sauve qui peut


Croatian Door (c) Kristin Espinasse
No canard photos on file for you today. (I locked myself out of my "photos on file"... when my computer crashed last March.) I hope this "Croatian Door" will satisfy your appetite for a slice of Mediterranean life. Don't miss a dozen more slices in this Saturday's Cinema Verite photo gallery!

canard (kah-narh) noun, masculine

    : duck

faire un canard = to hit a false note
faire le canard = to keep quiet
mon petit canard = (term of endearment) my pet
le canard laqué = Peking duck
le canard boiteux = lame duck
le canard froid/vilain = (pejorative for) newspaper

Le Canard enchaîné (French: The Chained Duck or The Chained Paper) is a satirical newspaper published weekly in France. Founded in 1915, it features investigative journalism and leaks from sources inside the French government, the French political world and the French business world, as well as a large number of jokes and humorous cartoons. It is one of the most respected and oldest French newspapers, despite its often humoristic tone. You can subscribe to this journal. --Wikipedia

...know of any other "canard" terms or expressions? Please share them with us in the comments section.

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce these French words: Download PM3 file
Au lieu de discuter, l'employée du restaurant aurait du faire le canard!

The Ultimate French Verb Review and Practice : Master the essential building blocks of French-language fluency

A Day in a French Life...
by Kristin Espinasse

On our way to Croatia we took the exit near Antibes, so that our kids might have a break from the long car ride, in time to cool down at a popular water park. As we approached the ticket line, we were met by an unusual scalper: a woman, in a bikini, carrying a toddler on her hip. A few more children were in tow of the bikinied scalper, who explained that her friend hadn't shown up and now she was stuck with an extra ticket. We could have her ticket, she explained, for a sizable discount.

Even though we were dealing with a mom -- I was still suspicious. Turns out the ticket was legitimate and, on seeing the price menu to get into the water park, I realized the favor she had done us and immediately felt ashamed for having jumped to conclusions, yet again.

Bon,* we were supposed to be in vacation mode--and not guilt mode--and so I eventually turned my attention to Max and Jackie, who, soon enough, were barreling down the slippery water-park slides, building up an appetite.

At noon, Jean-Marc and I left our chaises-longues* and headed for the snack bar to get some sandwiches. Once again I was surprised to see the price menu. I'm afraid I must be like those people who are still stuck in the last century, still expecting a Coke to cost under a Euro and a sandwich, under 5. En tout cas,* it is interesting how the water-amusement park prices are similar to airport prices: once they trap you "inside" the park, where you are stuck with your stomach, you have no other option but to pay the price!

While I kept my complaints to myself, the man in line next to me was becoming increasingly vocal about his récriminations*; although price wasn't the issue for him: time was.

"Ça fait une demi-heure depuis que j'ai commandé des frîtes!* What's so difficult about making fries?" he wanted to know. "You dump some frozen potatoes into hot oil. How hard is that?"

Unlike the employees back home, in the States, the woman behind the counter argued back. By now, my husband was commiserating with the disgruntled, hungry man. On hearing the employee respond defensively, Jean-Marc, feeling the customer was in the right, remarked "the least she could do is 'faire le canard'."

"Oui," the disgruntled man agreed, "Elle pouvait faire le canard!"*

Meantime, my mind began drawing up colorful images of what it might mean to faire le canard or "do the duck". I pictured so many quacking canards, in chorus, but this didn't seem to be the right translation, for why would Jean-Marc suggest that the manager do something she was already doing (quacking)?

Jean-Marc explained that "faire le canard" meant the opposite: it means to "se taire". The woman, instead of arguing back, ought to have "shut her beak".

It was clear the manager was no duck. With two commiserating Frenchmen on either side of me and one self-righteous employee (who had just stomped off to see about those fries), the atmosphere was tense. I turned to "Monsieur Frîte":

"Maybe the employees are being trained?" I said, offering an explanation for the 30-minute wait.

"Trained in America!" he remarked, sourly.

Did I hear him correctly? Wasn't that an insult? I thought about getting my own feathers ruffled. It seemed odd that Mr Fry would say that to me, l'américaine (surely he had heard my strong accent?), especially after my husband had stood up for him

Besides, he was wrong about American culinary training: if those short-order cooks had been prepped in America, wouldn't Mr. Fussy Fry be seated, eating his frîtes by now?! I also had a mind to share with him a famous American service adage: The customer is always right. All the more evidence that the équipe* was not trained in America!

In the end, I decided not to get ruffled feathers--for, in the years that I have lived in France, I have never (or rarely) been intentionally dissed by a Frenchman. I told myself that his comment was not to be taken personally, that Mr French Fry was peeved, not prejudiced. In any case, I didn't want to jump to any more conclusions. Therefore, instead of trying to reason any further, with French Fry, I opted to take my husband's advice and "faire le canard." (Something I might have done, too, back at the ticket line, when the mama-scalper had offered us the discounted ticket.) When in doubt, do the duck!

Comments, corrections--and stories of your own--always enjoyed and appreciate. Thanks for responding in the comments box.

~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~
bon =
right (conviction)
la chaise-longue =
deck chair
en tout cas =
in any case
la récrimination =
gripe, grumbling
Ça fait une demi-heure depuis que j'ai commandé des frîtes!
It's been a half-hour since I ordered fries!
elle pouvait faire le canard = she might shut her beak!
l'équipe (f) =
(lunch) crew

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Film: The Chorus
When he takes a job teaching music at a school for troubled boys, Clément Mathieu is unprepared for its harsh discipline and depressing atmosphere. But with passion and unconventional teaching methods, he's able to spark his students' interest in music and bring them a newfound joy! It also puts him at odds with the school's overbearing headmaster, however, locking Mathieu in a battle between politics and the determination to change his pupils' lives!

Geraniums (c) Kristin Espinasse
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