March 16th, 2011 | Comments Off on I will be learning French forever, part 2324

I think I can finally remember the meaning of the French phrase “à l’insu de” (though more commonly “à notre insu, à mon insu”)

in – not; su – PP of savoir, to know => insu – not known

“à mon insu” – “without my knowing, unbeknowst to me”

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October 3rd, 2010 | Comments Off on French travel advice for Canada

In addition to all the usual stuff about weather, health, and security, there’s this line:
Eviter les remarques sur l’accent québécois.


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February 12th, 2010 | Comments Off on this is definitely a French thing

One of the hardest things for me to keep straight in French is the difference between ‘tu’ and ‘vous’. I mean, obviously I know the difference, but I haven’t internalized it… it often happens that I start a sentence with ‘vous’ and switch to ‘tu’ halfway through. I figure I get a semi-free pass as a foreigner, though.

Anyway, this is only relevant because I was in Munich recently, wandering around Marienplatz. It’s right by the city centre: tons of shopping to do, quite touristy overall. One of these survey people (I think) came up to me and asked, “Sprichst du Deutsch?” I muttered “Nein” and kept walking, but the first thing that popped into my head was “He just tutoie-d 1Fr. tutoyer, to use “tu” with someone me! He doesn’t even know me!”

So maybe the French are getting to me a little.

ETA: I was talking to the Franco-German student at work and he explained to me that people in Germany systematically tutoient people if they appear to be less than 18, which is not necessarily the case in France. Hum. I don’t think I look that young.

1 Fr. tutoyer, to use “tu” with someone
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February 3rd, 2010 | Comments Off on Maybe it’s a French thing

There’s this guy 1I can only assume he lives on my floor who keeps pacing up and down my hallway in the evenings. Talking. On a cellphone, I assume.

I am really really confused about why he needs to do this every night, and why he needs to do it in the hallway. It’s not like he’s bothering a roommate (we’re all in single rooms–or we’re supposed to be, anyway). I doubt he gets better reception in the hall.

1 I can only assume he lives on my floor
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October 2nd, 2009 | Comments Off on C’est différent ici.

So I was all excited about no-bake cookie recipes… then I realized they almost all call for peanut butter, which is basically an import food item here. Oops.

It’s the little things that get you. Why isn’t this milk refrigerated, you wonder: and then you see that it’s sterilized, and that the refrigerated kind has only been microfiltered. You see a pay phone and try to find a slot that accepts coins, but there isn’t one: pay phones only accept cards here. You consult your map and see that your destination is almost due north, but you can’t find it because you keep running into dead ends and you can’t orient yourself.

But at the same time, you don’t want to miss home too much, because you’re a continent and an ocean away from where you were born, and this is supposed to be an adventure. So you stroll and you wander, a little more alert than you’d be at home… but you live in a suburb, and there’s not much to see. You wonder if you’ll ever make it here. You wonder if you’ll ever feel like you belong in this city, just a little bit.

Posted in quotidian, ramblings