Archive for the 'Language' Category

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 […]


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 […]

Free: Food Dictionary Download!

Passé simple? No problem. Irregular verbs? Bring ’em on. But when it comes to French words on restaurant menus, I’m forever. Have you, too, settled for the steak frites because you had no clue what aïgo bouido, gargouillau and macaire mean? Well, we’re finally in luck. The new Kindle e-book A French Dictionary of Food […]

Gym Dandy

The fact that French people are not as fitness-obsessed as Americans is evident when you look at a schedule of classes for a gym: all the names are English or adaptations. A French friend of mine told me she takes “gym tonic,” “le fitness” and “le stretching” classes. Maybe the French avoid gyms because they […]

Customer Service

No, no one said “hello” to me at Castorama when I visited last week. Just the same sour faces looking put-out by my question of which aisle for brooms. Good luck with the customer service machine, Casto (and with your grammar).

Deciphering French Menus

Trying to find a decent place to eat in Paris is only half the battle. Then you have to figure out what’s on the menu. Even when you’re fluent in French it’s not always easy to understand exactly what to expect in a dish when you order, even if you’re sure it’s “something with duck […]


I’m all for the juice craze, which shows signs of taking off in Paris. But the early adopters may want to run their business names by an Anglophone before hiring a sign-maker!

Parlez-Vous Aspirateur?

This is a first. We are all used to selecting from English or Spanish when calling those annoying automated systems when trying to get customer service. Today I called Hoover, in the US, and they offered English, Spanish or French!

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