A photo for Diane Scott. This dog (an épagneul?), lives in St. Tropez and gets to call those lovely blue shutters and lace curtains home. Now if someone would just let the loiterer inside for a nice treat!

Note: today's extra edition is a word only. The regular edition (with sound file, vocab section) returns tomorrow!

abrégement (ah-brezh-mahn)
    : abbreviation

synonymes : une apocope, un raccourcissement (shortening), une abréviation

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

You've heard about writer's block (when you can't think of the first word to put down on paper), then reader's block (when you don't feel like picking up a book), and now... how about "in-box block"? I've got it bad.

More about this topic another time. Meantime, while catching up on email, I reread one of Carol's (see her photo, below) poetic and educational responses, this time to the apocope edition. I thought you, too, would enjoy reading it -- for the rich list of vocab words and for the reminder as to what, exactly, apocopes are. Enjoy!

P.S.: Carol is a big fan of Smokey "R" Dokey and has addressed the following letter to his-truly.
P.P.S.: Would anyone like to volunteer to translate the following text? Please share your interpretation here in the comment's box. Merci beaucoup for your helpful participation!

"Petit apport d'apocopes pour copains" (ça c'est une allitération)":

En période d'exam (examen)

On ouvre le dico (dictionnaire)

Sur ces kilos d' mots, (kilogrammes)

C'est la récré, on va au ciné, (récréation, cinématographe)

L'affaire est dans l'sac

On aura no't bac, on ira en fac (baccalauréat, faculté)

Prenons l'auto, filons au resto, j'offre l'apéro  (automobile, restaurant, apéritif)

On f'ra des photos, (photographies)

Du prof de philo. (professeur, philosophie)

Pour toi Smokey:

Toi, joli chien sympa, sensas, extra,  (sympathique, sensationnel, extraordinaire)

Je suis fan de toi (fanatique).

                   Smokey's Pooch-Perfect Pillow photo by Jean-Marc

Tu as remarqué Smokey, pour créer une apocope, on enlève les syllabes finales. Or, quand les proprios (propriétaires) de chiens vous parlent, ils utilisent le langage "enfantin" ou "enfanchien" dans ce cas. Et là, pour faire simple, ils doublent les syllabes, pour être sûrs que vous compreniez bien. Deux fois la même syllabe dis, comme si vous pouviez pas piger du premier coup! Ils vous prennent pour des débiles! Exemple:

Viens mon chienchien, (chien)

fini le dodo, (dormir)

donne la papatte à mèmère, (patte, mère)

où il a mis son nonoss le toutou? (os) (toutou/chienchien, même topo)

Il a encore fait le foufou...."  (fou ..... fou? qui est fou?:-)

...etc... On en passe, et des pires.

Que leur répondre? Ils ne sont pas méchants, plutôt bienveillants...

......Alors vous utilisez le même langage pour ne pas les vexer, et vous répondez :"wouaf, wouaf"!  Deux fois, pour qu'ils comprennent bien.....

 Bisous Bisous,

Carol Donnay, Belgium

  DSC03650   DSC03656   DSC03661

Please join me in thanking Carol for her helpful "apocope" examples. Click here to leave her a message, which she'll happily read from her chez-soi in Belgium!

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Suzanne, Monroe Township, NJ

Merci beaucoup, Carol. Smokey est un chien trѐs fantastique, n'est ce pas? Et, Braise est un chienne trѐs sympathique. My Westie, Bijou and Shih-Tzu, Boomerang often sleep as Smokey and Braise are in the photo above. I am traveling to Belgium for the first time this July with 6 days in Brugges and 2 in Bruxelles. Maybe I will find some doorways and dogs to photograph and share.

Kristin Espinasse

Suzanne, wed love to see your doorways-n-dogs photos! Have fun.

Alison, Bristol, England

The dog in the photo is a Brittany, as they are known in England or un épagneul breton as they are known in France. I have a 9 year old Brittany who is the same colour as the one in the photo.

Leslie in Massachusetts

Merci, Carol, votre poème est très drôle!
Also, I wanted to second the recommendation of Excericises in French Phonics which I ordered after I saw it on FWAD. I have been studying and speaking (very imperfect) French for a long time and about a year ago, I read through and studied this concise little treatment of the subject and had many aha! moments. It was really helpful.

cynthia at the daily basics

I think I have to do the Rosetta Stone French course, I am semi-fluent in Spanish and can't seem to pronounce one word without sounding as though I am from Spain. However, I am loving learning my one word a day!

Diane Scott

Merci, dear Kristin, for the "fido" photo! A second smile for a Thursday. The sun is finally beginning to peek through the clouds.




Carol: loved the apocopes. word play is often the final frontier in language understanding.

Kristin: the dog is not waiting to be let in through the blue door. he is waiting for his girlfriend to join him for a walk to the beach. as usual, she is not ready yet but he is waiting patiently.

Suzanne: if you have a taste for good belgian beers, be sure to visit the Garre (I like to think of it as the flemish spelling of Gary, but it isn't) brew pub in Brugge.


Hi Kristin,

I immediately recognized the dog so patiently waiting by the blue door as a Brittany Spaniel. Our Annie was with us for almost 16 years, and until the last 6 months of so people were still asking if she was a puppy. She would NEVER have sat so quietly outside the door! But she was a very sweet dog.

I've noticed more Brittanys in France than in the U.S. Makes sense, I guess.


To those interested,
here are a few precisions and examples you may find useful:
(If not interested, quickly jump to the last part starting with "Bravo Carol")

--> abréger (un texte) / condenser, résumer (un texte) = to summarize (text)
--> abréger (un mot) / raccourcir (un mot) = to shorten (word)
--> un abrégement / action d'abréger & résultat = summarizing (text) / shortening (word)
--> une abréviation / réduction d'un mot = abbreviation

Abréviations & apocopes are forms of “abrégement.”

“ABRÉVIATIONS” = abbreviations
- M. = Monsieur
- p. = page
- adj. = adjectif
- fém. = féminin
- gramm. = grammaire
- ex. = exemple
- Bd = Boulevard
- Mme = Madame
- Mlle = Mademoiselle
- Dr = Docteur
- No = numéro

The French abbreviations on the above list are pronounced like the French words they represent (Ex: “Mlle” is pronounced “Mademoiselle”),
* In French, the latin abbreviation "etc." is pronounced «èt sétéra»

“APOCOPES” = apocopes
They sort of simplify a word, are used in popular language, but are not “argot” (not 'slang').
They shorten a long or complicated word and more or less create a new one.
Pronunciation: you pronounce them just as you write them
- le Métro = métropolitain (subway)
- la météo = météorologie (weather forecast)
- la colo = la colonie de vacances (summer camp / holiday camp)
- le kiné = kinésithérapeute (physiotherapist)
- l'art déco = les arts décoratifs
- l'hosto = l'hôpital
It may be useful to note here that apocopes are not “diminutifs” ('diminutive words')

“DIMINUTIFS” . The diminutive of a French word must have the same root as the word.
French diminutives are usually a bit longer than the word.
They can express a smaller form of an object, an animal ...
- le jardinet → petit jardin
- la maisonnette → petite maison
- le cabanon → petite cabane
- la camionnette → petit camion (= van – panel truck)
- l'oisillon → petit oiseau
- le chaton → petit chat (kitten)
- la peccadille → un petit péché, faute légère (= minor sin)
As far as people are concerned:
- la fillette is a little girl
- le garçonnet, a little boy.

Diminutives can also express a degree of tenderness and affection...
- tatie –> tante (= aunt). Hence, the affectionate word “Tonton” for "oncle"
- soeurette → soeur
- frérot → frère
With first names:
- Jeannot → Jean
- Jacquot → Jacques
- Michou → Michel / Michèle / Micheline
- Margot --> Marguerite
- Madelon → Madeleine


Bravo Carol for grouping some apocopes around an academic theme! I enjoyed every word of it. I also appreciated your association between the “LANGAGE ENFANTIN” spoken by adults to babies and toddlers, and the “LANGAGE CHIENCHIEN”! I agree with the word "débile", which I would rather attribute to the words themselves.
I must admit that I like “dodo” (sleep) and love “nounours” (teddy bear) … but, that's about it!... I would use the word "toutou" just for fun. Would I ever ask a "chienchien" to give its "papatte" to its "mémère"? You know my answer, don't you?
I can hear you laughing!

I used much to much space ... sorry Kristin! I'll leave the translation of Carol's text to someone else. Bye.


Chere Kristin -

The dog in the photo reminds me of my sister's dog, Jackson, whom she adores like an enfant. She is a total dog person as is my mom who loves Golden Retrievers. Have been very tempted to send them both all your dog photos since I know each one would make their day.

And thank you, Carol, for the delightful aprocopes. I love the word itself and all the examples you sent. Mille fois merci from Tennessee.


Kristin Espinasse

Ophelia, We love the name Jackson -- as our puppy was to be named this way. The kids finally settled on Smokey.

Newforest, take up as much room as you need or want. We love your lessons! I had been wondering just what the word was (aha = diminutif) for all those ettesand otes (recently learned toussote when my friend Flo ordered cough medicine for her son. I love toussote even if I dislike coughs :-)

Your comments need to be columns! They are enriching, educational, and should be shared. And merci encore to Carol for also finding a fun way to help us learn the language.

Kristin Espinasse

Christine, Thanks for sharing your sweet Annie with us. The Brittany Spaniel (glad to learn the name) in this photo was not as patient as he looks! He all but threw himself agaist those windows, wanting to be let in. I guess Gary was right: there mustve been a sweetheart on the other side! Ah, anticipation!


Kristin, it is interesting to see how the ”DIMINUTIFS” became part of this topic on abbreviations and apocoques. In my previous post, I missed out the verbs "diminitifs" and I'm very glad you mentioned one in your comment: "toussoter". I love it (it attracts the attention, doesn't it?)

I made up a short list of verbs, giving the "diminutif" (weaker meaning of the verb), followed by the verb it comes from.

1) toussoter (= to cough slightly)
-> from "tousser" (= to cough)

2) vivoter (= to struggle along)
-> from vivre (= to live)

3) sautiller (= to hop, to jump lightly, to skip along)
-> from sauter (= to jump)

4) trembloter (= to tremble slightly)
-> from trembler (= to shake, to tremble)

5) pleurnicher (= to snivel, to whine)
-> from pleurer (= to cry, to weep)

6) tapoter (= to tap gently, to pat)
-> from taper (= to hit, to knock- also, to type)

A few splashes of colour? What about the colours that are ...'ish'? These adj are also "diminutifs".
Ex: something "blanchâtre" → "tire sur" le blanc = it's not quite white, not as bright and pure as white -> it's 'whitish'.
- bleuâtre = bluish
- verdâtre = greenish
- rougeâtre = reddish
- jaunâtre = yellowish
- grisâtre = greyish

Pat Cargill

Mon Dieu! My petite brain is spinning. Having read all these columns, there is a wealth of learnin' available. ("If I only had a brain...." Auntie Em!!!)

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the photo of les deux chiens. Smokey: you are so precious...your Maman adores you, it's easy to see. Two good dogs. Smiles every time I see you. Thanks Kristin for this excellent blog. Have missed a lot lately, though. Beautiful 80's and blue skies in Roanoke...good digging weather. And I did. And my back KNOWS I did!


Chere Kristin I love the photo of the Brittany Spaniel...excellent photo.

Kristin Espinasse

Cindy, thanks for liking this photo! There may be another one in Cinema Verite tomorrow....

Pat, good to find you digging up your garden. I wish we could do the same here, but the wind has not stopped for over a week! No fun wrestling the Mistral, it always wins!

Kristin Espinasse

Newforest, loving the few splashes of color that you added (those ishes):

 These adj are also diminutifs.
Ex: something blanchâtre → tire sur le blanc = its not quite
white, not as bright and pure as white - its whitish.
- bleuâtre = bluish
- verdâtre = greenish
- rougeâtre = reddish
- jaunâtre = yellowish
- grisâtre = greyish

Merci! I am putting your diminutifs together now (in a future post). Thinking of illustrating this post with a photo that I have of an espagnolette....


Well now, I must say "mille mercis" to you, Kristin, because, thanks to your very last word, I have "une huitième question" to add on the list I sent you last night. Who knows? I might find 2 more and reach "la dizaine", a nice and round number.
Ok, you could use your photo and type underneath: 'This is an illustration for one of the words mentioned in the list of questions'. Up to the readers to find it themselves.

Suzanne, Monroe Township, NJ

Gary, Thank you for the recommendation of Garre in Brugges! Yes, we do plan to sample Belgian beers along with moules frites, North Sea eel, oysters and it is so nice to have a recommendation from someone who has been there. I understand what is daunting is that there are so many wonderful Belgian beers. Merci!


I could have sworn that the photo of the spaniel was a painting at first. I actually thought, oh, I'd like to have a print of that. Do I need glasses?


Tous les jours, m'amusette es les chaton nouvelles chez moi. Les chaton a trois jours seulement et sont adorable.

Susan Dupuis

Metro, Boulot, Dodo -
La vie, abrege en trois mots.

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