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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Comments

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The school cultures in France and in the U.S. are indeed radically different:
- In France, the pupils' desks are lined in neat rows, and you're not supposed to interact in class. The "Maître d'école" is the übermensch and may sometimes stand on a podium. Pupils must listen in silence.
- In the U.S., it's more interactive, with the teacher among the pupils, and multidirectional participation.
This is a caricature of course, but it bears some truth. Raymonde Caroll wrote a fascinating chapter on the subject (of school and children education in general) in her book "Cultural Misunderstandings".

I wish there was some kind of middle ground between the extreme strictness in France and the ridiculous coddling that sometimes happens in the States. I guess I'm just a dreamer.... I guess the strictness wouldn't be so bad if there were some encouragement thrown in from time to time. I wish I could see my husband (who is a teacher) in action; I'd love to see how Prof V. matches up to the man I know at home!

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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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