Learn French! Bear! Espèces d’ours!

Bear! Espèces d'ours! After being charged by an adult male grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park and shouting "Bear!" John and Lisa (read the Yellowstone press release here and listen to John tell the story here) were amused to return to Paris to find an exhibition entitled The World of Bears or  Espèces d'ours! at the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle. So they trotted right over to see what the museum had to say about bears. It turns out there are 8 species of bears in the world. The grizzly bear John and Lisa encountered, called Ursus arctos horribilis in scientific nomenclature, is a subspecies of the brown bear. It is also less commonly known as the silvertip bear. Scientists generally do not use the name grizzly bear but call it the North American brown bear to distinguish it from the European or Asian brown bear. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark called it "grisley". They were notoriously bad spellers and perhaps meant grizzly in reference to lighter tips …
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Sh… A Speak Easy puzzle of expressions

"Sh!" in English, but "chut!" in French. Expressions certainly do not simply translate from one language to another, they are also transformed. Here's a Speak Easy collection of "sh" words in English (many of the these English words are of Yiddish origin and they are fun to say outloud due to their rather odd combination of sounds), up to you to find the French equivalents in the list. In French the Sh and sch sound are not very much used. The English section of my Harrap's has 8 pages of words beginning with these letters whereas the corresponding French section has just 25 entries. Those 25 French words are frequently derived from English: schéma, schématique, schisme, schiste, schizophrène, schlinguer, schnaps, schnock, schuss, shaker, shakespearien, shampooing, shampoiner, shampouineur, shérif, shetland, shiatsu, shinto, shit, shoot, shooter, shopping, short, show and show-business. Enjoy the this puzzle of expressions and prick up your ears to the colorful expressions o…
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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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Funny poems about learning English

Learning a language is fun and funny, but difficulties lurk when not done with honey. English is notoriously difficult because it is very irregular in pronunciation and spelling. Thousand years of external influences amongst which the imposition of French in the middle ages and a huge importation of foreign words resulting from exploration and colonialism turned English into a mishmash. Enjoy these poems about learning English that we have gathered from various online sources. The first of these poems about learning English dates from at least 1896! We'll begin with box, and the plural is boxes; But the plural of ox should be oxen, not oxes. Then one fowl is goose, but two are called geese, Yet the plural of moose should never be meese. You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice, Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice. If the plural of man is always called men, Why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen? The cow in the plural may be cows o…
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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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Spring Speak Easy

I have a "spring in my step" and want to do a Speak Easy!

Speak Easy puzzles are matching games of French and English idiomatic expressions. It's a great way to learn French or English and put some spring in your language skills. Spring doesn't refer to just a season, it is also a noun, adjective and a verb. There are all kinds of ways to use this word.

Answers - Réponses: 1l; 2o; 3b; 4e; 5u; 6n; 7j; 8p; 9r; 10q; 11m; 12d; 13h; 14s; 15f; 16i; 17t; 18g; 19k; 20c; 21a This Speak Easy Puzzle is available in a collection of 68 puzzles, order on Boutique FUSAC 
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Horse puzzles – horse play

Here are 2 horse puzzles, games based on Horses that we put together for the kids next door to whom we were "teaching" English over the garden wall during confinement. I stood up on a ladder to see over the top and they were in their front court. It was pretty funny to see. They enjoyed having some authentic conversation although they had trouble with my "odd" US accent as opposed to the British one they hear in school. It was a welcome distraction for us all. It was tricky to select a "program" as there are 3 girls ages 10 to 17 to entertain and challenge. They have such different levels of English amongst themselves and of course there is the age difference between them and me in terms of knowledge and pop culture. But I figured out that they like to ride horses. So one lesson was centered on horses and their "homework", sent by paper airplane over the wall, was these two puzzles and this nicely done worksheet which includes word searches and lots of horse vocabulary tha…

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