Tag Archives: french culture

Poisson d’avril

The origins of April Fools’ Day are uncertain, but one theory is that it began in 1852, when France adopted the Gregorian calendar. Before this time, New Year’s Day fell on March 25 rather than January 1. Those who continued to celebrate the old New Year at the beginning of April were called “fools” by their early adopting contemporaries.

Even before this transition, the New Year had long been associated with the term “fool.” In medieval France, the Feast of Fools fell on January 1. At this popular festival hijinks abounded: Christian ritual was burlesquely imitated, a fake pope was elected, and high and low officials swapped jobs for a day. Feast of Fools was likely modeled after the similarly themed pagan festival Saturnalia.

As this French tradition died out during the 16th century, a new one sprung up in the form of April Fools’ Day, or All Fools’ Day. In France, the fooled party is called the poisson d’avril, which literally means “April fish.” The customary prank involves pinning a paper fish, also called the poisson d’avril, to a friend’s back.

~ from the Dictionary.com Blog

Phrases to know for le premier avril:

  • I’m joking. = Je plaisante.
  • We are having a lot of fun. = Nous nous amusons beaucoup.
  • That’s funny. = C’est drôle.
  • You got me! = Touché!
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Stacey Kent

Stacey Kent— jazz singer extraordinaire, gorgeous voice, super smart, CUTE hair— she’s got a lot to offer. And her latest album, The Changing Lights, comes out in America today. Je suis enthousiaste!*

From her website:

Having lived and studied in Paris, like her Grandfather before her, Stacey grew up steeped in French music and literature.  …  Her 2003 album ‘The Boy Next Door’, reached GOLD STATUS in France and her new album includes some of her favourite French songs, this time by songwriter, Serge Gainsbourg.

French songs! If you’re still searching for a valentine for your sweetheart, this could be perfect. Here’s a little sample:

*Note: Speaking of sweethearts, I have learned that to say “je suis excité” conveys a more private form of excitement en français. Appropriate for the bedroom, not for the concert hall.

French at the Olympics

The French have long loved the Olympic Games. French is even the official language of the Olympics. Be sure to listen during the Opening Ceremony tomorrow night (7:30 EST). You’ll get to hear many country names as they are pronounced en français!

The very first Jeux Olympiques d’hiver (Winter Olympic Games) were held in France— in Chamonix, in 1924. France has hosted a total of five Olympic Games (second only to aux Etats-Unis, the United States, which has hosted eight times): 1900 Summer Olympics, in Paris; 1924 Olympics, d’hiver (winter) in Chamonix and été (summer) in Paris (just another reason why Paris was the place to be in the 20s!); 1968 Winter Games in Grenoble; and 1992 Winter Games in Albertville.

I’d say France is due to host again soon, wouldn’t you? Rumor has it they’re planning a bid for either Paris or Nice for the 2024 Summer Games. If they win, I am so there.

Here are some sporty things to say in French:

Je vais au le stade olympique.
I am going to the Olympic stadium.

Je vais pour l’équipe française.
I am going for (rooting for) the French team.

Mon sport préféré est le ski.
My favorite sport is skiing.

Son sport préféré est le patinage artistique.
His/her favorite sport is figure skating.

J’aime jouer au hockey sur glace.
I like to play ice hockey.

Il est sur les podiums.
He is a medal winner. (He is “on the podiums.” Je t’aime!)

Elle a remporté une médaille d’or.
She won a gold medal.

Il a remporté une médaille d’argent.
He won a silver medal.

20140204-130002.jpg

Andrée Joly and Pierre Brunet of France, bronze medallists in pairs figure skating in Chamonix, 1924

Ils ont remporté une médaille de bronze.
They won a bronze medal.

Que le meilleur gagne.
May the best win.

I don’t speak French… yet.

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

But can an old chatte learn a new langue? Let’s hope so!

Je ne parle pas français… mais. I don’t speak French… yet. (Neither does the cat. He just likes how he looks in the beret.)

The purpose of this site is to collect useful and interesting stuff related to learning French.

Here’s the tentative posting schedule:

  • Lundi: livres (books) & learning tools
  • Mardi: le monde moderne (le pop culture)
  • Mercredi: mots (words) et marks (pronunciation, cognates, accent marks)
  • Jeudi: J’ai une surprise!
  • Vendredi: verbes, voyelles, et vocab

If you’re also a student of the language of love, join me. If you see mistakes, school me. If I like you, you may pet me. All comments – English, French, even catty remarks – are welcome.

Bienvenue!