was divided, sold, then resold when the last two homeowners went either cinglé* (Yann's seller) or sour in marriage (our seller). I hope the work won't get to us like it did the former owners as I don't want to
go bananas or bust. Enough said, or my mom, who reads this journal and is keen on the council of Florence Scovel Shinn,* will remind me that my words are my wand! I should be careful about what I say and think lest it--poof!--spring to reality, like a prince-turned-frog, before my very eyes!
Back now to our story where we were talking about machines, one of which Yann casually referred to as "une bécane".*
"Bécane, you say? I thought a bécane was a bike."
"It is," Yann confirmed. "But you can call just about any man-operated machine a "bécane." For example, you can call a calculator or a computer a bécane."
"Really?" I chirped back, feeling the magic of words begin to stir within me.
And that word magic, like a fairy godmother's wand, transported me...until where once a woman stood folding sun-dried laundry...there was now but a puff of fairy dust. Just like that, in the blink of my neighbor's eye, I had run down those cinder block stairs and up several others--over to my own ever humming bécane in time to deliver to you today's word before it went bust from my memory bank, or slipped, as on a banana peel, to fall from my mind for good. But we won't talk about bananas. No, we won't go there.
References: la casquette (f) = baseball cap; fastoche = dead easy, a cinch; la charrue (f) = plow (plough); le pulvérisateur (m) = crop duster; le fouloir (m) = grape crusher; le tractopelle (m) = backhoe; le chantier (m) = building site (worth noting that chantier also means "shambles"!); cinglé(e) = screwy, cracked, nuts; Florence Scovel Shinn; une bécane (f) = machine
:: Audio File :: Listen to today's word and quote:
Bécane. Le dictionnaire est une bécane à rêver.
DEVENIR MECENE - BECOME A SUPPORTING MEMBER
Ongoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, please know your donation towards this effort makes all the difference! A contribution by check or via PayPal (links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice
To purchase our memoir, THE LOST GARDENS click here.