Posts tagged with "french" - Faerye Net 2011-09-22T16:31:12+00:00 Felicity Shoulders These are a few of my favorite words, Part XVIII 2011-09-22T16:31:12+00:00 2011-09-22T16:32:46+00:00 <p>Deuxième Edition Française!</p> <p>In rewatching <em>Am&eacute;lie</em> recently, one of my two favorite films of all time, I was struck afresh by the word &#8216;accabler&#8217;. It&#8217;s one, like our old friend <a href="" target="links">bouleverser</a>, that I reach for in English conversation and whose lack stymies me utterly.</p> <p>It means &#8216;weighed down&#8217; or &#8216;borne down&#8217;, but it&#8217;s often used figuratively: in <em>Am&eacute;lie</em>, the heroine imagines Paris &#8220;accablé de chagrin&#8221; (crushed by woe) at her funeral. The same Greek root, taken as spoils of war by the Romans, gives rise to the French word &#8216;câble&#8217; (for once, exactly what you think it is, English speaker). I always imagine the burdens not just weighing someone down, but as impossible to escape &#8212; connected to them with chains, like the tail of <a href="" target="links">Marley&#8217;s ghost</a>. The closest I&#8217;ve come in English is &#8216;encumbered&#8217;. Not just crushed but hampered and bound. How many things are figuratively fixed to us in just such a way!</p> These are a few of my favorite words, Part XV 2010-02-15T23:56:57+00:00 2010-02-15T23:57:43+00:00 <p>Edition Française.</p> <p>I often regret, as I go through my life, the absence in English of the word &#8220;bouleversé&#8221;. Often, &#8220;bouleversée&#8221;, since I want to say it about myself, and a female subject dictates another &#8216;e&#8217;. In an otherwise English sentence, I feel my mouth forming itself for French. &#8220;It was a simply incredible book,&#8221; I say. &#8220;I was&#8230;&#8221; and I feel the lack of that word, the fact that saying it will, in all likelihood, confuse rather than communicate. Then I remember that there is an analogue, and I finish my sentence, belatedly, &#8220;bowled over.&#8221;</p> <p>&#8220;Bowled over&#8221; is what it means, knocked over by a ball, and I have gone through this cycle of reaching, regret and replacement a hundred times. Still I feel something lacking, despite the perfectly adequate phrase &#8220;bowled over.&#8221; And I think I know now what it is.</p> <p>It&#8217;s the sound. &#8220;Boule&#8221;, intense and self-contained, barreling through the vowel without deviation or dipthong, and then &#8220;versé&#8221;, &#8220;turning&#8221;, turning outward, the sound itself an opening, a release. &#8220;Verser&#8221; means to turn or flip, yes, but also to pour, and that word captures so perfectly the experience of being shaken, awakened, and changed. The projectile of the first syllable shattering your preconceptions like a glass pitcher, so you are poured out to find a new shape, shattered and made new. I love that word.</p> Petty Peevishness VI 2009-01-28T16:37:33+00:00 2009-01-29T14:08:38+00:00 <p>Dear sweet English. You&#8217;re such an enthusiastic language. You like to grab. But it&#8217;s good to take care of the things you borrow from other languages, even if those languages confuse you.</p> <p>It is unacceptable to fail to pronounce consonants in French words and phrases simply because French has more silent letters than English does.</p> <p>It is wrong to pronounce &#8220;the blow of mercy&#8221; &#8220;the blow of grease&#8221;. Especially on national radio. The momentary blindness of wrath could cause a pedant to crash her car.</p> <p><strong>Coup de grace.</strong> Grahss. GrahSSSSSSSS. Please. For automotive safety.</p>