Sunday, February 29, 2004

French Word of the Day February 2004

Sent: Friday, February 27, 2004 8:04 AM

Unusual 'letters' sometimes used in French.

œ: "e dans l'o" ("e inside an o"). Used in some common words like œil (eye) œuf (egg) nœud (knot) cœur (heart) mœurs (customs, lifestyle, habits, morals) and a handful of words with a Greek origin (œstrogène, œsophage, œnologie...)

æ: "e dans l'a" ("e inside an a"). Very few examples, most coming from Latin words, like ex æquo, curriculum vitæ or Lætitia.

Both are not letters per se, but typographical concatenations that indicate the two letters are not pronounced as they would usually be.

E.g. in "coexister", "oe" is pronounced "oh -ey", whereas it is pronounced "er" in œuf

In "aérien", "ae" is pronounced "ah -ey", whereas it is pronounced "ay" in ex æquo

Sent: Thursday, February 26, 2004 7:53 AM

Back by popular demand... the French swearword of the day. After all, swearing is an integral part of the French language.

faire chier quelqu'un = to piss somebody off

se faire chier (reflective verb) = to be bored to death

E.g. ça me fait chier = it pisses me off

je me fais chier = I'm bored

Fais pas chier! = Don't piss me off!

Sent: Wednesday, February 25, 2004 8:05 AM

(un) mariage = means both "wedding" and "marriage"

E.g. c'est le mariage de la carpe et du lapin = it's a mismatch (literally: it's like a carp and a rabbit getting married)

And in related news... I learned something about marriage in France today:

Sent: Tuesday, February 24, 2004 8:39 AM

Spelling pitfalls:

(une) danse = dance

(une) transe = trance

Valid combinations of these two words are left as an exercise. Oooh, another one:

(un) exercice = exercise

On second thought, dance and trance are actually used in French, but only to refer to musical styles.

Sent: Monday, February 23, 2004 8:25 AM

(un) cachet =

a tablet. E.g. un cachet d'aspirine = an aspirin

a seal/stamp. E.g. le cachet de la poste = a postmark

style, cachet. E.g. avoir du cachet = to have style

Sent: Friday, February 20, 2004 9:32 AM

(un) médicament = medicine, drug

Sent: Thursday, February 19, 2004 7:50 AM

(un) Euro = a Euro ("eu" is pronounced like the vowel sound in "er")

Speaking of currency, in related news:

Sent: Wednesday, February 18, 2004 8:28 AM

Une fois n'est pas coutume... For once, a swearword. To be used with caution (although...)

(une) putain = a hooker

Most often used as an exclamation to indicate some level of discontent :-)

Putain! = Sh*t! / F*ck!

Can also be abbreviated into P'tain! or 'tain!

And can also be used to qualify a noun, as in:

Putain de journée! = What a f*cking day!

Putain de merde! = F*ck!

Sent: Tuesday, February 17, 2004 9:08 AM

(un) aléa = a hazard

e.g. les aléas du métier = occupational hazards

(un) métier = a job, profession

Sent: Monday, February 16, 2004 8:20 AM

How the new words make it into the French language... today: pourriel

First, there needed to be a new word to get rid of the all-too-English "(e)mail". A first attempt by the Académie Française just changed the spelling into mél or mel, but that was apparently still too close to English. Then there was courriel, contraction of courrier électronique (electronic mail), that had been used in Quebec for some time and was promptly imported. When "spam" started gaining popularity, there obviously had to be a move to come up with a replacement, if possible longer and funnier. And again, France turned to Quebec and adopted pourriel, ingenious merging of pourri (rotten) and courriel.

Not to sound like French is such a closed language though, it's interesting to look at the new foreign words that were recently officially added, and at the mandate of the Académie Française

Sent: Friday, February 13, 2004 8:24 AM

la Saint Valentin = Valentine's Day

Sent: Thursday, February 12, 2004 8:35 AM

(une) fée = a fairy

(le) logis = home, but barely used except in a couple of expressions like:

une fée du logis = a perfect housewife

Sent: Wednesday, February 11, 2004 7:47 AM

(une) métonymie = metonymy (figure of speech in which a word is substituted for another with which it is closely associated)

(une) synecdoque = synecdoche (figure of speech in which a part is used for the whole, or vice-versa)

un verre = a glass, but also metonymically (yes, I checked, it's a word) refers to a drink (e.g. prendre un verre = to have a drink)

le fer = iron, but also synecdochically (I thought I was making it up but no, this one also exists) refers to a sword (e.g. croiser le fer = to cross swords)

Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2004 8:18 AM

R.A.S. = rien à signaler = nothing to report

Sent: Monday, February 09, 2004 9:13 AM

(un) torchon = cloth, towel

foie gras au torchon refers to a recipe where the foie gras ("fatty liver" of a duck or goose) is tightly wrapped in a towel, then poached in water, wine or any type of liquor to give it a subtle extra flavor. An alternative is to pack salt and pepper in the towel, which will slowly "cook" the foie over time.

Ok now I'm hungry.

Sent: Friday, February 06, 2004 8:37 AM

vendredi = Friday

(la paresse = laziness)

Sent: Thursday, February 05, 2004 7:28 AM

(une) tête = a head

Expressions with tête:

se mettre une tête = to get drunk

prendre la tête (à quelqu'un) = to piss somebody off

en tête-à-tête = privately, one-on-one

faire la tête = to be sulking, not to talk to someone

(to be continued...)

Sent: Wednesday, February 04, 2004 8:01 AM

(un) feu follet = will-o'-the-wisp

I am not sure whether the adjectif "follet" has any other usage than this one.

Sent: Tuesday, February 03, 2004 11:09 AM

Subject: RE: French artist of the day

Telepopmusik. Another one of those chillout electronic-types bands.

Sent: Sunday, February 01, 2004 9:48 PM

Allemagne = Germany

allemand / allemande = German

And the related piece of stupid French news: