Posts Tagged: french

How To Order A Croissant

Ordering a croissant is a perilous enterprise. It forces lovers of French pastries between the Scylla of pretension and the frying pan of provincialism. Actually that’s understating the case: The perils are not two, but manifold.

If you attempt the proper French pronunciation, krwa-san, and succeed, you’ll seem snobby. If you trip over the guttural R, as so many non-native speakers do, you’ll seem pseudointellectual.

If you go for the namby-pamby middle ground, kwa-san, replacing the guttural R with a W, you’ll sound terrible… and namby-pamby.

You could avoid these dangers by pronouncing the word in a straightforward American accident: kruh-sant. But then you’ll quite possibly become the [...]


Some Random Thoughts on French Feminist Group Names

Why do French feminist groups have such awesome names? (As noted in this story on the au revoir to the term 'mademoiselle.') For instance, is "Les Chiennes de Garde" a pun, in French? (I don't have any reason to think so particularly; it just LOOKS like it would be some sort of super-cute complicated French double-pun.) Also "Paroles de Femmes," which is an "aid group" not an activist group;. Can I translate that in my mind as Words With Lady Friends? That's much more fun. Oh France.


To Tlön: Let's Invade Reality

On November 24, 1948, Vernon Sullivan disappeared. Two years earlier he had caused a scandal in Paris when Editions du Scorpion published his first novel, I Spit on Your Graves. Sullivan was black, but passed as white. He was tired of reading about "good blacks" in American novels, "the type that whites affectionately pat on the back" and he wanted to write something that portrayed a harder world, the one he knew from life. His book was brutal, sexually explicit, and racially taboo. Its protagonist is Lee Anderson, a blond, blue-eyed black man who arrives in the Midwestern town of Buckton intent on avenging the lynching of his baby brother. [...]


Woman Has Close Encounter With Wild Wolves

"By this time I am standing still. The great dog is far enough away yet for comfort, but I am getting ready to assess the situation. Nine thirty on a Saturday morning and there is no one else in sight. In mid-bound, the dog’s head swings up and his eyes lock onto me. Halting on a dime, he stares at me, and I at him. Very close. If he were a car, I could read his license plate. After an interminable five seconds, he turns and trots along at ninety degrees. Then I see the others: first two, then three more. All huge, white-grey, stunning. I finally map their features [...]