Wednesday, December 12, 2007
1. trough, manger (animals) ; feeding dish (birds)
2. crèche (Christ child's crib)
:: Audio File ::
Hear Jean-Marc pronounce today's French word and proverb: Download mp3 or Wav
Cheval affamé nettoie sa mangeoire.
A starving horse cleans its trough.
In music: 21 Christmas Songs in French and English.
A Day in a French Life...
by Kristin Espinasse
Reading to my Francophone children in their native tongue is a humbling, sometimes humiliating experience. Not only for the "pause pronunciation"—child-issued breaks in which I must stop reading in order to repeat a French word that I have tripped up on—but also for the words that I still do not know: both French... and in English.
Thankfully, not all "readings" are cause for reprimand. De temps en temps, there are eye-opening moments when suddenly, more than a word making sense, the world seems to take on new meaning as well.
It was while reading a chapter called "The birth..." or "La naissance de Jésus" to my daughter that I felt a lump in my throat and a sting in my eyes. An English word with which I've had but a yearly encounter—usually during the holiday season—suddenly defined itself as its French counterpart moved up my vocal chords and exited in a French chorus of sound and meaning. The text preceding the word (indicated between asterisks, below) only served to set the dramatic stage:
("There, in the filth and between the animals, she brought her baby into the world. Then she wrapped him warmly and, as there was no cradle, she put him down in a *feeding trough* so that he could sleep.")
Replacing the word "manger" with "feeding trough", its equivalent, gives the account an even more heartrending effect; "manger" is poetic, while "feeding trough" effectively evokes the brutal bed that was the only resting place for the delicate newborn.
* * *
As for those instances of humiliation—whether in fumbling through French text before a ten-year-old... or in the stories that I have lived and that will never be told—my mind now calls up a peaceful bergerie, wherein an unspoiled baby would come to suffer all humility; this, instead of me.
de temps en temps = from time to time; La Naissance de Jésus = The Birth of Jesus (from the book "Grande Bible Pour Les Enfants," Chantecler edition); la bergerie (f) = shelter (sheepfold)
In books/France: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly:
"This heartbreaking story by a uniquely gifted writer is about transforming pain into creativity, human despair into literary miracle." —Elie Wiesel
Gift ideas and more:
In Games: Play Paris Smarts and explore the city of baguettes, cafes, and fashion! Pick one of the 60 beautiful cards and find out: Which Paris neighborhood makes its own wine? Where can you pick up clothes from last year's runway shows? And how did the "City of Light" get its name?
SmartFrench: Learn French from Real French People
...and music is a great language tool! Check out Marc Lavoine
A Message from Kristi: For twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.
Ways to contribute:
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety