With the morning comes the light . . . eventually.

Paris, Île-de-France, France
September 02, 2016

Rue Saint Dominique


It’s 3:00 in the morning.

I’ve slept for eight hours, That flushed, rummy, punch drunk feeling that comes with the sleep dépravation of international flight has passed. I am awake and alert, and apart from the fact that there are at least three more hours of darkness, and I have nothing to do but read or write this silly blog, things are going well. Right on says-shual.

I swing back the large white louvered windows and cool air rushes in to my airBNB flat. A group of young men and women are lazily drifting down the street, arms intertwined at the elbows, singing the Rightous Brothers’ “Loving Feeling” in French

I nibble at the half eaten Apricot Flan which miraculously rests undisturbed, right where I left it, near by laptop . . .on top of the still tucked-in sheets of my bed where I slept.

Eeeeew—Rob, Quelle gross!!

I laugh because right now, half a world away, at the moment she reads that last phrase, my French instructor Evelyne is quietly pulling her haïr out.

Let me explain.

“Gros” , you see, is a false cognate. A true cognate is a word which is fundamentally spelled the same and means the same in two langages. As Suzanne would say, “Same/same.”

For example……take…….well . . .take the phrase . . . “for example.” In English we say, “for example.” In French, we say “par example>”

If you want to fake French, you can go a long way by (1) talking through your nose, (2) summoning up French words you already know that end with an “e” (i.e. resume, blase, crème brûlée, touchée, cliche, cafe . . . you know . . . Chevrolet koo-pay”, and (3) spitting out cognates (i.e. hockey, taxi, dictionnaire, appartement, and my personal favorite…..chocolat.

Try it! In English we say, “châlk-let” In French we say, “show-ko-law”, In English we say, “den-tist”. In French, we say, “dawn-teest” In English, we say “Aaaa”-ten-shun”; in French we say, “ahh–tahn-zee-own”

Ah, but therein lies the rub, my dear Horatio.

Some words you think might be cogates, are not cognates. They may look the same, but they don’t mean the same. They are false cognates or, as the French so nicely put it, “faux amis.” False friends.

The french word “bras” is the not the plural of a lady’s garment. It’s your bicep. The word “déception” in English means “deceived”. In French it means “disallusioned” And the word “gros” in French does not mean “yuck”; it means “fat.” And in French, “attention” does not mean “stay focused” it means, “watch out.”

Hmmm. 4:15. Still dark in Paris.

No métaphore there.

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