Don’t learn French, it’s a mess – Part 4 : Letters you don’t say

You have in English a few letters “you don’t say”, like the K in knife. If French, if you try to speak what your read, you’re dead.

We love useless letters. AND we sprinkled all this with difficulties.

We love the final useless S, and you have to say Paree for Paris (BUT you have to say it for the city of Reims). I know…

Forget the P and the S in Temps (time), and don’t say the C in Tabac (tobacco). Haut (up) is pronunced “Ho”.

Imagine you have to say “I want” : Je veux. OK, you say “Je ve”, that’s all.

“A knot”? Un nœud – just say “Un ne”.

PFfffff…

Monsieur” is worse, because… Oh forget it!

Other cities? You say all the letters of Brest, but forget the final S for Orléans or Calais, OK? Metz : says “mess”. Bruxelles? Well, some say Bruxel, some others Brussel. Rahhhh!

We don’t say the M in Automne, we don’t say the P in Compter (to count), we don’t say the D in Grand or in Dernier, or the G in Long. But we have to say it if it’s féminine : Dernière, “the feminine last”…

Yes, the genre. A car in feminine. Oh hell… that’s another article, right? 🙂

Thanks for reading! Bonne nuit !

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English words I struggle with

Lawmakers concerned about Trump’s mental state summoned a Yale University psychiatry professor who said : “He’s going to unravel, and we are seeing the signs.”

I understand it’s something about collapsing, but I’m not sure. It’s knitting vocabulary, right? When do you say that about a human being? Isn’t this verb a bit positive too (like unravelling a mess)?

I guess that stiff upper lip sounds UK, but I’m not sure? Do you use it in America? Does it mean composure and phlegm like in France, or is it colored with coldness? In French, “le flegme Britannique” is a way to stay calm in all circumstances, even if your house is bombed. Thus there’s an (almost) invisible smile in it.

I ask, because stiff is tough and rigid, right?

Shanty is a mystery. Is it a ruin, a small ruin, a sweet ruin? Isn’t it a little house? Is a shanty town a poor ghetto, or can it be a quiet chalet village for tourists? It’s a sailor’s song too??!

What’s the difference between ruse, trick, cunning?

I have a big problem with reckon. First, it’s a false friend, because “reconnaître” in French is “to acknowledge”. OK, it means to estimate and to consider, but also to think. In this last meaning, does it sound Southern, or do you say it in Massachusets too? Reckon on, reckon with, reckon without : do you SAY them?

To bedight : do decorate. Is it vintage? Never said? Funny?

To diminish, to dwindle : What is the difference? To peter into… When do you use this??

Colloquial and familiar…

Ohhh…

Someone told me one day that to learn a language is an infinite process. Tonight I feel terribly weak.

 

Have a nice day!

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“It wasn’t a mini-tornado, these don’t exist”

As the weather is a bit stormy these days in France, some trees fell, some houses lost their roof, and you read articles in the press telling about mini-tornadoes, with an explicit picture (you can google.fr “mini tornade”).

Immediately, weather specialists stand up in furia and learnedly explain to the community that “It wasn’t a mini-tornado, these don’t exist”. You see their point : categories, how “real” tornadoes appears, etc.

As if you’d slap your little boy in the face because he plays with cars. “It’s not a car, silly, it’s a toy car!“. Bim!

There is something to notice here, a pattern we should watch closely.

At first you want to say “Breathe, buddy”. This thing looks like a mini-tornado, so why can’t people use this word? What’s the point with definitions, here? Isn’t, like a “toy car”, mini itself enough to say “not real”? What if we obey? It’s not a mini tornado. So what?

 

It’s like a cristallization of our problems with words and reality.

  1. Reality is real. Your house really lost its roof, even if mini-tornadoes “don’t exist”. Words are impartation, values – and names are conferred words.
  2. When we think about someone, we have a bunch of labels all ready, and the person disappears under stickers. It is convenient, but wrong.
  3. We often amalgamate the word and the reality, which deprives us from intelligence. A word closes the box, letting us stuck in stupid simplicity.
  4. What else?

 

“Haecceity” is about Labels on your Forehead, from where I copy paste this :

Deleuze says we are more accurately longitudes and latitudes, a group of different speeds and slownesses, an individual, a singularity, constantly inventing grapes of possibilities, a play of forces or encounters.

 

Thanks for reading!

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Instagram : jenamalone

 

 

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“This is BLUE” – A child story

We live in words, our intelligence plays with them constantly. We dialog with them (as good tools!), we think in words and images. So much that it can become a problem. Philosophers (who said Wittgenstein?) thought a lot about this. And we books-lovers like to think about the limitation of our world with words. Poets and photographers (and others) try to evoke “richer” things, moods that can not be completely defined with words – which simplify reality. Words are not enough, and the world (us included) is moving

I talk sometimes with people who work with poor people, homeless or living in a very poor condition. Educators, teachers in special schools, or unpaid helpers who give a few hours from time to time, volunteers.

One of them, a former philosophy teacher, lives in my street. A few days ago she told me she met a little boy who didn’t speak. Not a word, ever : mute. She said this kid had been well taken cared of, but no one was speaking to him.

So she stayed around, for months, speaking to him, reading him stories, never asking for anything. Like “When I come, I’m with you, that’s it”. Like nourishing him with words.

Months later, a morning, she said the kid watched her, pointed out something in a book, and said : “C’est bleu !”.

 

This

Is

Blue

 

Thanks for reading!

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“Help yourself, the sky will help you” – and cats and ducks

“Heaven helps those who help themselves”.

In French it’s not heaven, but… the sky. It will help you. Aide-toi, le ciel t’aidera.

I find it interesting that you use “heaven” in English, instead of God himself. “Heaven helps those who help themselves”. Does that mean that people understand that they can NOT ask God himself to help them (find a place for your car, pass your exam, change your life)? Yep : He has probably other and bigger fish to fry.

In French, we would say “Il a d’autres chats à fouetter” : “He has other cats to whip”.

Really? Yes really.

So… Help yourself, the sky will help you.

Nevertheless :

It seems to be a good advice (even if there’s no God or Heaven or Sky to “help” you). This invitation to act (with an implicit “Instead of complaining”) sounds a little like :

“Move your ass, silly, and maybe you’ll get something”. Okey!

This decision process is a funny thing to study. “To begin, begin”, said the wise man. But how? First, your have to find your goal, right? Then…

  1. Action, go go go, push, push towards your goal, drive your way towards it.
  2. Observe what’s around, find where the flow flows, rotate little things to facilitate flows… towards the goal. The flow. Where it goes. That’s important!

I already wrote something about 2 : The Propensity of Things.

Who says “Help yourself”? Your mother? Your friend? Why? Do they want to help you really? Are they angry of your laziness? What can happen? Where’s YOUR flow? Did you consider it? Or do you constantly work against it?

What’s the worse that could happen? You help yourself, you move, you change things, you try, you… fail?

Well, not THAT a big deal, right? “Y a pas d’quoi casser trois pattes à un canard” is the French way to say “Nothing to write home about” :

That doesn’t break three legs to a duck

Mmhh, makes sense?

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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Acceleration & Ways of laughing : Chronicle 14

Why are my friends mostly women? Because men always want to win. As a man, talking to a man always leads to competition. This is really boring…
And, of course, my female friends almost all say that they prefer to talk with… men. It’s the way the world goes, I suppose…

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Today I learned about the word “Culprit“, and in my mind there’s a confusion with “Guilty”. In French, the word is the same : coupable. It’s a weird feeling to discover two words in a language while you have just one in yours!

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A few days ago I saw a guy I know coming in the street. He didn’t see me, then, as I was parking my bike, he did the Store Front Escape. What I read in this “sudden interest” is “I don’t want to talk to this person”. So be it. Me neither maybe, voilà.

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There’s a Virilio simple dial : “Acceleration leads to accident”. What does that mean? When you examine this pattern, do you think about the guy who drives too fast, progress, or about the whole civilization?

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In this blog I claim to be a pecker , like a bird lacking of culture, casually (and randomly) finding microscopic ideas to share. This strange freedom, weaved with the uneasy but comforting idea that my-english-is-not-good-but-I-try-though… makes it what it is!

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There’s a seesaw (we call this in French un tape-cul : a hit-ass – makes sense?) I find in many authors or artists : it’s a swing between 1/ the anxiety of losing some time and 2/  go with the flow and do nothing special. Always interesting to see how people deal with that, and what maturity brings them (guess in which way)…

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We have this word for “shell”, in French : un coquillage, which seems more magic to me. Une coquille d’œuf : an eggshell. Une coquille d’escargot : a snail shell. What do you find on the shore? A shell or a shellfish? Shells, of course. I wonder if in English it’s “charged” like in French : a word full of the sea, the salty taste, the texture and the frame of shells… Maybe it is! But the word itself is delicious, right? Coquillage…

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Some French words in “age” (pronounce not “age”, but “aj”) are like dreaming in the air at the end of the word : nuage (cloud), sillage (the wake behind a boat)

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You’ll always read that other people “can’t really know you”. We are islands, etc. In fact, I’m sure that it’s not true. Some rare people are able and will “know” you (ha, like “I see you” in Avatar!), or a part of your personality. There’s nothing like someone who gets you. Immediately, love is around, or at least a kind of magic bond, intensity. And I think that one of the tragedies of life is to have someone who is able to see you… and you don’t realize it. You don’t listen…

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There’s this little trick between French and English about this phrase : “I miss you”. We say : “Tu me manques”, because this verb is used the other way round in France. It’s a little like “You miss to me”, or worse : “You lack to me”. I’m sorry, it’s uglily said, but it’s true! And I can’t stop plunging into a meditation about how language structures our reality. “I miss you” is very different, in fact, than “You now are lacking to me”… well… sort of. Just imagine that “miss” in French is the other way round. So sorry 🙂

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Sometimes you know someone very well, but you’re surprised to see this person with unknown people. There’s one thing to watch, then : the way she laughs in front of others. Countenance or composure laughing… where people hear joy, and where you hear timidity, hidden rushes, panic, a way to shut up, a given time to think about things to say and, her eyes constantly checking you, a need for help, support, hand in back, come next to me, I need you, friendship and deep bond reaffirmation. All this… in a laugh.

 

Thanks for reading!

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Gleanpickupping seeds & tools in a Gidon Kremer interview

In a French grey morning of August, I’ve had my coffee with two good slices of brioche, frame window staring, in front of an ominous sky, at the cut out moving trees in the wind, shhhh.

Mind wandering…

According to your job, your availability, your passions, you have different way of “entering contact with reality” :

  • A photographer type will watch around him with the “Can I take a picture here, when, from where?”.
  • A musician type will analyze some new song he hears, decorticating it like an alarm-clock.
  • A poet type will find a good word in a book then might begin to weave a poem in his head.
  • The climber type will watch these city walls… etc…

You… just have to put your “mode on” (and YES, you can have many “modes on” ready in your head, haeccity oblige).

 

I read an interesting interview of Gidon Kremer, violonist, in a classical music magazine. I read this interview with two modes on.

  1. First was : “Find maybe some music to listen to” (I found Schumann, Weinberg, Arvo Pärt, and a Prokofiev melody)…
  2. The other one was my blogger mode : “What little structure, what tool, what tropism can I find in his interview?”.

 

So, well, I learned things about Gidon Kremer himself, his friends, career, evolutions, wonders, etc. He’s an interesting person, the typical clever artist (for me he’s a cousin of Bill Bruford, the drummer).

Eventually, my second “mode on” found quotes, wonders, seeds to plant (here or there) and to meditate on :

  • We live a physical house, but also in some spiritual homes, other “places” we belong to.
  • Playing very few notes is more difficult than pure virtuosity.
  • When you find difficult to play or understand something, you maybe need to find parallel structures in other artists or situations : comparison enrichment.
  • You can explore a field (movies, music) with artists, eras, but also labels or studios, producers, etc. Let’s write something about ECM.
  • Should an artist listen or study what he did in his past? (Kremer never listens what he recorded in previous years).
  • When an artist collaborates, there’s a need of “mutual listening”.
  • Sometimes we miss something. Friends around us indicate things or persons but we don’t listen – when we maybe should.
  • Then and therefore : what is to catch up? How do we? What is “to redeem”, how?
  • “Seeking perfection is the enemy of beauty”

 

Etc etc. I found a few more. Whatever. Each line is a door to a new room, which is full of questions. How to drive “mutual listening”? What becomes virtuosity with very little notes to play? Where the frontier to find between catching up and letting go? Etc…

I found this too : when you have one or many “modes of exploration”, it becomes difficult sometimes to be in direct contact. You ALWAYS have a filter on, and that can be exhausting!

We have to find back a way to quit our introvert-analyzer inner computer to… touch things. I suppose it’s what great artists can do, having the great ability to move it like a lever, a slider, from 0 to 100%, from “I know this without any words” to “Analyze and peel it off to understand it”. Where is yours?

 

Thanks for reading!

 

To write this article, I needed music. I chose Weinberg by Kremer – of course. The YouTube link is under the sleeve, downstairs :

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