The rooster as symbol of France

Cocorico! says the rooster as symbol of France «Cocorico», the French onomatopoeia for the rooster crowing sound (cock-a-doodle-doo), is also used to express national pride but often with a touch of irony. Why? The cock or rooster has played a role in the symbolism and folklore of many nations for thousands of years. For many people, the rooster symbolizes bravery, boldness and virility as he defends the flock. The connection with the rooster as symbol of France in particular may quite simply stem from the similarity of the Latin words for cock (gallus) and inhabitant of Gaul (gallicus), now known as France. This play on words was known in Roman times, when many Gauls used roosters to symbolize their loyalty to Gaul. In the Middle Ages the cock was widely depicted in French churches and is recorded in 14th century German references to France. Chaucer’s foolish and boastful Chantecleer in the Canterbury Tales may have refered to the French national character. During…
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Avoir les portugaises ensablées

In making this Speak Easy puzzle I very much enjoyed learning the origin of "Avoir les portugaises ensablées" via the wonderful website Expressio. The expression means to be deaf, so indeed I was intrigued to know how deafness and Portugal are related. The origin goes back to the a slang term for ear (oreille) from the middle of the 20th century which was "portugaise". Portugaise simply refers to a type of oyster called portuguese which is shaped like an ear. From there to the idea of the oyster full of sand making you hard of hearing is just a short stretch. Next obvious question then is why do we call huitres creuses "portuguese" oysters? 1868 - the ship called The Morlaisien, was delivering oysters from Portugal to France (some stories say to northern France some say to the Arcachon bassin) when the ship was forced to hold over in the Gironde Estuary. The oysters spoiled and the captain decided to dump them overboard. Apparently not all of them had expired, some even thri…
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When the French are less French

When the French are less French This is the installment that our French hosts, cousins, counterparts, entourage have dreaded. When the French are less French. (We offer it, however, with tender feelings, hoping that will matter.) For years, FUSAC’s Hints for Newcomers-Hindsights for Oldtimers column has explored Anglo-French cultural and linguistic differences, the behavior and words that separate Parisians from Peorians, Niçois from New Yorkers, Cabourgais from Clevelanders. But while some of those differences are so profoundly embedded in millennia of national identity as to seem eternally immutable, others have begun melting away. Blame globalization. Blame the ubiquitousness of U.S. TV series. Blame students sent on exchange programs and executives sent on voyages d’affairs. Blame the “cool” appeal of Anglo jargon or the difficulty of fitting French verbosity into 140 characters. Whatever the reason, here is a (merely) four-category list of evidence that the gaping gulf is…
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More French entrepreneur families

French entrepreneur families are the names you see on the streets and on brands that are familiar they are Inventors and business people. Here's their story.

The Despature Family – Damart Thermolactyl

More than 400 million pieces of Thermolactyl clothing have been sold since its invention in 1953. The story began with the Despature brothers who in 1950 inherited a fabric factory in Roubaix. Textile manufacturing was in decline and the three brothers got to thinking about how to save their business. Inspiration came via their aunt who had rheumatism and who talked about the virtues of triboelectricity (an electric charge generated by friction). The brothers invented a fabric that when in contact with the skin creates electrostatic warmth. It also did not retain dampness. Their invention took off. The first Parisian shop was opened in 1957 and in 1958 the radio station Europe 1 chose Thermolactyl, the first high tech fabric made in France, as one of the most i…

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Remembering D-Day, 78 years later

D-DAY  -  JUNE 6, 1944 : "Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon the Great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you... I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!" --Dwight D. Eisenhower

Such were the words of General Eisenhower as the troops headed off for the greatest amphibian landing ever. FUSAC remembers their sacrifice today on the 78th anniversary.

Thank you veterans.

Once all the hullabaloo of the 78th anniversary dies down and the dignitaries leave visit the D-Day beaches with a base in Bayeux. It's a sort of pilgrimage and a moving experience even if you don't have a direct connection to the event. It is one of those places you have to visit at least once in your life.…

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American author in Paris Jake Lamar

This is the second part of our interview with American author in Paris Jake Lamar, his editor calls him the most French of the Americans. Here's how he does his craft.

For part one of American author in Paris see this link

Q: Do you have a writing routine, or any quirky routines while you write?

A: Music is first and foremost. I kept my bachelor’s apartment after I met my wife. I met her in 1996, at that time I had a small studio apartment in Montmartre, after we moved in together I kept that apartment as my office. I have a separate place where I work. We live in the 18th arrondissement together, but my office is about 5-7 minutes away. When I’m there, I’m in my sacred work space. I usually start work in the afternoon. I haven’t been able to have a regular writing pattern for years. Back in the 90s, I had a generous grant and back then, writers could live from publisher’s advances, but those days are over. During my fi…

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