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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I've been tempted to correct that advert every time I've ever walked past it. I'm very impressed that you actually did!

I love the Wall Street English ads with English bobbies (a bit confusing as I associate Wall Street with the US and not the UK)

And I've had some French people tell me they don't understand my American English.

I have read your post with interest. You say until 10 to 15 years ago French did not have to learn English. Well, in lycées that followed the “modern” curriculum you had to take 2 modern languages – you had too. Usually you had a choice between English and German as a first language, then the second could be the one not chosen, or we could choose between Spanish, Italian and Russian, and I am talking going to school in the 1950s! that is where I learned English by the way, and Italian too (au lycée d'Enghien les Bains.) I guess the people you spoke about stopped à l’école primaire? Or followed the “classic” studies where you had to study Latin or Greek. I know all my friends understood English, but they did not like to speak it as they did not feel fluent enough. As for the US – I miss speaking French as very few people speak it. I never speak it with anyone around here (in Georgia.) One of my American friends suggested that I find blogs with a French name and write a comment in case the blog is bilingual, like in Canada. So far I have been around at least 20+ blogs with a French name and wrote a comment in French (une Femme d’un Certain age, La Vie Quotidienne, etc.) and none of them are in French but in English. I really wonder why they use a French title, do you know why, it’s kind of bizarre?

Hi Vagabonde,

Actually when I said they "didn't have to learn English," I meant, they didn't actually *need* to speak or use English-- they had to learn it in school, of course, the way college-bound Americans still have to "learn a language"; but that is very far from being able to speak it or even read it fluently, I find!

So quite a few of my older friends here have really only learned English in the last five or ten years or so, when they started using it while traveling or working.

It must be lonely never to speak your native language! I feel for you, in la Georgia profonde. I hope it has consolations....I think Americans and other English-speakers think a French title looks more sophisticated and intriguing. I am surprised there are so many of them that are all anglophone, though!

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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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