Friday, February 29, 2008
Cousin Mike's remise (shed) in Layton. Mike & Aunt Reta made us feel at home when we visited Utah.
prévenant(e) [pray-vuhnan(t)] adjective
Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the French words prévenant/prévenante:
Download prevenant.mp3. Download prevenant.wav
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I have often wondered about the word "thoughtful" and what its equivalent is in French. So many times have I thought about how to thank a considerate Francophone with only this faux-amis* of a phrase up my sleeve :
"Vous êtes tellement pensif!"*
No. Pensive wouldn't be the right translation. A pensive person sits around thinking. A thoughtful person stands up and does something for someone else. There's action, and not subtraction--as in the calculating mind of one who thinks too much.
Thoughtful people tend to throw out the calculator. They aren't keeping track of anything, though they may leave their tracks behind, tracks they'd just as soon have covered up so as not to be found out for their quiet kindness or bienveillance.*
My brother-in-law's tracks are long, due to the size of his feet: feet that made a few dozen aller-retours* last week as they carried their weary worker to-and-fro from our ever-cluttered and always-encumbered patio... to a great wall along a field of vines. Beyond that wall, in a line and neatly stacked, lay the renovation bric-a-brac... the re-arranging of which almost broke Jacques' back.
My brother-in-law pulled into our driveway after picking us up from the train station. Still dizzy from our 24-hour voyage home, we were now dazzled by our de-cluttered driveway. When I asked about the clean-up, that veritable tornado of tidiness that had somehow swept through the front yard in our two-week absence, my brother-in-law brushed it off, as he had the messy patio--beyond which the once weed-whipped flower beds now glistened. I stopped to admire the freshly-turned soil shimmering beneath the late winter sun.
"I can't take credit for that," said Jacques. Who, then, to shower with thanks? A telephone call to Aunt Marie-Françoise produced the same pass-the-praise results. "Oh, we just stopped by to have a bite with Jacques while he was house-sitting... and snapped up a few weeds on our way out."
My husband reminded his family of their manners. "It isn't polite to go cleaning up another's place without their permission," Jean-Marc chuckled and so gave thanks in his own way. As for me, my mind as cluttered as the luggage that Jacques helped us carry back, I just found out in my dictionary that my in-laws' gesture was more than polite. It was "prévenant".* I suppose I won't have to wonder any longer about how to say "thoughtful" in French. I now know the answer... and knowing, I reckon, doesn't count as thinking. There we go again.
* FIN / END *
Here are some photos from the French American Chamber of Commerce event taken by Ronald Holden. Thanks also to Anne and to Betty and to others at the FACC for their warm welcome and for all the work they did! http://picasaweb.google.com/inyourglass/Espinasse
More photos on the way.... Portland, San Francisco, LA, Phoenix, and Houston... coming up!
un faux-ami (m) = a "false friend" or false cognate (words that look alike but have different meanings; Vous êtes tellement pensif(ve)! = You are so pensive!; bienveillant (adj) = kind, benevolent; un aller-retour (m) = round trip; prévenant = it was thoughtful
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White Mane. In the south of France, in a near-desert region called La Camargue, lives White Mane, a magnificent stallion and the leader of a herd of wild horses too proud to let themselves be broken in by humans.
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