A Bon Speak Easy is a good Speak Easy

A Bon Speak Easy Why make a bon Speak Easy? One of the most used words in French must be bon. It is used is wish everyone a good day, week, weekend, trip, courage, luck and more. It also has a negative meaning at times. This puzzle includes as many bon phrases as we could find while not repeating the ones we all know from the get go such as bonjour, bon anniversaire, bonbon. I once heard a server in a restaurant wish someone a bon début de fin de soirée. And just yesterday was reminded of another good "bon" phrase when an exasperated mother said "bon sang!" to her kids. Post your translation of bon sang in the comments below this article. The best translation will win a copy of Volume 3 (from which this puzzle is extracted) of the Speak Easy Puzzles book (contest ends 31/12/2021). Bon Speak Easy! This puzzle is included in the new Speak Easy book. Volume 3 is now available with fifty new puzzles to challenge your French and English. Copies may be purchased at the FUSAC …
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Why is it called? Part 2: French place names

Why is it called… Part 2: French place names or toponyms Have you ever asked yourself why something is called by a particular name? Place names are also called toponyms. We've learned Paris was named for the Celtic tribe the Parisii who lived in the area (why the Parisii were called that is still up for discussion), that the Seine was named for the nymph Séquana. Here are some other topoynms from the Paris area. Feel free to add your town in the comments. Versailles: The most likely origin of the name Versailles, first mentioned in 1038 as land belonging to a person named Hughes, comes from the Latin word versare which means to turn over (verser, reverser in French) and probably referred to Hughes’s agricultural efforts of clearing and preparing his land for planting. “Un versailles” or “versail” in old French refers to cleared land. Stains: The name of the town of Stains, a town north of Paris, rings strangely in anglophone ears because we hear a noun that means "a mar…
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Gigantic numbers – just try to count that high!

1000 billion or one trillion? It's the same thing, but it depends who you ask. In any case they are gigantic numbers. While reading an article recently in the French press where the budgets are flying through the roof again I saw the figure 1000 milliard and wondered why the journalist used that method for writing the figure, why not use trillion. In any case they are gigantic numbers. Well come to find out the French, the British (who finally agree on something with the French) and most of the rest of the world have different words than the U.S. (nothing new here, especially when it comes to measurement) for expressing these giant numbers. To try to understand the terms here is a list of them. As you will note the system for naming numbers used in the U.S. is not as logical as that used in other countries (like Great Britain, France, and Germany). In these countries, a billion - bi meaning two and -llion referring to million - logically has twice as many zeros as a million, …
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French Acronyms

French Acronyms are an invasive species! But an integral part of the French language.

Can you decipher this text full of usual French Acronyms?

Marie-France, a French lady, citizen of the RF, lives in IdF. She commutes daily via the RER, STIF and the RATP to the center of Paris where she runs a PME SARL. She learned her business acumen at INSEAD. She deals daily with TVA, PVs, CFE, CVAE, the CNIL, the RGPD, but luckily she doesn’t miss deadlines and thus does not receive many LRAR.

When she goes on vacation to PACA, her favorite region, she takes the SNCF, a TGV or TER. She dreams of visiting the TAAF, as well as the DROM-COM to walk the famous GR on Ile de la Réunion. To get there she’ll fly from one of the ADP, probably CDG. She plays the FDJ lottery and the PMU once in a while hoping to win big to finance her trip. She also has a PEL and a PEA to save money. She shops at the FNAC or the BHV where she pays with her CB.

M…

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Valentine’s Day – When Cupid’s bow is fired…

Valentine's Day - When Cupid’s bow is fired… As far back as the early fourth century B.C., the Romans had celebrated an annual rite of passage for young men in honor of the god Lupercus. The names of willing young women were placed in a box and drawn at random by the young men. From this lottery each man was matched with a woman companion to share in mutual entertainment and pleasure (often sexual). In a year’s time a new lottery was drawn with new partners.  Needless to say the early Catholic Church fathers were determined to put an end to this practice. They decided to find a « lover’s » saint who could usurp the popularity of Lupercus. They found Valentine. In Rome in A.D. 270, Valentine, Bishop of Interamna, had performed the sacrament of matrimony for lovers in secret. Valentine was violating a law issued by the mad emperor Claudius II who believed that married men made poor soldiers because they were loath to leave their families for battle. Since the Empire needed s…
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Why is it called? Part 1: French Pastries and desserts

Why is it called … Part 1: French PASTRIES and DESSERTS Have you ever asked yourself why something is called by a particular name? Why are croissants, pain aux raisins and pains au chocolat called viennoiseries for example? How do things get named? Here is a short list of French pastries and desserts and how they got their names. We invite readers to add their own favorite pastries and desserts to the comments. Viennoiserie A pastry was created in Vienna in celebration of the end of the Turkish siege of 1683 in the shape of the Turkish crescent (croissant). An Austrian army officer named August Zang and his associate Ernest Schwarzer, a nobleman from Vienna opened the Boulangerie Viennoise at 92 rue de Richelieu in Paris in 1838. They were the first to make the pastries which were to become known as viennoiserie. Ironically even though the French name viennoiserie makes a reference to Vienna which is the origin of the pastries, in English these baked delights are called D…
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BEWARE THOSE FAUX AMIS 

BEWARE THOSE FAUX AMIS (WORDS THAT LOOK ALIKE IN TWO LANGUAGES BUT HAVE DIFFERENT MEANINGS, SOMETIMES DANGEROUSLY SO) AND INACCURATE TRANSLATIONS! You’re the Chief Information Officer of the French branch of a sprawling multinational, and you’ve been told to upgrade the entire system. Everything. The Works. There are hundreds of thousands of euros to be spent on software, hardware, related staff training and, in conjunction with the Marketing Department, a glossy communication campaign to let the universe know how ultra-wired you are. With almost puerile excitement you grab the phone, call the most renowned supplier in the world and are transferred to an eager young French sales-rep delighted at the opportunity to practice his English. You explain what you’re after. The young man says he’s thrilled to help but his own system is out today. Could you call back tomorrow, he asks, when he’ll hopefully have access to the documents he needs for his pitch. You call the next day. “T…
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The novlangue Covid Vocabulary list

We have never had so much new vocabulary come into play in a month. Many of the words can be used in both French and English, but there are a few cases where it is better not to mix them up. Here's a selection of what we have noted. Do you speak the covid? Do you know the French nuances? Here's a novlangue Covid Vocabulary list.

Rona, Coco or Kid Corona – nicknames for the coronavirus. It is important to name things when trying to deal with it. Naming things is a way to domesticate and control a situation. Americans use Quarn as a nickname for pour quarantine and the French Confifi for confinement.

La Covid-19 - Le Corona Virus - Watch out for the difference in genders! The Academie française - guardians of the language have decided that La Covid-19 is feminin because it is an acronym which stems from "maladie" a noun which is feminin. Le corona virus is "masculin" because the noun virus is masculin. Read more directly from the horse's …

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CONTEMPLATIONS ON CORONAVIRUS CONFINEMENT, CONUNDRUMS, CONSEQUENCES (in France)

This would have been my annual Paris Marathon article. Marathon postponed (we hope--i.e., as opposed totally ash-canned for 2020). My local chocolate-shop is closed. We are allowed to shop for only basic necessities (achats [purchases] de première nécessité). Isn’t chocolate a basic necessity? We are authorized to go out and run, albeit for only an hour per day. If we had an older, fatter president who had an older, fatter prime minister who had an older, fatter health minister, that number would be zero hours per day. This generation of leaders knows that depriving exercise addicts of their workouts in addition to their general mobility would put them over the edge. We (the media, scholars, doomsdayers, fortunetellers, your grandmother) have for years been predicting that Planet Earth will be brought to its knees by terrorism, natural disaster, trade war, real war. It is being brought to its knees by a microscopic organism that has be…
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