Archive for the 'Language' Category

They Parle

Who knew? Among the celebrities who speak French are Angela Davis, Viggo Mortensen, Tommy Lee Jones, Angelina Jolie, Brooke Shields and Bradley Cooper!

The French “Manana”

My least favorite word in the French language was and may still be the word normalement. Normalement basically means “if all goes according to plan”. When you add normalement to a response, it means the thing should happen. For example: Question: « Le magasin est ouvert demain ?» / “The store is open tomorrow?” Response: […]

The Little Jew?!

I just whacked my funny bone and oww did it hurt. I realized I didn’t know how to say “funny bone” in French. None of us are actually Franco-French in my house, and I can’t say it would normally come up in a conversation. So I looked it up on WordReference (which by the way […]

‘Tu’ or ‘Vous’ Made Easy

The Los Angeles Times, a paper whose coverage of France is typically lame, has redeemed itself with this handy and hysterical chart on whom to tutoyer and whom to vouvoyer. Thanks to Polly Vous Francais for spotting!

Be an Argot-naut!

French instructor Sabrina Haouzi and I came up with a list of the most commonly heard argot in Paris. Learn the following, and you’re well on your way to breaking free from the constraints of your classroom French. Chiant – as in “c’est chiant”, meaning “that’s sh*tty” Un mec – a guy Une nana – […]

Learning French Free

There are lots of free ways to learn or improve your French language skills. My favorite is by listening to the radio. Tuning into the news on RFI, France Culture or France Info, all of which stream on the Internet, swells my vocabulary, seemingly by osmosis. It also familiarizes me with different accents and varying […]

Why Do the French Like Easter?

Because it’s a bonne idée.


Why do the French make omelets with just one egg? Because one egg is un oeuf! (Check back tomorrow for an Easter-themed jeu de mots.)


Friendship, like everything else in France, revolves around food.

Which English to Learn?

All the good jobs in France require English. Even a lot of the non-good jobs. Managing international affairs requires English. Important people who don’t speak English well are made fun of in the media. (Can you imagine an American VIP being ridiculed by everyone for making mistakes in his Spanish or her French?) It must be mortifying […]

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