French Charm. No photo of the star rugby player (see today's story...) for you. I hope a photo of a beautiful French woman will do. I met Estelle during my latest photo périple through the town of Montfaucon. At the bakery, Estelle serves chocolate eggs, jelly beans, Tic-Tacs, Hollywood gum, and melt-in-your-mouth money... enough friandises to fill the kids Easter baskets on Sunday! Merci beaucoup, Estelle, for letting me take your photo!
le flair français
: (in Rugby) french flair: a French style of play renowned for its paradoxical combination of rugged physicality and inspired grace. --Wikipedia
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
Last night I was invited to a private club in Marseilles to dine on saumon à loh-zay and listen to an English rugby-man speak en français. Only, as I sat savoring dish after delectable dish, I remembered a lesson my Dad always taught me: nothing is free in life and when one forks down French chocolat like there's no tomorrow... you can be sure "tomorrow" or "Payback Time", will come!
"Payback Time" for me will come soon enough. Next month I will rendre service for that fancy feast. Luckily, I won't have to do dishes or faire la plonge to pay for my meal... a little translation work will take care of the tab.
En fait, if I was invited to last night's Sport & Business Club meet-up, this was in order to prepare for a stint as interpreter for the club's next speaker: American boxer "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler.
As I listened from the audience to the current speaker, Rugby World Cup winner Jonny Wilkinson, I became increasingly uneasy about my "skills" at interpretation. First off, Mr Wilkinson's French seemed perfect to me (I later learned that he had only recently begun French lessons...). He had no need for an interpreter, but held his own during the discussion.
Indeed, I had a hard time keeping up during the Q&A session where currently the English speaker was being asked about the phenomenon known as "French flair". I missed the first part of his response, but when Mr Wilkinson mentioned something about mites, my ears perked up, and I wondered what did bugs have do with French elegance? Indeed, what did flair have to do with football?
And then it hit me: Mr Wilkinson wasn't talking about "mites," instead he was mouthing the French word for myth,which, when properly pronounced, sounds like "meet"—something I'd "interpreted" as "mite")!
Now I am really nervous about my ability to translate for Marvelous Marvin next month. My gaffe went quietly unnoticed, but what if I had verbalized such an embarrassing interpretation?
I left the dinner a little disturbed. On my way down the stairs I passed Jonny Wilkinson, who was talking to one of the organizers. I thought about this being my chance to say hello.... Instead, I continued on in self-doubt:
"Well, what could you possibly say to him?" I argued, "Nice to 'mite' you"?
I no longer trusted myself to speak so much as English to the eloquent Anglophone whose French shone like moonlight over the Rhône, not far from where a lagging language learner soon returned home.
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French Vocabulary & Audio File Download Wave
le flair français = French flair
un périple = a tour, journey
une friandise = a sweet (candy)
le saumon = salmon
loh-zay (pronunciation for "oseille" (f) = sorrel
rendre service = return the favor
faire la plonge = to do the washing-up
en fait = in fact
un invité / une invitée = a guest
en français = in French
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Blogger Espinasse has taken a step backward in the evolution of media by converting selected contents of her Web log into a book. Beginning students of conversational French will profit from many of these brief entries, and supplemental tables of expressions go far to demystify French idioms for anyone wishing to speak and write more fluent French. —Booklist
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