French Friday: A Woman. A Jacket. Their Future.

Now that I’ve been away from France for so many years, strange things happen to me. Once in a while, here in the U.S., I doubt of myself when I read words written in my native language.

Like when I spotted joi de vivre. Is joie spelled without an E at the end?

Or when I saw Tina Fey wearing a T-shirt that read ‘La Femme Est Le Future.’ Is futur spelled with an E at the end?

For all things French I ask my husband rather than Google Translator, like my son always suggests me to do. Years abroad have neither affected my husband’s grammar nor spelling skills. His oral and written French are as impeccable as they were when we lived in Paris. He even kept his French accent 🙂

“Of course joie is spelled with an E and futur is spelled without,” he confirmed while checking his email. He also excels at multi tasking.

French spelling has never been an issue for me either. But when French words are misspelled in otherwise extraordinary books or on clothes worn by celebrities, it’s natural to hesitate.

Since the T-shirt ‘La Femme Est Le Future’ is quite popular now, in case you’d like to purchase one I’ll suggest staying away from French Connection. Despite its name, French Connection is a UK-based retailer of fashion clothing which didn’t ace the French class.

I found some T-shirts with the proper spelling here. In case you wonder, ‘La Femme Est Le Futur’ means ‘Women Are the Future.’ Interesting to note that in French the singular still implies all women, while the plural is necessary in English.

As I go on with this post I realize that I have the opportunity to elaborate just a bit about the French noun and adjective ‘futur.’

The adjective futur and the adverbial locution à venir are often synonyms. For example: le futur gouvernement or le gouvernement à venir. Both mean: the future government. Or still dans les années futures or dans les années à venir. Both mean: in the future years, in the years to come.

On the other hand, the nouns le futur and l’avenir, which both mean the future, are not synonyms.

Avenir designates a period of time that people who are alive now will know, while futur hints to a more distant future that belongs to future generations.

For the former meaning, using futur instead of avenir borrows from the English language.

In his book Le Fou d’Elsa, French poet Louis Aragon wrote: “L’avenir de l’homme est la femme” or

Women are men’s future.

That Aragon chose l’avenir instead of le futur shows his optimism regarding the upcoming important role of women in the world.

I want to be as positive as the poet, so I definitely prefer the T-shirt that proclaims ‘l’avenir est féminin’ (the future is female) to ‘la femme est le futur.’

However, I don’t really plan to buy any of these T-shirts.

Many moons ago I owned clothes printed with American words that either I didn’t understand or proved to make no sense.

UCLA, for example, didn’t ring a bell when I wore the university sweatshirt through my last year of high school, and I had no clue that the jacket I wore during my first winter in California advertised a fake New York sport team.

 

 

The UCLA sweatshirt ended its life somewhere in France, but the jacket is stored in a bin, here in the U.S., since it carries many of my early immigration memories.

I’ve always believed the man who told me cheerfully that this Brooklyn-based team my jacket promoted didn’t exist. I’m from Brooklyn, he told me. By the way I also always believed he spoke of a baseball team, until I noticed the sticks and puck when I took the picture for this blog post:)

It’s not like my future depends on it, but my avenir is not as long as it was when I wore this jacket, twenty-seven years ago.

So hockey fans, it’s your turn…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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