Archive for the Category: French

Suburban bans

In French the word banlieue [bɑ̃.ljø] can refer to: 1. Circonscription territoriale qui s’étendait à une lieue hors de la ville et dans laquelle un juge pouvait exercer sa juridiction. (Territorial division that stretched a mile out of town and in which a judge could exercise jurisdiction). 2. Territoire et ensemble des localités qui environnent […]

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Rowing your boat

The French equivalent of to go for a row (in a boat), is faire un tour en barque or faire de la barque, and to row (a boat) is ramer, which also means to stake, although if you’re rowing as a sport then it’s faire de l’aviron. A barque is a small boat or rowing […]

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Peripatetic false friends

The English word peripatetic means “tending to walk about; constantly travelling; itinerant; nomadic”. It is also related to Aristotle, his philosophy, and the school of thought he founded. A peripatetic teacher is one who teaches in a number of different schools, and it’s common, at least in the UK, for music teachers and sometimes language […]

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Soggy days

This morning the weather app on my phone told me that it would be a soggy day today. It wasn’t wrong – it rained all morning and much of the afternoon. When I saw the word soggy I started wondering whether days could be described as soggy in other languages. It seems you can talk […]

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Earth apple in the garden dress

An interesting French expression I learnt last week was “pomme de terre dans la robe de jardin” or literally “apple of the earth in the dress of the garden”, which is apparently one way French speakers refer to a baked / jacket potato. Other names include: – pomme de terre au four = lit. “apple […]

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Reflections on the Polyglot Gathering

I got back from the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin late on Monday night. I travelled by train the whole way, which is a bit more expensive than the plane, and takes a few hours longer, but I prefer to travel this way, and you see more. The journey went smoothly, apart from the train from […]

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Polyglot Gathering 2016

I’m currently at the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin. I arrived here on Wednesday evening and have been speaking and hearing lots of different languages. So far I’ve had conversations in English, French, Welsh, German, Irish and Mandarin, and spoken bits and pieces of Spanish, Italian, Russian, Czech, Portuguese, Toki Pona and Esperanto. I’ve also heard […]

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Escroquerie

An interesting French word I learnt yesterday is escroquerie [ɛskʁɔkʁi], which means a swindle or fraud. It comes from escroquer (to swindle). A related word is escroc (villain, baddy). It probably comes from the Italian word scroccare (to eat or live at others’ expense) [source]. Other English equivalents of escroquer include scrounge, sponge, cadge and […]

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Cheese flies

Apparently it’s National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day today. It’s also National Licorice Day, and Be Kind to Lawyers Day, at least in the USA. Is it a special day elsewhere? The equivalent of the grilled cheese sandwich in the UK is known as cheese on toast, and in French it’s known as a Croque Monsieur, […]

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Sabhal Mòr Ostaig

This week I am doing a course in Scottish Gaelic songs at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic college on the Isle of Skye. While all the songs I’m learning are in Gaelic, the class it taught mainly in English, so I don’t get to speak much Gaelic in class. Outside class there are plenty of […]

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