Maîtres mots

  • Il y a longtemps que notre pays est beau mais rude.

       --Newspaper editor Olivier Séguret, 25 January 2012

    The USA are entirely the creation of the accursed race, the French.

       --Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966), writing to Nancy Mitford, 22 May 1957

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French Freedom of Speech

Today the cheminots are:

  • "À nous de vous faire préférer le train!"
    "Voyager autrement"
    "Avec le SNCF, tout est possible"
      --Former ad slogans of the SNCF (French national trains), each in turn quickly dropped

Fun French words

  • ouistiti

    (literally: marmoset)
    Etymology: onomatopoeia from the sound a marmoset makes. Actual meaning: this is what you say in France when you want people to smile for the camera.

    Selon une étude réalisée par le fabricant d’appareils photo Nikon, le « ouistiti » utilisé en France au moment de se faire prendre en photo est le petit mot le plus efficace pour s’assurer un joli sourire.

Who's en colère today?

  • Private sector

    First strike in 43 years at an aeronautics company in Toulouse, Latécoère

    Public sector

    The SNCF (toujours eux), regional train employees in the Lyons area guaranteeing unpleasant travel from the 17th-21st December
    Also yet another strike by Sud-Rail, a particularly truculent SNCF union in the south of France, this time five days in January: 6,7, 21, 22 and 23. "We have no choice." Right.

    Marseilles trams on strike until February

Go back to school in Paris!

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« Practical information for the French general strike on Tuesday 4 April. A good day to stay home. | Main | Morning of the General Strike Day; the doormat »


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Thanks for your information. Most of the posts in the blog is really valuable. Regards

I must admit that I fail to see the comic side of the French politeness formulas. One needs to go beyond the simple translation and try to fathom the depth of the French language.

As Kim mentioned earlier, these formulas are getting shorter as time passes by. This is a reflection of French society changing maybe not for the better. One might also consider that the French language in general makes far finer distinctions on gender and status then the English does.

If the French, as some earlier comments point out are mad, then in comparison, the English speakers are savages.

This is one of those things that proves that a language is also a culture.

To almost every "Anglo-Saxon," French formules de politesse just seem ridiculous, not polite. It's like the way Chinese slogans sound good in Chinese, but just silly in English.

But obviously, this kind of thing goes both ways. I guess that to the French, our own standard "Sincerely" is lacking something important.

It's also interesting that Michel says approvingly that the French language makes fine distinctions on gender and status. To me one of the best things about English is that it doesn't.

But vive la différence!

That's funny and delightful to see how tolerant, respectful and non arrogant english people are.
I imagine there are plenty english expresions that would sound strange in French.

By the way there is e French writer (Courteline) who wrote that " it is so sweet to be called a an idiot by a moron".

Unfortunately, I am not surprised

Funny! yeah, I think in french, we really use too many words to say one simple thing...

As a french people (I'm 24 years old) I'd like to tell you all that I and not only me think that those formulas are definitely absurd and senseless today !! However it seems sooooo important for older people... I guess it will disapear with them. A simple "Thanks for your consideration/ Merci pour votre considération" would be more simple and enough !

I sign off emails with “please accept the assurances of my most distinguished sentiments” in English. I will now begin them with “Dear So&So, I am honoured to humbly solicitate your gracious condescension in a matter of the utmost delicacy and pertinence to the trifling nonsense I am please to call my life” ect etc. Will this work do you think?

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Today's quotation

  • In Paris, the purest virtue is the object of the filthiest slander.

      –Honoré Balzac (1799-1850), in Scènes de la vie privée

    À Paris, la vertu la plus pure est l'objet des plus sales calomnies.

Le petit aperçu d'Ailleurs

  • Annual Geminids meteor shower (shooting stars!) coming this weekend, if it's not too cloudy out at night.

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