Posts Tagged ‘French’

Going ‘up London’

Unusually, when the latest invite came in from a friend to attend birthday celebrations, I said yes. My favoured response – ‘no’ – had escaped me as the table was being booked for the exact number of attendees and there was no way out.

Ok, I thought, I shall go and I shall have fun and I will make sure my friend Naomi comes with me, to prevent me from making a last minute excuse (my usual way).

And so, the scene was set, I was fashionably late, I had been told not to wear flats (dammit) and I was ready. I was going for a night out ‘Up London.’

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The highlights of the evening were when the DJ played Sean Paul and Blu Cantrell, Breathe. I think I’ve never been so ecstatic in my life. Also, the gay French boy who was dancing nearby who we tried to make friends with – it was pretty good when he came over and said, ‘You’re lovely ladies but I have to dance with these people. I’m not wearing a ring though.’

That was good.

Waiting for the number 33 bus for 26 minutes in Hammersmith was not good though. I repeat, not good.

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Things I learned at Waltham Place (Part 2)

1. The way to cut an onion without all the tears is to first half it, then peel each half, then slice it, leaving you with the two ends. The chemicals that make you cry are released when you cut the end off which has the roots so if you cut that off first, all the chemicals will be released, hence all the sobbing while chopping.

2. Sorrel is way tasty!

3. Nettle soup is surprisingly bright green.

4. Cows will let you know if they like you or not. If you put your hand out low, they will come over and smell it, rather like a dog. If they lick, then you’re in there. If they lick your face, then you’ve really pulled. If, however, they shake their horns at you, it means they definitely do not like you.

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5. Chickens have a self programmed ‘bedtime’. Without any prompting, at the bedtime, all the chickens, on cue, will run to the coop together and go inside to bed.
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6. Commercially produced bread is full of additives, one of which is put in to delay the arrival of mould when it is getting old. Yet it will start to grow mould after just a few days. Homemade bread, however, has no additives and, so far, I have had it for five days and there isn’t even a suggestion of mould.

7. Adrian, the chef at Waltham Place, spent six months working at the Savoy. There were 65 chefs working in the kitchen there and all the cooking terms were in French. You either picked up French very quickly or you got bollocked for doing everything wrong!

P.S. Part 1 can be found here.

Things Danda often says

Me: Put the TV on.
Danda: It won’t fit!

Me: Danda, put the kettle on.
Danda: It won’t fit!

Me: I need a wee.
Danda: I haven’t got one.

(He does a variation of this story every time he sees a cat.)
Danda: I came home the other night and I’d forgotten my keys so I looked through the letterbox and the cat was sitting there so I said, “Let me in,” and he said, “Me… Ow?”

Danda: Ohhhh, do we have to watch another food programme?
Me: Yes.

Danda: The French are revolting.
(This is a reference to the revolution, not just a comment on the French nation.)

(Variations on this are said every time Danda tries something new. It happened yesterday when we went ice skating.)
Danda: Did you see that bloke come running over when I got on the ice then? Did you see him? He come running over and said, “Oi, no professionals!” I said “I’m not.” He said “Well, you should be cause you’d win the world cup at ice skating.”

Danda: Aren’t I the tallest, most handsome man you know?

Danda: Why do girls wear perfume and make up? Cause they smell and they’re ugly.
(I like to think this is a funny little joke…)

Danda: Ah, ah, ah, ah…. *pointing to his open mouth and doing a sad face*
(This means he would like a cup of tea and he has seen me move in the general direction of the kettle.)

Danda: Shall we tidy up, its getting a bit messy.
Me: Do we have to?
Danda: No.
Me: Ok.

This one’s for everyone who’s supported me….

… it’s not really. I’ve not struggled or seen off any adversity to write this blog. I just sit down and write it. But it is for the people who read it. Because that’s amazing. That people read things when I write them. People from all over the world. Just today, my stats page tells me that pageviews came from Korea, Turkey, Brazil, Poland, Greece, Qatar, UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands. That’s just mind blowing. People pooh-pooh the whole technological age, say that social media is not the real world, etc. But I think it’s fantastic. How else would a silly story about a ‘fight’ I had in school be available to those people? I’m not saying people’s lives are greatly enriched by anything I write, nor will I inspire them to transform a new generation of potential world-savers. But lots of things make me giggle. Lots of things in life are very amusing. And if people like it when I point these things out, then that’s enough. My work here is done. I’m off to laugh at a small child pulling a cat’s tail.

Anyway, a few months ago, when I thought to myself, “What is all this blogging nonsense about?” and got involved, it was such a great decision. It’s honestly been so fantastic. As silly as this may sound, it makes me make sure that my life is more exciting. If I have a day free and can’t think of anything to write about, I go on a walk some place interesting, I find somewhere I’ve always passed by but not looked at properly, I photograph something pretty, I read something out of the ordinary. So that I’ll have something interesting to write about. Writing in itself makes me pretty happy and finding good stuff to write about can turn every day into a little adventure.

So thanks for reading, people. I always say I write for myself mainly and numbers aren’t my main priority but when people do actually read it, it feels so great. Well, I don’t need to tell you, you’re all bloggers, you know what I mean.

Ok, that’s my thank you speech over and done with. Now onto the award.

I’d like to thank david-and-emily.com for the Liebster Blog Award. Their blog, Husband & Wife est. 9/18/11,  is great. These guys do an awful lot, on not much sleep, and take exams inbetween it all. Their posts always fill me with feelings of laziness and the thought that I could be doing more.

For this award, I must answer the 11 questions posed to me and ask 11 of my own to 11 nominees. I’m supposed to nominate blogs which have fewer than 200 followers but I don’t know many a lot of them have so I’m just gonna stick in ones I like and hope for the best.

Here goes:

1) Favorite body part to work out and exercise of choice?

I love walking because I love getting to know London and am slowly turning into a total history geek. So I like how the pace of walking let’s you take in everything you’re seeing, better than on a bike when you just whizz by (although I love cycling). Recently I took up swimming quite seriously, and can’t enough of it. I like how my arms feel like they’ve taken a pounding because it makes me think that my bingo wings must be getting smaller…. surely?

2) Job you wish everyone had to do for an entire day in hopes they would gain some perspective?

Cleaning toilets in McDonalds… I’m not sure why. It just came to me. Although, I guess it just makes you appreciate how nice it is not to work in grime. I think actually, something to do with law is important. It makes you understand how and why the law and politics are as they are and why empty statements like, “They should bring back hanging,” don’t make legal or political sense. It really infuriates me, actually, listening to people of the sort who say that, discussing anything remotely important like politics. I physically cannot enter into discussions with them.

3) Favorite Holiday and traditions that go with it – please!  Elaborate!

Holiday? As in a day on which you celebrate e.g. Christmas? Not a holiday I went on to another country? I like Christmas a lot. I read the entire Chronicles of Narnia. I start on the 16th December. They make me feel very magical. That’s it really. The other stuff, like where to spend the day etc, is changeable. So long as I have Narnia, I’m happy.

4) What topic are you really passionate about writing?

I write mostly comedy, I guess, if my writing were to fit into any genre. Lots of things I feel passionate about; genocide, capital punishment, crime and rehabilitation, the importance of understanding between people who are different, (culture, language, ethnicity etc). I don’t necessarily write about these things, though, because I don’t feel it’s the right arena for it or whatever.

5) You wake up in the morning and get a mulligan.  What do you use it on?

My… erm… face? Erm. To pluck my… erm… nose hair?

6) Which teacher motivated you the most or least?

My drama teacher, Miss McGowan. She was just ace. She was teacher age yet she was still fab. Unusual. I just wanted to be in her lessons and be like her. The perfect person to want to be like as floundering 17 year old who just toddled about wanting to be and do everything! I met up with her a few months ago for dinner and it was lovely. She didn’t ruin the illusion of her fabulousness at all. I liked her even more.

7) What lesson learned caught you off guard when you learned it?

Sometimes things can be just as lovely as you wanted them to be. Life and relationships aren’t a constant struggle, like you’re led to believe by older people when you’re younger. Things happen. Of course things happen. I’m not immune to misfortune. You’ve never quite got enough money or you don’t quite agree on everything, or your landlord is rubbish. But whatever. Overall, if you can recognise the things that make you unhappy and banish them, life can be very nice. And is.

8) Finish this sentence: The world would be a better place if everyone:

Considered each other and their own actions a bit more.

9) Grammatical error that drives you batty?

Comma and. For example – I went to the shop, and got some chocolate.

10) Did you take a foreign language in high school/college?  If so what?  If not – did you regret it?

Took French, it’s still quite useful to this day. Not massively useful as I don’t remember much but it doesn’t feel like a foreign language when I hear it or am in France, which makes it easier to attempt.

11) What is something you think people misjudge you for?

Erm… Erm… That I… erm… Ok, this one is quite difficult. My non-ladylike-ness, I guess. I’m not super uncouth or anything. I just don’t do my hair or make-up or wear high heels or anything. I’m too lazy.

Right, enough of my nonsense. Now it’s my turn to quiz my nominees. Here are my nominees.

1) indigo euphoric – This blog is pretty new on the scene and is already providing me with plenty of food for thought. They are the type of posts that I discuss with my friends later in an ‘I totally say/do that too’ type of way

2) Someone Fat Happened – I knew. I just knew when I saw the name of this blog that I was going to like it. Because that’s what happens isn’t it? You’re just going about your business as usual, nothing much going on, then all of a sudden, there are extra rolls. Ridiculous! Who did this to me? This blog captures that feeling exactly. The Korean bathhouse post might be the best thing I’ve read recently.

3) Fitness and Frozen Grapes – I’ve nominated her before and I’m going to nominate her again. Because she’s fab.

4) drinkrunyoga – This blog is fabulous for many reasons, one of them being the amazing before/after pics on a recent wedding anniversary post.

5) St Andrew’s Lynx – The lastest offering, about being imperfect, has stayed in my memory. The photo is beautiful too.

6) Swonderful Smarvellous – Two reasons why this blog is great. 1. The most recent post was about Rome. I am going to Rome in a few days. Hence, I became very excited indeed when reading. 2. The post before that was quotes from Downton Abbey. Amazing.

7) The Unbearable Lightness of Being Me – Little snapshots of life in the Philippines. I went there a few years ago to visit a friend and had a really lovely time so I love remembering that while reading this blog.

8) The Good Greatsby – I just can’t get enough of this blog. My only problem with it is that he doesn’t write often enough. I check here first before I make any important life decisions. His words of wisdom always teach me something.

9) Pa-BLAM! – This blog is great and she’s a great blogger to have on side. I love seeing that she’s commented or liked one of my posts. Although she recently blogged about having a cold, and now I have one…. Suspicious.

10) Humorous Interludes – I love this blog. The horoscopes are very important to me. I am forever grateful to him for his advice about, for example, what to do when on a date with a paleontologist. Which is, like, always. Obviosuly.

11) Better Than IMDB – I always remember his recommendations e.g. if someone suggests a film, I’ll be like, ‘No, I’ve read quite bad reviews about that.’ Then people are like, ‘Where have you read that?’ And I’m not sure. Because I rarely read film reviews in magazines. Then I realise that I’m actually getting the majority of my info from this site!

And my 11 questions to them are as follows:

1) Imagine you are a vegetable. Which one, and why?

2) I have a cold. Can you recommend anything?

3) What is your favourite book? You can only choose one!

4) If you could have one thing you were amazing at, what would it be?

5) What would you chosen Olympic sport be?

6) If you could only eat food from one country for the rest of your life, which one would it be?

7) Do you love tea? If not, do you think it will get in the way of our friendship?

8) You left the house without any trousers/skirt on this morning! Oops! What is your plan of action?

9) How do you feel about cake?

10) You’ve won £1 million on the lottery! How much of it are you willing to donate to a fund for my general wellbeing? (This one is quite important.)

11) If I ask nicely, will you please wear your underwear on the outside of your clothes for the duration of your working day?

Can I have a word? Part 4

Our regular guest blogger tackles the subject of ‘Portmanteau Words’ today.

It’s back to that subject of words and, in this case, some very special words. As you’re probably aware English is a kind of “made up” or mongrel type of language. The purity of whatever language the inhabitants of our island spoke has been watered down (improved?) over the centuries in a number of ways. It’s become a mixture of so many words that have come to us from other cultures and languages around the world. Since the Romans invaded brining their Latin words, more influences have come in from a number of other conquerors: Danes, Vikings, Angles, Saxons, Normans have all been responsible for changes in our language (and place names in particular) over hundreds of years. Immigration has provided more foreign flavours to the mix. Other words have come from the days of the British Empire and the countries it traded with. Some words we’ve taken in without modification (e.g. précis & fiancée from French, apartheid & trek from Afrikaans, ashram from Sanskrit and hundreds more); others have a kind of anglicised version but betray foreign roots. It’s estimated, for example, that 30% of English words have a French origin & 60% have a Latin origin; some duplication because of the Latin origin of some French words. A recent arrival into English (late 19th cent.) is the word safari which comes directly from Swahili where it means “long journey”; more recently Wiki (as in Wikipedia) from the Hawaiian “wiki wiki” meaning fast; Baboushka (also a 1980 song by Kate Bush) from the Russian for grandmother and Gulag which is actually an acronym in Russian for Glavnoye Upravleniye Ispravitelno-trudovykh Lagerey i koloniimoped from the Swedish and short for motor and pedal. And there are, of course, hundreds more.

One of the things you might not have realised is that a word like moped is actually called a “portmanteau” word because it is made up of two other words or shortened versions of them. In fact, if you think about it, the French word porte-manteau is itself made up from two other French words: “porter” (meaning to carry) and “manteau” (meaning cloak). Apparently it was first used, in the context of joined words, by Lewis Carroll in 1871 (Alice Through the Looking Glass). Remember Freedom Literature, when I quoted, from Jabberwocky, these words “Twas brillig, and the slithy toves, Did gyre and gimble in the wabe” – I wonder did you know that “slithy” means lithe & slimy? LC was also responsible for the following portmanteaux: chortled a combination of chuckled & snort; frabjous for fair, fabulous & joyous; mimsy for flimsy & miserable. In 1964, when the country of Tanganika joined with the islands of Zanzibar the new nation was called Tanzania, a portmanteau of the two original names; similarly when Europe and Asia are combined to describe the whole land mass they become the portmanteau Eurasia. If you look back to LLM’s blog, Z is for, you will see the word zonkey – a portmanteau of zebra & donkey; also there is a zorse, a zebra/horse crossbreed and her very own, but rather difficult to conceive (think about it), catterpony. LLM’s blog, Attempting ‘sporty‘, mentioned having started NaNoWriMo which looks very “portmanteau-ish” to me. There was the interesting quidnunc from the K is for knowledge blog: that’s actually a Latin portmanteau taken directly into English. There are, of course, many others along these lines. (Btw, the French though, in their own language, don’t use the word porte-manteau this ‘joined-up words’ way).

Older residents of the UK will remember ‘O level’ exams called G.C.E.s; later came the exams for those not as academically clever – they called them C.S.E.s. Then in the rush to get everyone “on a level playing field” both exams went in the dustbin and the first portmanteau exams arrived in 1988 – the G.C.S.E.s

Probably one of the most recent – anyone heard of a turducken? (Not me!) It apparently arrived into the English language officially in 2010. It’s made by inserting a chicken into a duck, and then into a turkey. (Why would you do that?).

One of the most useless portmanteaux has to be guesstimate – it simply doesn’t help. When would you use it instead of estimate or guess both of which do the job of saying something or some figure is not exact? If you can help me out – please do.
As an aside, I suppose you could call this whole process LLW – lazylanguagewords. Why? Because it means the language (i.e. me & you) doesn’t have to come up with an original new word as such. You need a new word? Just grab a few existing ones and with a bit of welding & a few twiddles – hey presto! (You want to drive and travel – you dravel or drivel.)

The more you look into our language the more examples you can see. It got me thinking about how economical these words are: as I mentioned before, instead of saying something “is a cross between a zebra and a donkey” you just say “it’s a zonkey” – neat eh? Now I think we could use some more of these to save space and time when either speaking or writing. What next? ………Yes, you’ve guessed, I’ve been working on a few.

I was thinking of transport and how easy it would be to describe your journey with some new portmanteau words. Take this sentence for example (when you arrive at a friend’s house and they ask how you did you get here?) – “I came by bus, train and taxi.” This can be “portmanteau-ed” (see how I made a noun/adjective into a verb there?) into “I came bybutratax”. Do you see what I did there? A triple portmanteau! But it’s also very adaptable because if the journey was by train, bus & taxi it becomes trabutax. Switch it round for any combo of the words. If you wanted to include the walk to the bus stop (so walk, bus, train, taxi) you could make wabutratax (a quad portmanteau). If you’re a cyclist and you ride then travel on the train and ride again you could make bitrabi and so on. If you’re going abroad you could add the flight by plane into the mix – so taxi, plane, taxi would be taxplatax.

Now you may want to say how each leg of the journey went: good, bad, rough or whatever. I’ve had some thoughts on this too. So, for example, “I came by trabutax and the journey was gobaro. Did you get it? The journey was good, bad & rough on each of the corresponding legs by train, bus & taxi. If all three legs were good or bad you’d getgogogo or bababa.

Suppose someone serves in a café (or deli) and a customer could ask for alatchesanchoca which is a latte, cheese sandwich & chocolate cake. (Imaginary scenario: Customer to LLM – Can I have a latchesanchoca without the sandwich? LLM grits teeth & thinks: “But then it’s not a latchesanchoca!”) When four friends, each wanting a different drink, come in they could ask for an escaplatam – you got it didn’t you? An espresso, a cappuccino, a latte & an Americano. (Eseseslat = three espressos and a latte and so on.) Easy eh? Imagine the questions you’d get if those were on the menu on the wall: what’s that? Why is an escaplatam so expensive? Are they all mixed together in one cup? Are they definitely all separate? We’re definitely in LLM nightmare territory here? Where was that café again? …..Oh yes, ELM St!

Now, strictly speaking of course, the grammar-savvy among you will know that these words of mine are actually neologisms (that is words that may be in the process of entering common use) rather than actual portmanteaux (plural as per French not portmanteaus as would be in English) because they haven’t actually entered the language yet. (Therefore, to be precise, you can say that I’m making some speculative forays into the world of neologisms rather than inventing actual portmanteaux.) However just as it’s a fine line between genius and madness so it’s also a fine line between neologism and portmanteau! A definitely blurred, but possible, final frontier between invention and reality.

I wonder if you’ve thought of portmanteaux as a kind of ‘final frontier’? Out there on the edge? Are you ready to boldly go where no blogger (linguist?) has gone before? Such an ‘enterprise’ would be quite a trek wouldn’t it? Lots of stuff to Chekov the list and some old stuff to Klingon to. Also you’d need to make sure with the doctor that your “bones” are the real McCoy. Still, no space to go into all that here. (See what I did there?) Remember, as Captain Jean-Luc Picard said to his daughter, “Seize the time, Meribor. Live now; makenow always the most precious time. Now will never come again” — (from the episode calledThe Inner Light). I’m just off to scan those transport suggestions again – “beam me up, Scotty!” (To the Starship Bloggerprise – of course).

But you can see how the language could develop? It’s exciting isn’t it? (Perhaps LLM could revisit her “Things to get excited about” mood before becoming too sporty? New items on menu in café perhaps?) And it’s happening right here! And you read it first here!

Now it’s over to you – perhaps you could have a think and post some of your suggestions in the comments. It would be great to see some readers’ inventions. I’m sure you can come up with some better efforts than mine. (I can speak to Messrs Chambers, Oxford, & Collins once we’ve collected our suggestions.) Let’s get on board the E.S.S. Bloggerpriseand take our language forward to that final frontier– together! (This entry – using the most recent calculation method – is from the Captain’s Log: Stardate 2012.178)