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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How could you tell they were Chinese and not Japanese tourists or half Japanese tourists?

There is a not-so-small percentage of foreigners who come to France with a less than perfect command of the language, but really, really want to try and communicate in French. My French is pretty poor. I love coming across people who don't speak any English or maybe just a little. Encounters like that have been some of my most favourite moments.
Most folks will just start speaking English to me straight away. This used to bug me, but now I just ask them to try and speak simple French slowly because I'm trying to practise the language.

@CLEO, they're quite easy to tell apart. 我會講一點兒中文!

The global obsession with and usurpation of English is very dismaying and should be stopped.

The way I feel about it is, it doesn't hurt to have a principal international language, especially one that is as approachable as English; but I also want all existing languages to survive and stay viable.

Most of the French people who complain so much about English would appear to be perfectly happy for French to regain its former dominance as worldwide lingua franca. And it seems a bit hypocritical of them to say that language diversity should be encouraged for its own sake when they've crushed Occitan, Alsatian, Breton and Basque for centuries and are still doing so.

et j'en passe

tl;dr: A common language has a unifying effect.

But maybe you're not French? Which language would *you* prefer to be dominant? Or would you rather have a world where there is no common international language?

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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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