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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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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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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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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ABCs of life in France – Q to Z

The ABCs of life in France

In my 33rd year in Paris, here is an ABCs of life in France (the French call that an abécédaire, from the Latin abecedarium, which gave us the English rarely-used-outside-of-academia “abecedary,” which is sometimes employed to denote not only the document containing the alphabetic list but also the teacher or learner of the contents of the document, who can likewise be referred to as an “abecedarian”) of random fascinating facts and figures about France and Paris that for the most part are inhaled, absorbed, stumbled upon during decades of presence as opposed to learned in lectures, browsed in books, witnessed on websites. In other words, to know this stuff, ya gotta be here: ABCs of life in France Part 1 Letters A to H - Here's the link ABCs of life in France Part 2 Letters I to P - Here's the link ABCs of life in France Part 3 Letters Q to Z - Here's the link is for Queen: Or, if you will, king, prin…
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ABCs of life in France – I to P

The ABCs of life in France In my 33rd year in Paris, here is an ABCs of life in France (the French call that an abécédaire, from the Latin abecedarium, which gave us the English rarely-used-outside-of-academia “abecedary,” which is sometimes employed to denote not only the document containing the alphabetic list but also the teacher or learner of the contents of the document, who can likewise be referred to as an “abecedarian”) of random fascinating facts and figures about France and Paris that for the most part are inhaled, absorbed, stumbled upon during decades of presence as opposed to learned in lectures, browsed in books, witnessed on websites. In other words, to know this stuff, ya gotta be here: ABCs of life in France Part 1 Letters A to H - Here's the link ABCs of life in France Part 2 Letters I to P - Here's the link ABCs of life in France Part 3 Letters Q to Z - Here's the link is two-for-the-price-of-one  Intellectuals/Ideas: They really do still ex…
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Say Fromage, A Speak Easy

Say Fromage !

As long as 7,000 years ago, cheese was being made in northern Europe — albeit in a simple and functional form, a new study reports. And cheese has been part of the language for as long. There are so many French expressions involving fromage, pain and vin that we decided to do a Speak Easy on the subject. We hope you will enjoy it and come back saying cheese and hungry for more (or maybe even buy the book!).

But why do we "Say cheese" when taking photos? It goes back to Texas in the 1940s as a sure way to get someone to smile for a photo. Read more here! Plus here's our article on French cheese where you'll learn how to choose, cut and serve, plus the etymologies of fromage and cheesemonger.

For this Speak Easy puzzle Match the French phrase or expression with the English.

Order the Book - Commander le livre

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