“April showers bring May flowers”

Global warming or not …. here’s a … springtime saying:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Newsletter: 27 April, 2011

Who values life more than the French? Who else has an expression ingrained in the language which says:  “Il n’y a pas mort d’homme.”

Literally, this could be translated as ‘No one died from it.” but it is most usually applied to put a situation in perspective and show that whatever happened, though not the positive, desired result, isn’t catastrophic.

In a world where there seems to be an immature tendency towards sensationalism, where the minor masquerades as the major and in which we are shocked numb by the repetition of history, this little expression which says “OK, we’ll get over it – It could have been worse” puts everything in its right perspective.

“Yes, it could have been worse.”

“Could have been better… Could have been worse.”

In any case, it wasn’t so serious that someone lost what was most precious; his or her life; the life of a loved, cherished one.

We tried … We didn’t succeed … but … so what? You’re still here and kicking, aren’t you? And so am I!

“Ce n’est pas grave.” It’s just not so serious. No need to get upset over it. No need to fret, to worry, to pout, to complain, to cry, to weep. It’s not the end of the the world.

And certainly no cause for mourning.

In French, there’s another saying that says:

“Il faut appeler un chat un chat.”

For parrots, freedom is just another word

This piece by Elliot Silberberg was published in today’s IHT. Thank you, Elliot!

If you like the Paris Savannah Connection, you’ll enjoy it!

For parrots, freedom is just another word.

Sidney Lumet

From The Last Word on the New York Times

The Brain: The Inside Story

There is an exhibit on at the American Museum of Natural History in new York that would make the trip worthwhile – if only for that!

But you can also get an incredible introduction to the show right here … The Brain: The Inside Story  or you can go straight to

Your Sensing Brain,    Your Emotional Brain,     Your Thinking Brain,     Your Changing Brain,


The 21st century Brain.

The adjective is brainy. That means smart, real smart.  Apparently, we only use a small part of it. You’re smarter than you think!

How to Shop in Paris

Here’s the inside story … from the New York Times.

Newsletter: 17 April 2011

As some of you know,  I’ve developed a vey specific method to deal with a fundamental language issue: forgetfulness.

The method is simple enough. We start with a word or a concept that’s used in everyday speech. It can be an adjective like “hot,” a verb like “to sit down” or even an adverb like “forward” or a preposition like “on.” It could also be a noun like “ceiling” or “night” or a pronoun like “us” or “here.”

What we then do is explore our memories for the opposites of these words. Sometimes the contrary comes instantaneously while for others, it takes a moment or two and for some, we just can’t find them even though we … “know” them.

Where are these words we can’t find?

Assuming they’re not new, never-encountered words but merely inactive or latent, are they just lost in our memories – covered in dust, or rusty … like an old bicycle in the back of the garage or is there some other psycho-linguistic reason we can’t recall them? Do we know them … but ignore them?

It seems that most of the time, these words we “know” but can’t remember – or seem to have forgotten – have fallen asleep … and like Sleeping Beauty who wakes up with a kiss from her Prince Charming, only need their complementary partners, their “other halves” to wake them up and come back to life!

And when this waking up happens, we’re bringing something up from our unconscious to our consciousness. And what do you know? Recognition happens.

Déjà vu?

Jargon … Mafia Style

Every activity has its own specific language habits, short cuts, terms which often reflect frequently used concepts.

So unless you’re in touch with some specific world, you probably wouldn’t know the lingo. So, for those of you who need to brush up on some heavy slang … here’s a lesson from what’s happening in a New York courtroon: Mafia Talk.

Visiting Savannah

It’s getting almost as warm in Paris this April as it is in Savannah. Want to have a short visit?

Try right here: Visiting Savannah, from the travel section of the New York Times.

“jalouser – jaloux – jalouse – jalousie” … jealousy and envy …

is a French verb and can even be a reflexive one: “se jalouser” …  It could have something to do with rivalry. English has a colourful expression … “green with envy!”

In a smallish community, Anglo Saxons sometimes think in terms of “keeping up with the Joneses” which idiomatically expresses the notion of being envious of someone else’s visible signs of prosperity. Which leads us back to the words desire, and hence, a state of unsatisfied desire, or insatisfaction leading to want … but quite far from … need or necessary.

English has two adjectives, necessarily unsexed: jealous and envious; French has the masculine jaloux (5 400 000 hits in Google) and  feminine : jalouse (2 890 000 hits in Google) – Quite a big difference but maybe there are historical and literary reasons for these statistics.  For the record, jealous shows up about 51 000 000 times while envious appears almost 8 000 000 times – but that again, may be due to the effort required to pronounce three syllables rather than just 2 …  or because English is so predominant nowadays. Unless it has something to do with highly effective advertising and insatiable consumerism.