I’ve been having a very French week on Spotify and these are the three playlists I have on rotation (there’s occasionally some overlap, like Carla Bruni’s “Quelqu’un m’a dit”, because of course). MessyNessyChic’s “Don’t Be a Tourist in Paris” soundtrack definitely got me into this latest fixation…Also I am so obsessed with Joe Dassin’s “Et si tu n’existais pas”…
Inspired by a post I reblogged from Tumblr (“Things French parents say to their kids“), here are some phrases I grew up hearing…which I think are more or less common Chinese-parent-isms?
When you do something they don’t approve of…
不听老人言， 吃亏在眼前 | Bù tīng lǎorén yán, chīkuī zài yǎnqián
Don’t listen to elder’s words? Suffering is right in sight.
When you get in their way…
好狗不挡路 | Hǎo gǒu bù dǎng lù
Good dogs don’t block the road.
When you sleep in (maybe too much)…
太阳晒到屁股了 | Tàiyáng shài dào pìgule
Sunshine has reached your butt!
If you had to pick just one method…that isn’t taking a class or moving to that country?
That’s the premise of a great video I watched earlier this year from Talk to Me in Korean, which I’ve been consulting since my high school days. Over the years, the company has grew from a site with online lessons to a whole big production that includes videos, textbooks, and a cafe in Seoul?! But in this video, TTMIK founder Hyunwoo shares just one thing you should do to get better at Korean.
I was excited to dive into New Yorker staff writer Lauren Collins’s new memoir When in French: Love in a Second Language, because I love French and I love love. Though, as existing Amazon reviews have accurately assessed, the book isn’t so much about a neatly tied together love story in France than about a love for French and language learning, facilitated by and amid a serious, multi-cultural, and multi-lingual relationship.
With that expectation in mind, the book will be a fun read for French/second-language learners and language enthusiasts. What it lacks in continuous, focused, satisfying story, the 250-page book makes up for in language-learning #realtalk and wonky delights. Here’s a taste:
…I was intrigued by the blend of rudeness and refinement [in French], the tension between the everyday and the exalted, that characterized the little I knew of the language. “Having your cake and eating it too” was Vouloir le beurre, l’argent, et le cul de la crémière [“To want the butter, the money, and the ass of the dairywoman.”]
Simultaneous interpretation requires almost superhuman neurological coordination. The task is so demanding that, at the United Nations, an interpreter typically works a shift of no more than twenty minutes.
In English, I strained to avoid such [familiar] formulations. But in French, conformity was my goal…I was trying to join in, not to distinguish myself. It was such a happy thing to strive for cliché.
In Russian, you can’t call the sky ‘blue.’ The language obliges its speakers to make a distinction between siniy (dark blue) and goluboy (light blue), so that what is in English one color becomes in Russian two.
I had once interpreted Olivier’s reticence as pessimism, but I now saw the deep romanticism, the hopefulness, of not wanting to overstate or to overpromise. Vous and tu concentrated intimacy by dividing it into distinct shades—the emotional equivalent of two shades of blue. I understood, finally, why it made Olivier happy when I wore makeup; why he didn’t call me his best friend; why I had never hard him burp. Love was not fusion. Je t’aime was enough.
I’m always looking for videos in French with English subtitles, and this week, I lucked out with two. About things I like! Enjoy 🙂
A Paris-based illustrator tells the story of how she got there:
Inside the Marrakesh retreat of Yves Saint Laurent’s former botanist:
I was speaking to my mom on the phone today when I heard and then dwelled on a phrase I know but, as it turns out, don’t really understand.
I’m talking about…
三下五除二 | sān xià wǔ chú èr
I’ve always heard this while I was growing up, and based on context clues, have gathered that it means to do something quickly, decisively, effectively…and that’s essentially what it means. But more interesting is its literal origins, which I only found out after doing some googling today.
As you might be able to tell, there are a lot of numbers in there: 三 (three) 五 (five) 二 (two), so it shouldn’t be too surprising that this idiom comes from a calculation formula for the abacus, which I totally don’t remember how to use…And I’m not sure how that formula works either (3 = 5-2?), but I guess the main point is that doing calculations on an abacus is much faster than using fingers or physical objects…Fun!