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: Pastries and desserts

Why is it called … Part 1: 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 chocolats 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 dessert 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 pasrties, in English these baked delights are called Danish p…
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Hogtied in the Hexagon? part 1 of 3

Hogtied in the Hexagon? Part 1 Our choice of 15 Books to help you better understand France. First of all what is "hogtied"? To hogtie is an Americanism that goes back to about 1890 literally meaning to tie an animal, in particular a hog, with all four feet together. Figuratively the phrase mean to thwart or hamper. So below is the beginning of our list of 15 books that'll help you feel less bewildered in France. What is the Hexagon? The Hexagon is a nickname for France! (due to the mainland's nearly hexagonal shape) Dictionnaire amoureux de l’Histoire de France Max Gallo Max the historian works the alphabet from A to Z with entries ranging from Alésia to Jean Zay, touching along the way on Bernard de Clairvaux, Dreyfus, François Ier, Gambetta, Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz, Henri IV, les intellectuels, la laïcité, le maquis, Saint Louis and Verdun. When Monsieur Gallo says he loves French history he means it. Listen to him: « J’aime l’histoire de France, cette immense forêt. …
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English language press in France in an Exhibition

New Exhibition: Language Matters

Why this exhibition ?

Did you know that the French National Library holds almost 6,000 English-language periodicals (including your beloved FUSAC) that have been published in France since the Revolution? Such a large figure may come as a surprise, since these are but too only rarely dealt with in the history of the French press. The titles which are displayed in this exhibition come under the banner of a marginal category, that of the foreign, in this case, English language press. It is defined as periodicals or newspapers written in languages other than the national language(s) – whether de facto or de jure.

Exhibiting the wealth of the English language press in France Digitalisation operations that were launched in the 2000s in many libraries throughout the world have brought to light this global foreign-language press heritage. Its wealth is beyond imagination. Foreign-l…
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How do you translate… ?

by Shari Leslie Segall Newcomers, stay with us here: you might need this some day. Old-timers, has something like the following happened to you? You’ve moved to France and after several weeks, your nice bakery-lady realizes that you’re not a tourist but a bona fide resident of the quartier. She’s always found you genial, so one day she tries her luck, saying in French, “I want to put a sign in the window about all our offerings, to attract English-speaking clients. I would be thrilled to translate it myself, as I know a bit of English, but I’m not familiar with specific words related to gastronomy. Could I ask you to do me a biiiiiiiiiiiiiiig favor and translate it?  It’s not long-only three paragraphs.  That said, please feel free to say no.” Several months go by and you find a job. You get along well with everyone, from the floor sweeper all the way up to the CEO.  On your way out to lunch one day, the receptionist corrals you and says in French, “My son is looking for an …
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Top 40 children’s names in USA, UK and France

Top 40 children's names in USA, UK and France There is plenty of overlap in names for babies these days. Here's a chart of the top 40 babies names to help you choose a name that will work in both languages so that your child will never be branded by their name. Then again you may want to add some creativity and attachment a name to a place. We know a boy born to an Australian Mom in Paris who is named Sidney and a little girl born in Marseille to American parents is Sophie Marseille. Please add a comment if you know any children with lovely names.
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