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 pastri…
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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. “The…
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Why do you call it a canicule?

Word etymologies are great fun. Here's a few pertinent ones.

Canicule

Usually this French word is translated to English as heatwave, but a more picturesque and almost literal translation would be "the dog days of summer". Basically it means that it is very hot, hotter than it usually is. But why this reference both in the French "cani" and English to dogs? What do dogs have to do with heat? It goes back to astronomy. The Dog Star, or Sirius, rises and sets with the sun during the summer. Thus the most sultry time of the year became associated with the Dog Star, called canicula in Latin. The word canicule dates from about 1500, but the Romans and Greeks had already been refering to the dog days and associating them with the star Sirius.

Sirius rises late in the dark, liquid sky; On summer nights, star of stars, Orion's Dog they call it, brightest Of all, but an evil portent, bringing heat And fevers to suffering humanity.

Homer's Illiad Once …
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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 that…

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Learn French! Speak Easy puzzle: Grin and bear it!

Speak Easy puzzle: Grin and bear it! Learn French! Enjoy this Speak Easy puzzle of expressions in English with the words BEAR in them. The word Bear refers not to just the animal, it is also a verb meaning to carry a weight (to bear, past tense bore). Then there is the homonym bare an adjective or verb for being naked. See if you can match the English expressions up with their French equivalent. It's a fun way to learn some new idiomatic expressions to enrich your vocabulary. This Speak Easy puzzle comes from volume 1 of a series of three books of 48 puzzles available on : https://store.fusac.fr or at the FUSAC Book Room (a new place you just have to discover!) 42, rue du Chemin Vert, Boulogne, M° Porte de Saint Cloud Hear the story of how John and Lisa encountered a grizzly bear in Yellowstone Park. Bonus Vocabulary Grizzly is a large North American species of bear also known as a silvertip bear. French = Grizzli Grisly means disgusting and bloody, absolutely repulsi…
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Speak Easy Puzzle of Idiomatic expressions: To hit your Stride

Here's a Speak Easy Puzzle with terms that refer to mobility: creep, slither, romp... have fun and hope you make "great strides" in your language skills with some new Idiomatic expressions. Idiomatic expressions are the colorful part of language and it is only in learning a few that you'll start to sound and feel like you speak well.

 100+ Speak Easy Puzzles have been compiled into a series of books:

Order the Books - Commander les livres

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Acronymal France

"Acronymal France" or French Acronyms are an invasive species! But an integral part of the French language.

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-F and her mate Jean-François are PACSé. He works for a GAFA…

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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: Here's Q to Z   A to H,  Here's the link   I to P, Here's the link is for queen: Or, if you will, king, princess, prince, duchess, duke, you-get-the-picture. Make no mistake about it: France, as of this writing, is only 170 years removed from royal rule (no, the monarchy did n…
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