une apocope (ah-poh-cowp)
: the dropping of one or more syllables (or letters) at the end of a word
Ado, MacDo, frigo, véto, resto... the French seem to love abbreviation. This is not to say that others of us are not guilty of truncating terms: in English, for example, we say fridge... Can you help list more wee words or apocopic terms in French or in English? Click here.
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
Note: the following story was written in 2008, when Max was 13 years old. Our son turned 17 yesterday...
It has me dragging my legs to bed while the sun is still shining or putting too much symbolism into the shape of the odd cloud that floats by my bedroom window. The angst, though passagère, is palpable, present as a foreign fragrance in the air.
"Do you smell something rotting here?" I ask the boys while rooting around for the culprit, who I suspect is hiding in these kitchen drawers. I wonder about the strange scent: is it a rat's adieu that I am sensing? And yet...the mouse traps are empty....
Max and his friend, Jack, shake their heads, a bit disappointed to have missed a rotting-rodent sighting.
"No, there's nothing there, Mom." Max confirms. "No mice," Jack seconds.
"Are you sure?" I question, giving the kitchen drawers a good tug while searching for the source of the odor.
The boys insist that they can't smell a thing, and I notice how they slip out of the kitchen lest they catch the foul fever that has seized me.
Surely the smell of something "turning" pervades the air? Oh well. I shut the drawers with a heavy sigh and return to the heap of children's clothing that needs sorting. As the giveaway pile grows, that palpable, perfumed something returns....
I pull one of the little t-shirts close and breathe in the scent of Nine-Years-Old. How long has he had this t-shirt? Four years? It was oversized to begin with and now it is easily too small for my son. Why haven't I given it away yet?
I set the shirt aside and curl up into a chair. Staring out the window, I notice the clouds pass even faster than the years have. I get up, turn my back on the clouds, and search the drawers again; this time for sweets. I am going to make a cake and quit staring at Time.
Later that night, my ears perk up when my son calls for me. "Give me a kiss goodnight, Mom?"
"You bet!" I say, wondering whether this might be the next-to-last time he asks.
"You know," I remind my son, pushing a lock of hair out of his face. "You are still a kid."
"Yes, mom... I am still twelve."
Suddenly, the air seems a little lighter, sweeter....
"And you will still be a kid when you turn thirteen...." I remind him.
Max offers a doubtful look.
"No, Mom," Max argues. "I'll be a teenager."
That sweetness lingers for a moment before the scent molecules rearrange themselves once again, putting a bit of spice into their chemical makeup. I now understand what I have been sensing all along, and while I may have mixed feelings about it, one thing's sure: It smells like teen spirit.*
* * *
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adieu = goodbye
passagère = brief, passing;
Smells Like Teen Spirit = song by Nirvana
Smokey says: it's hard to pose when looking sunward.
By the way, the shutters need painting... or is that a lizard that you are noticing, dear Smokey?
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