Tag Archive for 'Cross Cultural Comments'

just a traffic sign in Paris …

I am sincerely proud to hold French nationality as well as American citizenship. But of course, having a French passport does not make you French.

Parisians are very smart. They can understand this traffic sign as they pass it while driving at the city speed limit of 50km/hour in their approach to the stoplight.  I wonder if it’s on the test for the good-for-a-lifetime “permis de conduire” (permission to drive)?

(at Denfert …)

((Laughing … at ourselves ???))

Deadlines

Deadlines. What a word ! Get it finished by then … or you’re … cooked!

Whether you set deadlines for yourself, or whether someone else sets them for you,  there they are. You can pick any date, any time of day … and you’ve got one ! A deadline. A date and time to be met, to be respected.

Mothers are among the first deadline-makers in our lives. From very, very early on in our childhoods we heard threats about the risks of not finishing on time : «No dessert until you finish your spinach! » or «If you aren’t ready in 5 minutes, we’re leaving without you!» «Time for your bath!»

Fathers could be just as bad but they often used just one pronoun for the word « deadline. » That word was « NOW» as in the imperative : « Listen to your mother. Now ! » (Or else !)

In our carefree worlds as children, we didn’t need to give ourselves deadlines. Somehow or another, nothing was so important that it had to be done, learnt, or finished by bedtime.

Then came school. And we began to encounter authority: the teacher, the one who taught Latin or Spanish or  … English or math … or in fact, anything that required some effort AFTER school.  In one word : homework.

« WORK » the beginning of the end! Not only the imperatives of  « You MUST » but, on top of that, « by Tomorrow!, Capital T. » « By Thursday.» Or else …

As we grew out of childhood and into adolescence and as we managed to meet deadlines or skirt them,  we learnt that a lot of adults were in fact « bluffing » about the dire consequences of not respecting deadlines.

Sometimes that was out of weakness … often, a reprieve, a warning, or the grace of forgiving kindness.

As we matured, we integrated the notion of deadlines into our mental routines. We put them on our agendas and calendars. We realized that they were everywhere. Your car needed its tune-up every 10 000 miles … you needed a tetanus vaccination one year and then again and then every 10 … And … yes… there was a deadline for sending in applications to schools or for work …  not to mention that in additon to your mother and and your father, you had an uncle too … and your Uncle Sam set a date for filing your tax return, too. And for paying.

While others plot out the deadlines they want us to observe, we make our own. Setting our own deadlines and setting deadlines for others is, in fact, the most human of activities. We like to do this so much that we not only set deadlines…. We have learnt to reset them, too. Over and over again. Free choice. Arbitrary? That’s not so sure.

We choose a date, a time, freely. And then we’re free to respect it or not.  We’re free to determine the consequences, set the sanctions and rewards, apply them … or not.

What time is it? 8:15 ? Already! I’d better finish this and post it before it’s too late!

Oh, what a powerful thing a deadline is!

Thomas Jefferson

Thank you, Maira Kalman, for producing this original and edifying work. There are many wonderful blogs. Yours is at the top of the best.

So I’m happy to spread the word. Here’s a link that will take us to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello …

Ben Franklin by Kalman

The first American ambassador to France …

Ben Franklin by Kalman.

What a treat!

I hear you.

I hear you.

Just one short verb to express so much. Hear. Pronounced just like its homonym: here.

I hear you. I understand what you’re saying …

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and I’m paying attention to WHAT you’re saying. It has not only reached my ears … it’s reached my … reason. I’m taking what you’re saying into consideration.

Famous people have said this at some point in their political careers when they’re forced to listen!

Others might be … a little hard of hearing and say this:

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and when it comes to the latest news … or gossip:

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and when we finally meet … one of us just might say :

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“April showers bring May flowers”

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

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And what about my accent?

In “My Fair Lady,” Higgins says: The French don’t care what they do actually, as long as they pronounce it properly. ….

We are sensitive to accents … sensitive to voices …. sensitive to pronunciation … Does anyone speak accentless? I suppose robots do … and then what have you got? A ro–bo–toc–voi–c-e … thank you very much …. ! We’re so much better off with a Southern accent, a NY accent, a French accent, a Scottish accent … and all of these are generally not served alone: there is always a specific vocabulary, often a specific grammar that goes with them.

To Savannah folk: Be on your guard to keep and cultivate your beautiful accents. A lot of people around the world (even in towns beginning with the letter “A” are … so jealous of your voices!

My advice? Be yourself. Use your own voice. Speak clearly … not too fast, please … Express yourself with your personality!

This being said, your accent is secondary to your pronunciation.  The English and Americans tend to like the novelty and sonority of a French accent in English … and vice-versa: Most French like you to keep your charming American or British accent …. if you manage to pronounce fauteuil (armchair) or champignons (mushrooms)  or ratatouille or Limoges correctly … or at least make a sincere effort to do so!

But, mesdames, messieurs, mes amis français, mes amies françaises, j’ai ceci à vous dire: vos voix, vos accents,  sont tellement agréables à l’oreille anglophone, tellement séduisants … You must  be carefulSO, only if you prefer NOT to be SO charming, then work on a perfect Oxford or Cambridge or London accent or a perfect ‘New York’ voice … or a delicious, mint-julep, Vivian Leigh southern drawl … so … whether you are from Paris or Montpellier or Neuilly or Asnières or Vincennes or Chantilly … please don’t trade your own accent for another … just pronounce the “s” at the end of plurals and at the third person and we will love you for that … too.

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Be careful.

On the other hand … pronounce the “S” please !!!

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Do you know what I’m saying?

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Time change

Clocks in Europe moved up overnight for Daylight Savings Time … which could be called Springtime.

Days will be getting longer until the equinox on June 21st. Our days get warmer, lighter, and longer …

A Quirky Car Company, Serving Quirky Customers

A Quirky Car Company, Serving Quirky Customers

I have to admit that I had never heard of the Bristol until today.

The Bristol

and here’s a “bilingual” link to the word … quirky!

saying … telling … speaking … talking …

Four verbs we “do” every day. Probably because we do these things a lot !! Four verbs describing one of our favorite activities. I’ll just leave it to each reader’s imagination for the others.

You might expect me to immediately go into the differences … but I’d like to touch on some common uses of “say” first.

“What can I say?”

Que veux-tu que je te dise ?

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“Do you know what I’m saying?”

Tu me comprends?

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“What would you say if . . .?”

Que diriez-vous si…       Que dirais-tu si …

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“I can’t say for sure.”

Je ne peux rien affirmer. Je ne peux pas te le confirmer (avec certitude).

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“Say when.”

“Arretez-moi.”

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