Archive for the Category: French

Thumbs and inches

I discovered today that the French word for thumb, pouce, also means inch, which makes sense as the length of the inch is apparently based on the width of a man’s thumb. Related expressions include: – se tourner les pouces, se rouler les pouces = to twiddle one’s thumbs – manger sur le pouce = […]

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Polyglot chat

Last night there were three of us at the polyglot chat group, which I’ve renamed Bangor Language Learners and which now at different times in a different venue. When I set up the group earlier this year my idea was that it would give me and other polyglots a chance to get together to chat […]

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Which language next?

As today is the 1st October it’s time to change my focus to a different language on my Multilngual Musings blog – but which one? During the past three months I’ve focused on Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Manx – a different one each month – and have found the exercise of writing something and recording […]

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Glances, glimpses and peeks

This week I discovered that the French equivalent of a glance or a peek is un coup d’œil (‘a blow/stroke of the eye’), and to glance/peek is jeter un coup d’œil (‘to thow a stroke of the eye’) which I thought was an interesting way of saying it. Other ways of looking in French include […]

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La gueule enfarinée

I discovered an interesting French expression yesterday while ferreting around in the dictionary – la gueule enfarinée, which literally means ‘the floured mouth’, but actually refers to someone who is ‘wet behind the ears’, i.e. new, untrained, inexperienced, immature, innocent, callow or naive (synonyms from The Chambers Thesaurus). The word gueule usually refers to the […]

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Back in Bangor

I’m now back in Bangor after a very enjoyable and interesting week at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. We learnt 15 songs during the week, so the course wasn’t as intensive as the one I did last year when we learnt twice as many songs, and we learnt about the background of the songs, and even saw […]

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Water lilies, nymphs and blue lotuses

There was talk of ponds and water lilies last night at the French conversation group and I discovered that one French word for water lily is nymphéa [nɛ̃.fe.a], which comes from nymphaea the Latin name for this genus of plants. The Latin word comes from the Ancient Greek word νύμφη (nymphe), which means girl, and […]

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Petit chenapan!

Last night at the French conversation group we were discussing how to say rascal in French, because one of the beers being served last night is called rascal. I found quite a few possible translations, each of which has slightly different meanings: vaurien = good-for-nothing, scoundrel; (to child) petit vaurien ! = you little devil! […]

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Gleann Cholm Cille

This week I’m in Gleann Cholm Cille in Donegal in the north west of Ireland taking part in the summer school in Irish language and culture at Oideas Gael. There are about 100 people here for the summer school and we have Irish language classes in the mornings and can choose from a variety of […]

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Le Grand-Bi

I discovered today the French term for a penny-farthing bicycle (pictured right) is le grand-bi. It is also known as a bicycle, and that was what they were usually called in English when they were popular in the 1880s. The name penny-farthing only came to be used in around 1891. The penny-farthing, which is also […]

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