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Entries from May 2008

brouette

Penelope
Me (right) with Penelope Le Masson from the Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore in Paris.

brouette (broo-et) noun, feminine
  : wheelbarrow

La prochaine fois que vous êtes à Paris, arrêtez vous à "La Brouette Rouge".
The next time you're in Paris, stop by the Red Wheelbarrow (bookshop).

The Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore
22, rue St Paul, 75004 Paris. Nearest metro station St Paul

Audio File
Listen to my son, Max, pronounce today's word and example sentence: Download brouette.wav. Download brouette.mp3


.

A_day_in_a_french_life
It happened on the rue Saint-Paul, on a rainy weekday in the Marais.* That frightening feeling was back as I was stopped before a bookstore, its windows chock full of English titles. My aunt and my uncle stood beside me, admiring the vesty vitrine,* where the smart book jackets drew us close enough to the shop window to leave our breathy marks. The sign over the door read: "The Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore".*

"I should go in..." I explained to my family.

The words were delivered forth from out my mouth like orders, commands issuing out of that part of consciousness colored not by feeling, controlled not by phobia, conflicted not by fear. Oh, but the kicking!

One year ago, that same "inner officer" issued similar instructions: Stop into Shakespeare & Company, it commanded. Check to see that they have your book in stock. Without further ceremony, I was dismissed by The Voice, but not before it barked one last order--and this, with a kick in the pants. "En avant!* it thundered.

Heart thumping, palms perspiring, I did as I was told. My mission was made milder by the spontaneous support of a stranger (just moments before, in a nearby cafe, I had met a young American tourist. "Deb" was her name, and on that sunny spring day she would all but hoist me over her shoulders and into the
historic librairie,* going almost as far as to announce me as Her Holiness, the author of .... uh, the AUTHOR of... (here, my new fan and supporter paused, turned from the bookshop assistant, and discreetly ask me--once again--just what was the name of this literary opus that we were building up?).

Though I had been able to walk into that shop on my own two feet, walking out was another matter: a matter of all fours. The book was unknown and the author, unheard of. Like that, Her Holiness disappeared into a puddle of perspiration on the trottoir* just outside the sensational store. (Having taken such pity on me, Deb went on to work for Habitat for Humanity.)

One year later, and my heart was playing table tennis once again. The story was the same, albeit the trottoir was different....

"I should stop in to this bookstore," I repeated, looking up at the charming sign which was cordial and inviting. Just then, my uncle mentioned that he wanted to check out a nearby pastry shop... Taking that as a bad omen, I almost followed him into the patisserie* to fill up on puff pastries stuffed with eau-de-vie.*

Instead, I obeyed those orders issued from the irascible initiator inside of me. My aunt followed me into the shop and I noticed her lips were moving, though I couldn't hear was she was saying. I was on a mission buoyed forth by a thumping heart, the noise of which drowned out all sound.

                                                *     *     *

More than a happy ending, you might say this story has a beginning. Read Meg's take on our bookstore encounter, over at the Red Wheelbarrow blog. And mille mercis to her, and to Penelope LeMasson* for the warm welcome that they offer all of us booklovers.
https://rwbooks.blogspot.com/2008/05/lovely-afternoon-surprise.html


Aunt Meg
That's my Aunt Charmly ... and this is Meg, on the right.
.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~References~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Marais = a neighborhood in the 4th arrondissement of Paris; la vitrine (f) = shop window; The Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore: www.theredwheelbarrow.com/ ; en avant = forward march, get moving!; la librairie (f) = bookshop; le trottoir (m) = sidewalk; la pâtisserie (f) = pastry, cake shop; l'eau-de-vie (f) = brandy, spirits; Penelope Le Masson = Canadian owner of The Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore



~~~~~~~~~~~Shopping~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France
Painless French: grammar, pronunciation, idioms, idiocies (culture) and more!
Songs in French for Children
Lego Make & Create Café Corner:

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. 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 to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

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acrostiche

Poppies
A field of provençal poppies for my mom.

Note: The next word will go out on Thursday...

acrostiche (akro-steesh) noun, masculine
  : acrostic

Here is a French definition, from Le Petit Larousse:
Acrostiche: pièce de vers composée de telle sorte qu'en lisant dans le sens vertical la première lettre de chaque vers on trouve le mot pris pour thème....

=> An acrostic is "a line of poetry composed in such a way that in reading, in the vertical direction, the first letter of each verse, we find the word used as a theme." (Also: a "telestich" spells out a term using the last letter in each word... and a "mesostich" does this using middle letters...)

                                        *     *     *
Add a little French to your own blog, website, desktop, or online network


A_day_in_a_french_life
Yesterday, Mother's Day here in France, began with a conversation in front of the micro-onde,* where my daughter was heating up a cup of water.

"Do you know what today is?" I asked, positively beaming in a frumpy robe and puffy pantoufles.*
"On est quel jour?"* my ten-year-old asked back.
"I don't know... May 24th or fifth..." I replied impatiently, not one to let details rain on my parental parade. "Just guess. Guess what day it is!"

When my daughter looked confused, I upped my antics: widening not only my eyes but also my smile... and pointing exaggeratedly at my motherly profile. If I could have added flashing lights and honking horns to this miming display of maternity--bells, whistles, and even a foghorn--I would have. As it was, my daughter quickly caught on:

"La Fête des Mères!"* Jackie guessed. With that, she opened the microwave door, collected the cup of hot water, and offered it to me... along with some tea and honey. Next, from the garde-manger,* where she had hidden it, she produced this hand-written acrostic:

                  * M A M A N *

M -ajestueuse comme une hirondelle
A -ccueillante comme une musique
M -erveilleuse comme une abeille
A -gréable comme du parfum
N -aturelle comme une coccinelle.*

Studying the unbelievable choice of words, I wondered. How children can see such potential in us is, if not sublime, mysterious. I straightened up my posture, smoothed down my fluffy robe, and ran my fingers through a mop of hair. Re-reading my daughter's poem, I was struck by her vision of me. No longer frumpy or honking or absurd, there I stood: in her eyes I was as lovely as a ladybird.


~~~~~~~~~~~~References~~~~~~~~~~
la micro-onde
(f) = micro-wave; la pantoufle (f) = slipper; On est quel jour? = What's the date?; la fête (f) des mères = Mother's Day; le garde-manger (m) = pantry

Jackie's acrostiche, translated: Maman (Mommy) : Magnificent like a swallow; Welcoming like music; Marvelous like a bee; Pleasant like perfume; Lovely as a ladybird."

AUDIO FILE: (listen to the word and poem in French)
Download acrostiche.mp3
. Download acrostiche.wav

Tune Up Your French: Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Spoken French


~~~~~~~~~~French films, fiction, food, and more...~~~~~~~~
My daughter is currently reading (and recommending) Nicholas on Vacation. Children (and adults) will love it
... read it in French

Pickpocket : Robert Bresson's masterful investigation of crime and redemption tells the story of arrogant, young Michel, who spends his days learning the art of picking pockets in the streets, subway cars, and train stations of Paris.

La Perruche Sugar Cubes imported from France

In music: Le Phare by Yann Tiersen

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. 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 to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Sign-up to receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here


plaisanterie

Green Shutters (c) Kristin Espinasse
If French plumbing could talk... Water Fountain (to Shutters): "Ever heard the one about..."

une plaisanterie (play-zon-tree) noun, feminine
  : joke, jest, prank

You might enjoy "The World's Wackiest French Joke Book"...
"A madcap primer that makes learning French a joking matter. This zany joke-fest makes mastering French vocabulary riotous good fun for your kids ages 10 and up as well as the young at heart... features 500 groan-worthy puns and clever turns of phrase, along with 18 screwball line drawings and fascinating culture notes." Buy the book.

:: Audio File :: (follows, in the "reference" section, below...)


A_day_in_a_french_life
I overheard the following plaisanterie* while driving Max and his friend, Bastien, home from the town of Pontet (where they lost their basketball match):

Bastien: Max, what is the most fruity sport?
Max:  FRUITY sport? I don't know.

Bastien: La boxe française ...car je te mets une "pêche" ... en plein "poire"... et toi, tu tombes dans les "pommes" où tu ne peux plus ramener ta "fraise".....et tout ça pour des "prunes"!

(Translation)
Bastien explained to Max that the fruitiest sport is French boxing: "Because (when I'm boxing) I give you a "peach" ... right there in the "pear" ... and you fall into the "apples" ... where you don't dare show your "strawberry" (or "turn up" around here again)... and all that for a mere "prune"!

                                     *     *     *
To better understand Bastien's blague* here are some fruity French idioms:
   * une pêche (peach) = a "punch" or a "clout"
   * "en plein poire" (pear) = "right in the face"
   * "tomber dans les pommes" = to pass out
   * la fraise = "strawberry" (synonymous with "head")
   * "pour des prunes" ("for plums") = for nothing

We might throw a tomato or two into that fruity French boxing farce.... We could, for example, have the winning boxer (he who is now doing the tutti frutti victory dance, self-satisfied expression on his sweaty "poire" )... we could have him face an unhappy, rooting-for-the-other-guy crowd. Then, because we're a
little bit evil, spoiled sports and all, we could have that crowd "lancer des tomates"* (this, in a kiwi-quick manner before the sour-grape guards arrive -- and give us crab-apples a prune*). If you are confused, that's because this last paragraph was nothing but a salade* - a fruity one at that!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~References~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
une plaisanterie
(f) = joke; blague; lancer des tomates = to throw tomatoes; une prune (f) = slang for "ticket"; une salade (f) = "tossed" tale (lie)

Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the word "plaisanterie". He'll also read Bastien's "most fruity sport" blague, here: Download plaisanterie.mp3 . Download plaisanterie.wav

~~~~~~~~BOOK STORE~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Price of Water in Finistère :

At the age of 55, Swedish writer Bodil Malmsten abandons her native land and settles in Brittany. Embroidered in this memoir are poignant, outraged, thought-provoking observations on a sweeping range of subjects-the elicit pleasures of bargain-hunting, the misery of writer's block, social democracy, racism, tulipomania, the controlling of moles and slugs, death, and the delights of wild weather. Malmsten's passion and humor shine through every episode. Read more, here.


A Pig in Provence: Good Food and Simple Pleasures in the South of France:
Georgeanne Brennan moved to Provence in 1970, seeking a simpler life. She set off on her many adventures in Provençale cuisine by tracking down a herd of goats, a cool workshop, some rennet, and the lost art of making fresh goat cheese. From this first effort throughout her time in Provence, Brennan
transformed from novice fromagère to renowned, James Beard Foundation Award-winning cookbook author and food writer. Order this book, here.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Terms & Expressions:

  par plaisanterie = for fun, for a laugh
  une mauvaise plaisanterie = a silly joke (also: a spiteful trick)
  entendre la plaisanterie = to know how to take a joke
  tourner quelque chose en plaisanterie = to laugh something off
  faire des plaisanteries sur = to joke (at the expense of someone)

~~~~~~~~Shopping~~~~~~~~~~~~
In French film (comedy): The Dinner Game
In stand-up comedy: Coluche (France's beloved comic) and his best political sketches, here (in French)
For the Francophile cook in your life: Eiffel Tower Chocolate Candy Mold

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. 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 to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Sign-up to receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here


gober

Boats (c) Kristin Espinasse)
Marseilles is the setting for today's story. (Photo taken in the fishing village of Callelongue).

Who hasn't had the fantasy of leaving his or her old life behind to start over? What would happen if you gave up your job, city, state, and routine to move to another part of the world? Critically acclaimed writer and aspiring painter James Morgan does just that. Risking everything, he and his wife shed their old, settled life in a lovingly restored house in Little Rock, Arkansas, to travel in the footsteps of Morgan's hero, the painter Henri Matisse, and to find inspiration in Matisse's fierce struggle to live the life he knew he had to live. Part memoir, part travelogue, and part biography of Matisse, Chasing Matisse proves that you don't have to be wealthy to live the life you want; you just have to want it enough. Order "Chasing Matisse", here:

gober (go-bay) verb
  : to swallow, to scarf, to gulp down

Also:
se gober: to think a lot of oneself, to fancy oneself
un gobeur, une gobeuse = one who is gullible

And... ever heard of the word "gobe-mouche"? It means, literally, "fly-gobbler" and it is another word for someone who believes everything he hears. Can't you just picture those flies heading, one by one, into the mouth of the astonished (jaws dropped) listener of fantastic stories?

:: Audio File ::
Listen to my daughter, Jackie, pronounce "gober un oeuf" (gobble an egg): Download gober.mp3 .Download gober.wav

.

A_day_in_a_french_life
Hallelujah and Dieu merci* that I don't have to translate for a living. After re-writing my brother-in-law's story (originally penned in French), and sweating over certain words, I can certainly sympathize with any interpreters who have ever hiccupped before an unfriendly English equivalent....

The "Gober"* story held a wee dilemma or deux* in the translation department... c'est-à-dire*: what might sound all right in French, can sound altogether awkward in English. For this reason, I admit to having experienced a bout of creative amnesia (particularly near the last paragraph) while transcribing today's story. The convoluted truth is: I "forgot" the English equivalents to all of the doubtful words... and that is how they got dumped.

That said, you can see most of the story here now (in English)... or read the entire story (in French) here.

                         "Gober Un Oeuf" by Jacques Espinasse

Back in the beginning of the eighties, already 28 years ago, the southern quarters of Marseilles stretched out into the magnificent neighborhoods of "Mazargues", "Bonneveine", "La Vieille Chapelle", and "La Pointe Rouge"... not to mention "Le Parc du Roy d'Espagne" located near the hills of "Marseilleveyre" beyond which the famous calanques* of Sormiou, Morgiou, and Sugiton bring great joy to the Marseillais.

The neighborhoods, back then, were not yet exploited by those rich, unscrupulous property developers. Over time, though, the builders eventually bought up the great family farms where "natural" vegetables and fruits grew, and where chickens laid their eggs each day, eggs that delighted me twice each week.

My mother, between two piqûres* (she was a district nurse who made house calls) would stop by one of these farms to buy lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, artichokes... and seasonal fruit: strawberries, cherries, peaches, apricots... but what I looked forward to the most, each time she went to the farms, were those fresh eggs--laid that very day. In fact, when I was little, my greatest delight was to "gober un oeuf"!*

That might seem strange, but I did this with the help of a sewing needle, punching a little hole at each end of the egg, then sucking down the precious contents. It is really a very good treat and, what's more, it's all year long--as chickens don't have seasons!

These days, unfortunately, not one of the farms that my mother visited can be found... as apartment buildings have "grown" in the place of vegetables and fruit trees. Once in a while, though, I still have the chance to "gober un oeuf". Fortunately, in the arrière-pays* of Marseilles, one can still find a few of these fermes,* the owners of which knew how to resist the land developers who do not know the pleasure of eating a farm fresh egg.

                                          *     *     *
Pssst: If you liked Jacques' story, why not drop him a line and let him know? Email him at Jacques.Espinasse [AT] gmail.com  (replace [AT] with @).


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~References~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dieu merci = thank God; gober = to gobble; deux = two; c'est-à-dire = that is to say; la calanque (f) = rocky inlet (from the sea); une piqûre (f) = injection; gober un oeuf = to gobble an egg; l'arrière-pays (m) = hinterland; la ferme = farm


~~~~~~~~~~~Shopping~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Painless French: grammar, pronunciation, idioms, idiocies (culture) and more!

Songs in French for Children

Lego Make & Create Café Corner:

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. 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 to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Sign-up to receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here


nom d'emprunt

Jacquesmoto
My brother-in-law, Jacques, a.k.a. "Marcel". Find out why in the following story...


nom d'emprunt (nohm-duhmpruhn) noun, masculine
  : alias (literally: "borrowed name")

Synonyms (beginning in English and ending in French...) include: anonym, pseudonym, un sobriquet (an unofficial name), un "nom de plume" (pen name), and un "nom de guerre" ("war name" assumed name).

                          *     *     *
Check out the Word-A-Day widget and add a little French to your own blog, desktop, or social networking site (Facebook, MySpace, Orkut...): https://www.widgetbox.com/widget/french-word-a-day


A_day_in_a_french_life
I have a new nickname for my brother-in-law and it rhymes with "ink well", "story to tell," and even "sheep's bell" (three concepts, by the way, that a certain Provençal "word painter," who holds the same name, knew so well).


Speaking of word painting (or "the art of writing"), though my  brother-in-law may feel more at home on a motorcycle, "Man of Letters" is a jacket he tried on this past weekend when he put aside his leather riding veste* and picked up a plume.* Perhaps those familiar handlebars served as an écritoire?* ...though you wouldn't know it from his neat handwriting, which, like sheep's bells and ink wells, is rather swell. This brings us back to the name that I've been calling my beau-frère lately, and that'd be.... "Marcel".*

Without further ado, or, as the French say, sans plus de cérémonie... here is my brother-in-law's debut story about a favorite gastronomical pastime. Read it here in French (and soon in English). Note, the following PDF file appears upside down. After clicking open the link, use one of the menus (or navigation bars...) to rotate the document. Je vous souhaite bonne lecture!*

.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~References~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

la veste (f) = jacket; la plume (f) = feather (pen); une écritoire (f) = portable writing desk; Marcel = Marcel Pagnol, 19th 20th century French novelist from Marseilles; Je vous souhaite bonne lecture! = Wishing you happy reading

Good news: The book "Lonely Planet Provence" lists "Words in a French Life" as essential reading! Thank you for ordering a copy of either book.



~~~~~~~~~~~~Shopping~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A Writers Paris: A Guided Journey For The Creative Soul

My Father's Glory & My Mother's Castle: Marcel Pagnol's Memories of Childhood

Spotted in France: A Dog's Life...On the Road

Moleskin Paris Notebook
: "The future is unwritten. Take up your pen and shape it."

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. 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 to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Sign-up to receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here


ado

Creche
A child care center in Flayosc. Seems like yesterday that my son went to the crèche... read on in today's column.

ado (adoh) noun, masculine, feminine
  : teen

(short for un(e) adolescent = teenager)

Note: the audio file feature will return on Monday.
.

A_day_in_a_french_life

                 :: Does "ado" mean adieu to childhood? ::

There is something in the air around here and it smells like Adieu, like goodbye to a time and a place; fleeting and fading... like freckles on a child's face.

It has me dragging my legs to bed while the sun is still shining, or putting too much symbolism into the shape of the odd cloud that floats by my bedroom window. The angst, though passagère,* is palpable, present as a foreign fragrance in the air.

"Do you smell something rotting here?" I ask the boys while rooting around for the culprit, who I suspect is hiding in these kitchen drawers. I wonder about the strange scent: is it a rat's adieu that I am sensing? And yet...the mouse traps are empty....

Max and his friend, Jack, shake their heads, a bit disappointed to have missed a rotting-rodent sighting.

"No, there's nothing there, Mom." Max confirms. "No mice," Jack seconds.
"Are you sure?" I question, giving the kitchen drawers a good tug while searching for the source of the odor.

The boys insist that they can't smell a thing, and I notice how they slip out of the kitchen lest they catch the foul fever that has seized me.

Surely the smell of something "turning" pervades the air? Oh well. I shut the drawers with a heavy sigh and return to the heap of children's clothing that needs sorting. As the giveaway pile grows, that palpable, perfumed something returns....

I pull one of the little t-shirts close and breathe in the scent of Nine-Years-Old. How long has he had this t-shirt? Four years? It was oversized to begin with and now it is easily too small for my son. Why haven't I given it away yet?

I set the shirt aside and curl up into a chair. Staring out the window, I notice the clouds pass even faster than the years have. I get up, turn my back on the clouds, and search the drawers again; this time for sweets. I am going to make a cake and quit staring at Time.

Later that night, my ears perk up when my son calls for me. "Give me a kiss goodnight, Mom?"
"You bet!" I say, wondering whether this might be the next-to-last time he asks.

"You know," I remind my son, pushing a lock of hair out of his face. "You are still a kid."
"Yes, mom... I am still twelve."

Suddenly, the air seems a little lighter, sweeter....
"And you will still be a kid when you turn thirteen...." I remind him.
Max offers a doubtful look.
"No, Mom," Max argues. "I'll be a teenager."

That sweetness lingers for a moment before the scent molecules rearrange themselves once again, putting a bit of spice into their chemical makeup. I now understand what I have been sensing all along, and while I may have mixed feelings about it, one thing's sure: It smells like teen spirit.*

                                *     *     *

*See the French translation for Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit (Ça Sent L'Esprit Ado) at the end of this edition


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~References~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
passagère = brief, passing; Smells Like Teen Spirit = song by the former rock group Nirvana

     Check out the French Word-A-Day widget!:
  https://www.widgetbox.com/widget/french-word-a-day

Book Feature:  Postcards From France

As a junior in high school, Megan McNeill Libby left behind the familiar comforts of suburban New England to live abroad as an exchange student. Now, in this charming collection of thoughts and vignettes, she takes readers of every age on a delightful, memorable tour through her year in France. A few copies remain, here.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Shopping~~~~~~~~~~~~
In French music: Cuisine Non-Stop: Introduction to the French Nouvelle
Generation https://www.amazon.com/o/asin/B0000DB51X/frencwordaday-20

Looking for a Frenchy baby gift? Baby Cie Ballerina dancer 4 piece dinner set &
puzzle: https://www.amazon.com/o/asin/B000NKTO0Y/frencwordaday-20

"Words in a French Life" (read all about my son's childhood)
https://www.amazon.com/o/asin/0743287290/frencwordaday-20

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
ÇA SENT L'ESPRIT ADO

       (select lyrics)

Je me sens stupide et contagieux
Nous voici maintenant, amuse-nous
un mulâtre, un albinos
un moustique, ma libido
...Ouais

SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT

I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now, entertain us
A mullato, an albino
A mosquito, my libido
...Yeah

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. 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 to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Sign-up to receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here


huile de coude

Saintmauricesureygues
A lot of huile de coude will go into polishing up these guys, in Saint-Maurice-Sur-Eygues

huile de coude (weel-deuh-kood) noun, feminine
  : elbow grease

Did you know: the French use more than their elbows to work up a good idiom... they use their wrists and arms, too! Synonyms to "huile de coude" include "huile de bras" (arm oil) and "huile de poignet" (wrist oil).

                                   *     *     *
:: Audio File :: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's word and definition:
Download huile_de_coude.mp3
. Download huile_de_coude.wav

Huile de coude (a.k.a. "huile de bras"): vigueur physique, volonté de bien faire, qui remplace avantageusement l'huile pour graisser les ressorts de notre machine. / Elbow grease (a.k.a. "arm oil): physical vigor, the will to do well, which has the advantage of replacing oil for greasing up the mainsprings of our machine.  --definition from the "Dictionnaire de la langue verte" by Alfred Delvau


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Did you know that "faire un canard," literally means "to do a duck" ... but also refers to dunking sugar lumps in coffee and is the preferred way to get a kick of sugar caffeine in France?... And that "tablette de chocolat" literally means "chocolate bar" but is also the term for a finely muscled male stomach in
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.
..

A_day_in_a_french_life
A second cup of coffee was not going to arrange the jumble of nerve endings that was mine last Sunday morning. Looking around the house, instead of Calm, I saw only Choses-A-Faire!*


Choses-A-Faire and Things-To-Do are two most unwelcome weekend guests, especially on Sunday, a supposed day of rest. I set down the coffee pot and handed my cup to Jean-Marc, who appeared to be in the same nervy predicament as I: tired and on edge. Over-commitment and clutter once again conspired to steal the present moment.

After exchanging a few preliminary snips, snaps, and TAKE THAT'S!, it dawned on me that we had some powerful energy for hire and why waste it in the kitchen when we had two flower beds that needed weeding? Rather than picking on each other, we might pick on dandelions, foxtails, and crabby crabgrass instead!

In the minutes that followed, we exchanged our boxing gloves for garden gants,* put down our pride, picked up pioches,* and set aside just enough righteousness in time to wield a rake.

We said our apologies indirectly, of course...

Me: (backing into Jean-Marc with my wheelbarrow...) Oh... Sorry!
Jean-Marc: Désolé, chérie* (after launching an eyes-wide-with-terror escargot* into the air--missing me by a snail's breath!--only to be reminded that we don't sling snails, we SET them down somewhere else).

By the end of the morning the hippy happy rose hips* were heureuse* and the waist-high weeds were woebegone. "Take that!" I said, pitching another bunch of the mauvaises-herbes* into the wheelbarrow. In their place, sweet-scented flowers now stretched out their once-bundled branches. Ahhhh...

As for our own bundled branches of nerves, good old fashioned elbow grease* did the trick once again.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~References~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
choses à faire = things to do; le gant (m) = glove; une pioche (f) = pick, pickax(e); désolé chérie = sorry, dear; un escargot (m) =snail; rose hip (flower) = églantine (in French) a.k.a. "gratte-cul" ("scratch-ass" errr... "scratch-(yer)-bottom"); heureuse (heureux) = happy; une mauvaise herbe = weed; elbow grease = huile (f) de coude, in French
 
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In French music: French Playground, a musical rendez-vous of fun French and French Creole songs that will delight children of all ages.

Lego Make & Create Café Corner

 

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. 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 to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
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"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

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sein

Valerian
Near the town of Roaix (Vaucluse) poppies mix-n-mingle with valerian (a French cat fave).

In books: The story of John Hu, a lowly but devout Chinese Catholic who in 1722 accompanied a Jesuit missionary on a journey to France -- one that ended with Hu's confinement in a lunatic asylum. At once a triumph of historical detective work and a gripping narrative, The Question of Hu deftly probes the collision of two cultures, with their different definitions of faith, madness, and moral obligation.

sein (sehn [silent (nasal)] "n") noun, masculine

  : breast, bosom; (figurative meaning: midst, center, heart, gulf)

Quote and Pronunciation (hear my daughter, Jackie, read these French words): Download sein.mp3. Download sein.wav

Garde au sein du malheur l'espérance et la foi : Tout pauvre peut trouver un plus pauvre que soi. Keep, in the midst of misfortune, hope and faith: one can always find another who is less fortunate than oneself.
--Juan Manuel

~

A_day_in_a_french_life
On a Saturday morning drive, the kids and I speed past fields of poppies, canals choked with irises, and little roadside perennials, including hollyhocks (the French, I've just discovered, call them "rose trémières"). Now if only I could name the other flowers carpeting the colorful countryside at this time of year....


For this reason, I am on my way to the botanical exposition in the town of Malaucène.* If my children are with me, that's because I have bribed them with cash and not because they are fascinated by the common name for "valériane"* ("lily of Spain" a.k.a "herbe aux chats"*-- something I just found out
myself last week).

When we arrive at Vaison-la-Romaine, and still haven't seen a sign for Malaucène, I grow concerned. "But where is Malaucène?" I question. "Why haven't we seen a sign yet?"

From the back of the car I hear snickering.
"Hey guys. Keep it down!... and keep your eyes peeled for a sign that reads Malaucène!"

(More snickering from the back seat...).

I recognize these snickers: "pronunciation snickers" they are. The sound of Malaucène--as pronounced by a lazy learner of French--has my Francophone children in stitches again.

"Mal-oh-seNNNNN" Max says, correcting my pronunciation. "And not 'mal-oh-SEH(N)'!"

"Sen" and "seh(n)": the one might be suitable pronunciation for a river running through Paris, but the other one, uttered, utterly means "bosom"!

Come-to-think of it, the name "Malaucène" did seem a bit odd... especially when breaking the word down into individual components: mal au cène (sehn?). Then again, that a town might be called "Ache-In-The-Breast" didn't surprise me too much. After all, the French aren't prudes when it comes to naming places (case in point: the French town of "Condom"*... and never mind that Condom doesn't mean condom* in English, the town's name still causes tourists to blush and/or snicker, like those kids in the back of my car...).

A kilometer later, when I still haven't seen any signs to Malaucène, I see a flickering green cross: a pharmacy. "I'm going to pull over and ask for directions to "Malaucène," I explain to the kids.

My son and my daughter exchange amused looks. That's when Max finally offers some direction: "Mom," he suggests. "Just don't ask the pharmacist where 'Boob Ache' is located."



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~References~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Malaucène = town in the Vaucluse; la valériane (f) = valerian (valeriana officinalis, Valerianaceae) a.k.a. "St. George's herb"; l'herbe (f) aux chats = cat mint herb (for its effect, similar to catnip, on cats); Condom = town in the Gers region of France; condom = the French word for condom is "un préservatif"; boob ache = (the French term "mal au sein"--here, the faulty pronunciation for the village "Malaucène"--translates to "pain in the breast"
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Read about how my mom coped with her cancer, while being treated in France, in my book "Words in a French Life"

"The Botanist and the Vintner". In the mid-1860s, grapevines in southeastern France inexplicably began to wither and die. Jules-Émile Planchon, a botanist from Montpellier, was sent out to investigate. Read more, here


Terms & Expressions:
  donner le sein à un enfant = to breast-feed a baby
  le cancer du sein = breast cancer
  aller seins nus = to go topless
  au sein de = in the middle of
  au sein du Père = in the bosom of the Father
  au sein du luxe = in the lap of luxury
  le sein de la terre = the bowels of the earth

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Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. 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 to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

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pagayer

Aveugle
In place of a picture of Ardèche (I didn't have a camera with me in the canoe--see today's story...) here's a picture taken at Giens, near Hyérès, in the South of France.

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Pulitzer Prize-winning author and pioneering cognitive scientist Douglas Hofstadter hints at what led him to pen a deep personal homage to the witty sixteenth-century French poet Clément Marot."Le ton beau de Marot" literally means "The sweet tone of Marot", but to a French ear it suggests "Le tombeau de Marot"-that is, "The tomb of Marot".
;
pagayer (pa-gay-yay)
   : to paddle

:: Audio File :: Listen to today's word: Download pagayer.mp3 . Download pagayer.wav

Example sentence and sound file by Jean-Marc:
     Il faut pagayer pour faire avancer et diriger le canoé.
     You must paddle in order to advance and steer the canoe.

~

A_day_in_a_french_life
There are landscapes in France: rugged, chalky and sharp-edged, yet with tender flowers pushing up through the cracked stone, that stir the soul, and there are words in the French language that make my heart go padam padam padam.* "Pagayer"* is one of them....

"Pagaye!" Jackie shouts, from the middle of our canoe, as we glide down a slippery limestone canyon via the river Ardèche. The canyon walls are dotted with bright yellow wildflowers and, like that, I have lost track of my row-boat duties while admiring Mother Nature.

"Paddle! Paddle! Paddle!" Jackie reminds me as we approach a frothing and gurgling giant disguised as a stretch of river rapids.

"No! DADDY is supposed to paddle!" I shout, remembering the two minute mini-course in river rafting that we took before snapping shut our safety vests. When crossing over the rapids, the instructor told us, we were to leave the paddling to the person at the BACK of the boat, so as to prevent the boat from flipping, something which could lead to noyade*....

"Pagaye! Pagaye! Pagaye!" As my daughter shouts commands, I notice the troubled water ahead of us and my eyes are now bigger than Terror on seeing the white-tipped rapids that threaten to do cartwheels with our pencil-thin boat. Suddenly, I think about all those caves we'd just cruised past and about how the word grotte* is (conveniently???) related to crypt. Panicked, I turn to our wine-fueled navigator, seated in the back of the canoe.

"STEER!" I shout.

"Oh-mon-dieu-oh-mon-dieu-oh-mon-dieu!" I babble. Who knew rivers had gurgling POT HOLES and aren't we about to end up in one?

In supplication, I look up to the sky, beyond the limestone canyon that engulfs us, and say my last mea culpas:  I am sorry for feeding cat food to our dog (but we were out of canine kibbles). I am sorry for writing that story about Jean-Marc in which I called him "Miss France" (chalk it off to post-partum depression in which he always looked so pretty and I, plumpy). I am sorry for feeding my perfect half-sister heaping tablespoons full of calorie-rich peanut butter, while babysitting her, but I was so insecure and jealous about Dad's shiney new family. (Twenty-some years later and I'm over it. Little Sister is still beautiful and now I suspect the peanut butter was good for her complexion. She never did get fat). Finally, God, forgive me for not flossing... I hope my teeth don't fall out... but what good are teeth to us now?...

NOW that we are about to bite into river rock! Oh-mon-dieu-oh-mon-Dieu!

The sound of giggling brings me out of my repenting stupor. When I open my eyes, I notice that the boat-eating "pot holes," and all that gurgling water surrounding them, are now behind us. I reach up and feel a mouthful of teeth, every last quenotte* in place.

"Dieu," I say, "though I can't change the past... or the peanut butter... je promets de passer le fil dentaire ce soir.* Amen."


~~~~~~~~~~~~~References~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

padam padam... = lyrics from a 1951 song by Edith Piaf; pagayer = to paddle; la noyade (f) = drowning; la grotte (f) = cave, grotto; une quenotte (f) = tooth (in child's language); je promets de passer le fil dentaire ce soir = I promise to floss tonight

Ardèche-related book: "A Place in France: an Indian Summer" Meet Nigel and Nippy, who attempt to open an Indian restaurant in France. 

Book: Exercises in French Phonics

Painless French: grammar, pronunciation, idioms, idiocies (culture) and more!

Provence Waffleweave Dishcloth Set

Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. 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 to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

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engueulade

Turkey
A couple of French turkeys, each pouting in his/her own corner après l'engueulade. Photo taken in 2005 at Château Miraval in Correns, France.

"Arguing is to the modern Frenchman what thinking was to Descartes, a proof of existence....Vitupero ergo sum: I bicker, therefore I am." --from the book "Culture Shock! France" by Sally Adamson Taylor

engueulade (ongh-lahd) noun, feminine
  1. argument, shouting match
  2. scolding

Also: a telling-off, bawling out, blowing up, chewing out or "a giving to another of one hell of a bad time". Get the picture?

Idioms & Expressions:
recevoir une engueulade = to be hauled over the coals (to be told off)

"Ils se sont quittés sur une engueulade. They parted after a stinking row."
--quote and translation from the Dictionary of French Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Henry Strutz

Listen to my daughter, Jackie, pronounce today's words and example sentence:
Download engueulade.mp3 . Download engueulade.wav.
..

A_day_in_a_french_life
When Jean-Marc and I were in Paris last month, we stayed at Florence and Olivier's love nest in the onzième.* A "shopping list" posted on the fridge had me admiring the couple's 15-year-old recipe for amour.*  Scribbled on a piece of paper were these essential ingredients:

MA LISTE DES COURSES:

- 1 kg de câlins
- 300 g de caresses
- 2 kg de tendresse
- 1/2 T de bisous
- 0 kg d'engueulades


(MY SHOPPING LIST:)

- 1 kilo of cuddles
- 300 grams of caresses
- 2 kilos of tenderness
- 1/2 T of kisses
- 0 kilos of shouting

One thing that amused be about this list, was the ingredient "engueulades". But, of course! I thought, knowing all along that shouting and spouting somehow measured into real love. But just how much temper... tempered love? I wondered, rechecking the list of ingredients. That's when I noticed the zero allotment...

A little disheartened to realize that the Love Recipe was limited to only sweet ingredients (personally, our marriage "cake" has always included a good measure of salt), I had an inspiration....

Like that, I picked up a virtual crayon* and crossed out that "0" as well as that "kilo". Next, having looked both ways and when the coast was clear, I scribbled in, there--just before the word "engueulade"--this new measure:

"1 heaping, HOLLERING teaspoon!"

I may not be the best cook, but this is one recipe that I have been perfecting ever since cutting a frosty French cake (with the help of my Sometimes Huffy Husband) a decade and a half ago.

Signed,
A Sometimes Hissy Housewife
.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~References~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
le onzième (m) = the "eleventh" district or "arrondissement"; l'amour (m) = love; le crayon (m) = pencil

Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France


~~~~~~~~~~~~Shopping~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In Video: Visions Of France: See the breathtaking beauty of southeastern France from a spectacular vantage point.

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Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. 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 to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

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