In this blogposting...
* The Things People Say
* A Goodbye Kiss
* Advice from Sid
Every one a winner...
When you’re trying to learn a foreign language - like I’ve been trying to learn French over the last few years - the real difficulty is taking on board the everyday phrases that people us ‘in the street’ rather than the official, textbook version of the language.
Conjugations, declensions and grammar are tricky enough but using day-to-day street talk is what impresses native speakers the most - and presents the biggest problems. Phrases like all’s well that ends well, no pain no gain, cheap at twice the price, more haste less speed, it’ll be alright on the night - they’re very idiomatic and pithy, and not always easy to translate.
Here are some I’ve tried to learn over the years. There are more on Serge’s blog.
Comme on fait son lit on se couche.
You lie on the bed you make.
Il n'y a que les imbéciles qui ne change pas d'avis.
Only a fool never changes his mind.
On ne fait pas d'omelettes sans casser des oeufs.
You can’t make omelettes without breaking eggs.
Qui couche avec des chiens se lève avec des puces.
Who sleeps with dogs wakes up with fleas.
Is there an Englsh equivalent of that one?
Pluie du matin n'arrête pas le pèlerin.
Morning rain doesn’t stop a pilgrim.
Après la pluie le beau temps.
There are better days ahead - ‘after the rain comes good weather’.
Bien mal acquis ne profite jamais.
Ill got, ill spent - ‘what you acquire wrongly will not benefit you’
Heureux au jeu, malheureux en amour.
Lucky at cards, unlucky in love.
Deux avis valent mieux qu'un
Two heads are better than one - ‘two points of view have more value than one’.
En amour comme à la guerre, tous les coups sont permis.
All’s fair in love and war - ‘in love as in war; all moves are allowed’.
Il ne faut pas mettre la charrue avant les bœufs
Don't put the cart before the horse - in French, the cart before the ox.
Il ne faut pas vendre la peau de l'ours avant de l'avoir tué
Don't count your chickens before they're hatched - ‘don’t sell the bear’s skin before you’ve killed the bear.’
And my favourite - if only because of the way it rolls off the tongue so mellifluously in French...
Advienne que pourra.
Come what may.
Beautiful, just beautiful. French really does have a truly unique sound system, doesn’t it?
A GOODBYE KISS
I’m writing this blog during one of my periodic visits to see my friend Brian in London. At the very start of my journey down here yesterday, something quite remarkable happened...
Platform 4 at Newcastle Central was quite crowded; it’s Easter weekend and lots of people were travelling.
As I sat waiting impatiently for the train to arrive, my eyes fixed on a middle-aged couple standing close by. They were, I should think, in their late 40s. The man was tall, goodlooking, slightly balding. The woman was ‘petite’, pretty and slim without being thin.
And they were involved in a quite astonishingly loving ‘goodbye kiss’. Their arms wrapped round each other, they were kissing full-on mouth to mouth. They gazed into each other’s eyes, their faces almost locked together. They kissed and kissed and kissed.
I timed it. Four minutes. That’s quite a long time for a mutual, passionate embrace on a station platform on a very cold March Saturday morning. They obviously meant every second of it - and enjoyed it immensely.
It wasn’t one of those sad, ‘farewell my love’ kisses, either. They smiled as they hugged. It seemed to me that their parting may only be brief and that they were using it as an excuse to make each other feel passionate pleasure - right there amongst all those people waiting for the train.
It was seriously erotic. One of those sexy embraces that outrages maiden aunts (and bachelor uncles) from Corbridge or Barnard Castle.
And it was extraordinarily lovely to watch. It seemed to me that, the moment they parted, they would immediately start looking forward to meeting again.
The woman sat in the same carriage as me and I genuinely found it very difficult to resist the temptation to tell her much I’d enjoyed watching that Goodbye Kiss, and how - er....uplifting - I’d found it.
Two mature, grown-up people - shamelessly in love. Wonderful.
It reminded me of this advice I received from Sid...
Life is short - break the rules
And, never regret a thing
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