Monthly Archives: September 2011

L’esprit (d’escalier)

L’esprit (nm) can mean ‘spirit’ but often means ‘mind’: ‘avoir l’esprit lent/vif’ : ‘to be slow/quick witted’. ‘Avoir l’esprit d’escalier’ is to think of a quick reply too late; ‘avoir l’esprit de contradiction’ is to be argumentative, to contradict for its … Continue reading

Posted in Vocabulary | Leave a comment

‘The Leap’ by Simon Parke

The Leap You find me watching a figure standing at the edge of a chasm. I think they’re wondering whether to attempt the leap across. It’s not an impossible leap, but neither is it an easy decision. It seems they … Continue reading

Posted in Writers | Tagged | Leave a comment

Cinq mots

Cinq mots : five words. Once you have passed ‘O’-level French (or whatever it’s called these days!)  there is nothing between you and speaking perfect french but a wider vocabulary and a basic grasp of the subjunctive (see previous entry). … Continue reading

Posted in Vocabulary | Leave a comment

The beautiful subjunctive

No, I am not being sarcastic, and I’ll soon show you the reason I call it that. A big tip: do not study dry verb tables but try to get a grasp of the subjunctive from reading, as the same … Continue reading

Posted in Vocabulary | Leave a comment

Un anniversaire

Yes, I’ve been in London, thank you for asking. A 70(ish)th birthday party in Covent Garden, in fact. You didn’t realize I was that trendy, did you? To his treat my friend invited me and nine other women, and a great … Continue reading

Posted in Vocabulary | Leave a comment

Au fur et…

‘Au fur et à mesure’. There is no point in trying to make a literal translation of this because there isn’t one. But the whole phrase can translate as: ‘as (one goes along), gradually).

Posted in Vocabulary | Leave a comment

Les carottes…

‘Les carottes râpées’ are, in fact, ‘grated carrots’. My entries on this blog are not always flippant. And for those of you who have not been paying attention, ‘flippant’ is a perfect example of a ‘false friend’. The French ‘flippant(es)’ … Continue reading

Posted in Vocabulary | Leave a comment


Thank you to Malcolm Rigg for pointing out that ‘my mother-in-law is formidable’  becomes a compliment in French. Put the stress on the third syllable, and the French ‘formidable’ instantly transforms your mother-in-law to: amazing, fantastic, tremendous. If Malcom Rigg sends me … Continue reading

Posted in Vocabulary | Leave a comment

Une nuit blanche…

‘Une nuit blanche’, literally ‘a white night’, is a sleepless night. I don’t know why I should have been awake, on and off, between 2am and 4am last night as my conscience is (relatively) clear but I ended up listening … Continue reading

Posted in Vocabulary | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Un Jour Mémorable…

Je viens de recevoir 400 copies de mon nouveau livre: “False Friends: Faux Amis: Book TWO”: I have just received 400 (shiny) new copies of “False Friends: Faux Amis: Book TWO”. After months of waiting, this is a red-letter day … Continue reading

Posted in Book Two | Tagged , , | Leave a comment