Category: French/English

Posted in Cross Cultural Comments France Food and Wine French/English Off the beaten track Video

In Burgundy, It’s All About Terroir, by Eric Pfanner and Stefana Russell

By  for the New York Times, Published: September 16, 2011

ALOXE-CORTON, FRANCE — In an 18th-century cellar under his family home in this village in Burgundy, Franck Follin-Arbelet pulls the corks on two of his 2009 red wines. Each comes from a vineyard in Aloxe-Corton. Each has the same quality imprimatur, premier cru. Each was made from the same grape variety, pinot noir.

Read the whole report here.

Watch it  here (a bilingual French/English presentation) >>> Romanée-Conti: It’s All About Terroir – The video
Vineyards in Aloxe-Corton and Pernand-Vergelesses in Burgundy. No other wine-growing region in France takes the idea of terroir as seriously.
Stefania Rousselle

Franck Follin-Arbelet, left, at work in Aloxe-Corton.

Stefania Russell


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Posted in Notes on English Cross Cultural Comments Fluency French/English Translation

Traitors: Les Faux Amis (in French, False Friends :)

When I first began teaching English in France, I heard an expression I had never encounterd before: False Friends. What in the world could that mean? Only a Frenchman would know … that he meant look-alikes or even worse, imposters or traitors!

There are quite a few words which, in French and in English, have the same or similar spellings, maybe the same roots but which are not used in the same ways in the two languages.  As with wild mushrooms … some look-alikes … are dangerous.

If you hear a Frenchman say “actually” in English … you can be suspicious. The word slips into a sentence easily and isn’t illogical in most cases. If the Frenchman knows that the word means “in fact” and he uses it that way … that’s fine. BUT if he thinks that “actually” is the faithful translation of the French word “actuellement” … we’re mistaken and into … look-alikes: A fair translation of the idea of “actuellement” would be “now, at the present time.”

We are thus facing not just two words but two different concepts.

The French word, actuel, expresses a concept in TIME; the English word actual expresses the concept of fact, of ACCURACY.


Misunderstandings are born of … assumptions. Beware of look-alikes!

Fortunately … “false” friends aren’t the only kind … There are thousands of real ones, those you can count on, including the TV series …

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Posted in Newsletters Cross Cultural Comments French/English spelling

“ance” and “ence” spelling

I made a huge spelling mistake in yesterday’s  newsletter as well as an obvious typo of the word “thirteen.”  Sherry B., a Savannah gal,  quickly pointed them out. Thanks, Sherry!

Independence: this is the correct spelling in English. Likewise : independent.

Indépendance: this is the French word. Et aussi: indépendant.

In both cases, the notions are the same: without being dependent (in French dépendant).

It’s no surprise that this concept is linked to both America and France. Isn’t “independence” linked to the concepts of  “freedom” and “liberty?”

Associated concepts might include : free thinking; emancipation; non-conformity; autonomy … More?  Add them please!

Maybe the gift of the “Statue of Liberty” was like so many gifts … One reflecting the giver as much as the receiver?

The Declaration of Independence.  Asserting one’s freedom.

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Posted in Notes on English Cross Cultural Comments French/English Reading

Le Livre de l’Hospitalité

Je me suis aperçu, ensuite, que dans sa vulnérabilité, l’étranger ne pouvait tabler que sur l’hospitalité dont ferait preuve, à son égard, autrui.

Tout comme les mots bénéficient de l’hospitalité de la page blanche et l’oiseau, de celle, inconditionnelle, du ciel.

Et c’est l’objet de ce livre.

Mais qu’est-ce que l’hospitalité?

Edmund Jabès.

Le Livre de l’Hospitalité éditions Gallimard, 1991

I later realized that, in his vulnerability, the foreigner could only rely on the hospitality that others would care to show him.

Like words that profit from the hospitality of the blank page, and the bird,  from the unconditional (hospitality) of the sky.

And that is the reason for this book.

But what is hospitality?

(translation Mark Levinson)

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Posted in Notes on English Cross Cultural Comments French/English Keywords

Temperatures: Centigrade and Fahrenheit

It’s easy to translate temperatures between Celsius and Fahrenheit. You just need to know the formula.

Remember these key figures: 0° C = 32°F and 100°C=212°F

Here it is!

Remember these figures: 0° C = 32°F and 100°C=212°F

Remember these: 0° C = 32°F and 100°C=212°F

Remember: 0° C = 32°F and 100°C=212°F

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Posted in Photos Cross Cultural Comments Cinema French/English Paris Favoritz

Copie Conforme = The Original or A Copy?

A brilliant movie … even if the simple is complex here … or vice versa. Or the original is a copy of an original.

If you don’t like mental gymnastics, this is definitely NOT for you. BUT if you enjoy incredibly good acting as well as the charm, wit and emotional soul of Juliette Binoche speaking English, French and Italian fluently … you can’t possibly be disappointed.

((**** Congratulations, Ms. Binoche! Just heard the news! Palme d’Or for Best Actress in Copie Conforme. You deserve it!! ***** Brava!!))

Set in an authentic Tuscan setting, you feel there. It makes you want to be there. Beautifully filmed.

This may appear to be on the fringe of our reality. But it is someone’s reality. And movingly so. Even if … it is a fictional reality. Get it? You don’t? Don’t worry. Art can take time to get to you. The difference between “The” and “A” …

Here’s a posting in English from THE NYT . If you look at the right side of the screen, there is an audio of Juliette Binoche talking about this incredible film experience. She lets you in on the secrets of this masterpiece.

a double bill with kiarostami.

At the Balzac.

on rue Balzac (as in Honoré de ) just off the …

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Posted in Notes on English Cross Cultural Comments French/English Keywords Popular sayings, proverbs & quotes

Necessity is the mother of invention

There’s a proverb that says: “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it!”

So it’s raining. That’s nourishing the earth.

Burt as the French say: “Après la pluie, le beau temps.”

So be it! The sun and fair weather will make our gardens grow!

Another proverb that came up today was one of my mother’s favorites. Sorry … From now on, I’m going to write it this way: Favoritz. Well it was this one:

“Necessity is the mother of invention.”

Mothers like to talk about their children. In the same way that when a woman sits in the passenger seat of a car, she checks the quality of the mirror when the visor is pulled down. Just checking…on the children in the back seat?

Necessity gives birth to invention. When you need something … you find a way to get it, to do it, to solve the problem. We burst with creative power. Inventiveness.

After reading today’s news, good news! We have a very creative and inventive future just ahead of us.

And for a major boost of inventiveness …

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Posted in Notes on English Cross Cultural Comments French/English Keywords Online Language Resources for English Reading

The vocabulary of “Green”

The “Greening of America: An Opportunity for Europe” conference held on Monday, April 12th was hosted by Microsoft at their new Parisian Campus in Issy les Moulineaux. Discussion centered around one major theme: Public and Private Partnerships, local and trans-Atlantic.

US policy is to export know-how and to welcome job creating innovative green projects.

I think French policy is about the same. So … maybe there’s some business to be done.

Most of the conference was in English and I was struck by the vivacity of the language used. I’d say I could understand upwards of 90% of the speeches.  There were a few accents and some unusal pronunciations my ear had to get used to. But they were all informative, rich and intelligent.

Here are a few of the most frequently used terms:

green, sustainable and sustainability, partnerships, cloud (as in cloud computing);

There were lots of comparatives used and especially this one: cleaner. More efficient came out frequently as did the word “new” often as an adjective with both a prefix (re-) and a suffix (able):  renewable.

These conferences are always good for scrabble players : renewability was used about every 15 minutes .

The prefix re- and the sound re- was heard in these words: rewardre-energize.. and recovery….  and responsible.

Innovation was a key word as was the subject: energy. And of course: energy efficient…which is, I learnt,  what the Empire State Building will soon be!

Self-funding is a neat concept. I don’t recall if that came from a “public” or a “private” institution. Of course, investment was used over and over again but I have no recall of the word ‘cost’ … except in the phrase “low-cost.”

“Paperless” “Paper-free” : Someone in the audience translated these as “sans-papiers.”

More than one speaker used a very clear and easy to pronounce expression:

At the end of the day …” This expression,  which means … the end result …. is roughly synonomous with

When all is said and done” or “The bottom line

and in French … maybe something like … Tous comptes faits … En fin de compte … and I will say that today, at the end of the day, there was a lot of goodwill, lots of business cards exchanged and promises made!

I couldn’t help but note that one other word, a word which immigrated into American English from Europe,  was used: Chutzpah!

Bravo to all the participants and thanks to the hosts and sponsors. This is a step in the right direction.

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Posted in About Learning a Foreign Language Cross Cultural Comments France USA French/English Reading

Expatica – Working internationally

Expatica is the international community’s home away from home on the web. It is a must-read for English-speaking expatriates and internationals across Europe. Expatica provides a tailored local news service and essential information on living in, working in or moving to your country of choice. With in-depth features, Expatica brings the international community closer together. Read the Expatica Story.

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