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 love learning these little idioms which you would never learn in French class! I have to admit I was a bit incredulous when I read this one, so I checked it out myself. WordReference is great - and although I was disappointed that there was no discussion there, I did find an interesting one here:

It says a lot that someone would even ask "Is this pejorative?" !!

Thanks for posting. And yet another eye roll for the supposedly sophisticated French.

I always found it odd that the end of line 7 is Villejuif.

I have been here so long, I had forgotten how strange "Villejuif" sounded to me at the beginning! I was curious so I just now looked it up. It turns out that Villejuif's name seems to have nothing to do with Jews, although folk etymology thinks it did.

This article from the town's own site says, "Tradition says that Villejuif was inhabited by Jews, thus its modern name. However, to this day no documents, traces, or archeological evidence has been found of any Jewish place of worship or synagogue. It appears that the actual origin was from a Gallo-Roman domain (villa) on the plain, which belonged to a man named Juvius or Juveus, giving, by derivation, today's Villejuif."

And this names site says, ""The name Villejuif probably does NOT come from 'town of the Jews,' but simply from Villa judea, i.e. villa belonging to Juvius, the name of a Gallo-Roman who [could have] owned a villa there.

"The Abbé Lebeuf has another hypothesis. He thinks that the true Latin name is Villa Gesedum, or Villa Iosedum. This name would have come from a certain village named Gesedum, which existed in the diocese of Paris in the 10th century, although it is impossible today to be sure of its location.

"Another idea comes from J.A. Buchon. 'People have tried to derive this name from Villa Judœa, and they've concluded that it was an ancient residence of Jews; but it appears that the word villa Judœa, used in titles of the 13th century, is due to an incorrect opinion; it comes from a corruption of the words ville Jude, ville Juliette, from the name of a saint whose relics are revered there. However, the idea that Jews, enriched from usury, had acquired almost all the domains of this place, and that many were burned there, prevailed so much that on modern maps and route plans, this town is called Ville-juif."

Thanks for the information about Villejuif. I noticed it recently and was wondering about it.

what's offensive about calling it a little jew?


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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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