From A to Z, Twenty-Six Funny, Weird, Vivid French Expressions

 

AVOIR LA MAIN VERTE

 

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Literally: Have the green hand

Perfect equivalent: Have the green thumb

 

This expression doesn’t need any explanation.

For once, the French and the Americans fully agree.

Almost 🙂

 

See you Monday with the letter N, part of the A to Z challenge!

From A to Z, Twenty-Six Funny, Weird, Vivid French Expressions

LÂCHER LES BASKETS

 

 

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Literally: Let go off the baskets (remember: baskets are sneakers in French)

Best equivalent: Give a break (to someone)

 

Lâche-moi les baskets, for example, would be “give me a break,” or “get off my back.”

 

See you tomorrow for the letter M, part of the A to Z challenge!

 

From A to Z, Twenty-Six Funny, Weird, Vivid French Expressions

C’EST PARTI, MON KIKI!

 

Literally: It left, my Kiki.

Best equivalents: Here we go! We’re off.

 

The noun Kiki in French can also be used to designate the throat. But in this expression, it’s unrelated.

 

See you tomorrow with the letter L, part of the A to Z challenge!

From A to Z, Twenty-Six Funny, Weird, Vivid French Expressions

JALOUX COMME UN POU

 

 

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Literally: As jealous as lice

Best equivalent: Green-eyed, green with envy

Do I need to explain more? Anyone who has dealt with lice knows how territorial the parasites can be.

As always, if you know an American English expression that would match the French expression du jour, go for it!

 

See you tomorrow with the letter K, part of the A to Z challenge!

 

From A to Z, Twenty-Six Funny, Weird, Vivid French Expressions

 

UN VIOLON D’INGRES

 

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Literally: Ingres’s violin

Best equivalent: A hobby

 

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres was a French artist from the 19th century. In addition to painting, he enjoyed playing the violin and was quite a good musician. By extension, anyone who passionately pursues an activity besides a professional career has a Violon d’Ingres.

 

See you tomorrow for the letter J, part of the A to Z challenge!

From A to Z, Twenty-Six Funny, Weird, Vivid French Expressions

 

LA FIN DES HARICOTS

 

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Literally: The end of the French beans

Best equivalents: It is the end of it all. The end of the road, when all hope is lost.

 

One said that the expression took roots in boarding schools, where food was meager. Beans were part of each meal, so when there were not even beans left, that was the end of everything. Others mention origins dating as far back as the Middle Ages where hunger was frequent. In any case, the expression signals a loss of hope and can be used in different contexts. Just a few examples:

When it is obvious that a soccer team won’t possibly catch up with its opponent, when a business can only close, when someone has to go bankrupt, when a relationship is deteriorating so much that there is no hope to salvage it.

 

See you tomorrow for the letter I, part of the A to Z challenge!

 

 

French Friday: Coming Soon To Your Inbox

When I lived in France, I had never considered that one day I would be speaking alternatively in English and French every day of my life, for the rest of my life.

Who would have known that this lifestyle would distance me from my homeland, but also reignite a deeper  connection with some of the most interesting aspects of my mother tongue?

I deliberately use “mother tongue” because it’s through my mother’s way of speaking that I noticed the richly evocative vocabulary that most people in Normandy used. Expressions that triggered visuals infused my mother’s conversations.

When I was about five and heard for example that it was not good de “Casser du sucre sur le dos de quelqu’un,” I literally saw someone breaking lumps of sugar on someone’s back. In American English the best equivalent would be bad-mouthing someone. There is a French equivalent for bad-mouth. But who would insist that it is better than breaking sugar on the back of someone? If my mother spoke about someone who had a tough skin this person was a dur à cuire or hard to cook.

 

It’s only when I moved to California that I started to compile these savourous expressions that have provided me more than just words but sensory feelings.

As much as I love the English language that I find often more effective than French, I adore these French expressions.

Since all languages evolve, some of these French expressions age, fade and even vanish. Others appear. And sometimes, an old one is trendy again.

So without further ado, here is my theme for the 2018 A to Z Challenge:

From A to Z, Twenty-Six Funny, Weird, Vivid French Expressions

 

From April 1st to the 30th and following the alphabet, participants to the challenge post every day but Sundays. I’ll do the same, and I hope these posts will make you smile, laugh, or maybe think that these French people are even stranger than you thought.

Since I keep finding new expressions, I should be able to pursue this challenge for another two years 🙂

Check your Inbox in April! See you there!

 

P.S. The flowers are from my backyard. If you and your home are still in winter mode and miss the spring, I hope they will bring a little bit of color to your own yard.

 

 

French Friday: For Humankind

With the Republican running candidate blasting his opinions about women during his campaign and the #Metoo movement that followed, women have clearly taken the public debate stage.

Whether we appreciate the courage of the women who come forward or fear excesses in the process, it is impossible to ignore the momentum and to deny the need for real equality between genders.

Since it is a very heated debate it’s important, I think, to keep our sense of humor and critical sense as we plow our way along the arduous road.

Just this week, a few events show how the best intentions can fall flat and also how even women can see things very differently.

Pretty much everyone likes Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada. And pretty much everyone noticed him when he corrected a woman who said “manhood” and offered “peoplekind” instead.

Humankind or even humanity would have worked just fine. Despite the fact that Trudeau interrupted a woman while she was speaking, his intentions were no doubt sincere. Inclusion is necessary, but sometimes the desire to achieve it can lead to faux-pas.

Canada is still making genuine efforts. Take this magazine that printed two versions of its latest issue. One is sold 26 cents more than the other to reflect the disparity of salaries between men and women.

In the U.S., Macy’s is soon to introduce a collection of modest clothing and hijabs to capture a slice of the Muslim women’s clothing market.

At the same time in Iran, women are taking their veils off, putting their lives in danger, to obtain the right to choose whatever clothes they wish to wear.

Who is right? Maybe there is no right and wrong when it comes to women’s freedom to be who they want to be.

In any case, women are playing centerstage in these early months of 2018.

Now that I chose to write a month of French expressions for the A to Z Challenge in April, I could only notice that some of the most common French idioms are in fact sexist.

I was tempted to list them but have decided otherwise. I didn’t want to put de l’huile sur le feu, as we say in French (oil on the flame), but instead focus on the delightful aspect of these small words and short expressions. Thanks to my early personal mistakes, I quickly learned that all tell a lot about a country and its culture. Many are not perfectly exchangeable from one language to another. Often, they still have an equivalent. Sometimes, nothing can exactly convey the idea.

To my own surprise, I quickly compiled a first draft of my 2018 list, only missing as always an expression for the letter X.

As I went through the list I noticed that several expressions had something to do with food.

Now, it was telling something about France that men and women alike would agree on.

 

And nothing and nobody can be better than animals to bring smiles to humankind.

 

 

These photos have been taken in my native Normandy, where a few inches of snow fell over the last few days, transforming the landscape in a scenery that I rarely got to enjoy when I lived there as a child.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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