formation (warning: faux amis!)

apocope + favorite blogs on France

A child care center in Flayosc. Seems like yesterday that my son went to the crèche... read on in today's story column. 

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...
There is something in the air around here and it smells like Adieu, like goodbye to a time and a place; fleeting and fading... like freckles on a child's face.

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.*

                                *     *     *

:: Le Coin Commentaires & Favorite Blogs on France ::
Comments, corrections, and stories of your own are welcome here, in the comments box. Tip: no need to include a Web Site URL in the sign-up box (only if you would like to share your blog or website).

Speaking of websites, now's the time to share a favorite French-themed blog or website. Lynn at Southern Fried French tells me that  the blog A Small Village in France is hysterical and a favorite read. Check it out and share your favorites here!
Test your French comprehension with this bilingual story by our daughter Jackie. Have you read her essay on makeup?  You can read it here in French or in English! 

French Vocabulary

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?

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal week after week. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, I kindly ask for your support by making a donation today. Thank you very much for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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On Children
Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.


How about "sympa" for sympathique?

Parisian Fields

Or apéro for apéritif?

David Grundy

I like the idea of this and one comes across these every day. But at the time of wanting to recall some of them my memory fails me. Oh dear! What was I going to type next...

macdo=MacDonalds [Fr]
telly=television [GB]

Best wishes to all

Marti Schmidt

I remember when I read this the first time, and thinking about how time flies by with our children. Babies, to kids,to teenagers to, thanks for reposting this Bitter -Sweet memory.

James, NYC

Le manif : demonstration (political)

John Hall

As a writer, I live typo as in I love typographical error

Karen Whitcome  (Towson, Md)

Dear Kristin,

I can think of no other writer who manages to evoke melancholy and humor at the same time. A teardrop barely leaves my eye when a smile lifts my cheeks towards heaven and pushes it back.

My son will turn 17 in two weeks. Each year since I've been following you, we are one in sharing these thoughts and feelings and it helps me to have you put it in words.

Bon anniversaire, Max!! Choose a delicio resto to celebrate!

** I'm curious about the sign at the beginning that seems to read "The Teeth of Milk"????


cred(ibility) [as in "street cred"]
chrysanth(emum) [U.K.]

The other way around, it's called aphaeresis:
(chrysanthe)mum [U.S.]


Ordo, Sarko... (I guess it will now have to be Hollando!)

Could La dent du lait have anything to do with milk teeth?

Sandra E Chubb

loco for locomotive
vac for vacuum cleaner
Jag for Jaguar (car)
leccy for electricity
bra for brassiere
plane for aeroplane
phone for telephone
flu for influenza
vet for veterinary surgeon
vet for veteran (military)


Rina Rao.

Best wishes for your son, on his B'day. I am sure, all parents reading this can really 'feel' your words.
Marvel at the way time flies and in the process, educates us.
Bon weekend.

Patty Austin

demo for demonstrate and
reno for renovate

still sleepy maybe more later
-patty in Bethesda, MD today


L'ordi for ordinateur, la tele for television.

And the newest amalgam, replacing Merkozy (Sarko and Merkel): Merde (for Merkel and Hollande).

And please tell me it's not going to rain every day the week after next, as Accuweather says! That would be too cruel!

judith dunn

Kristin... and there is 'clodo' for clochard...
Judi in Tallahassee.. et bon weekend a tous!

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Happy Birthday Max!

Another bitter sweet story-- thanks Kristin for sharing your life with us.

Your writing resonates with warmth, insight & love of family.

Be well.

Carolyn Chase

These came to mind first:
Goodbye - bye
hamburger - burger
French Fries - fries
Coca Cola - Coke
Bicycle - Bike
Rehab - Rehabilitation
Doctor - Doc
Not really dropping letters necessarily, but shortening the words.
Worse is the use of initials (TGA in France for example) for so many things, especially in business jargon.

Herm in Phoenix

Salut tout le monde,

BCNU (Be seeing you)

I'm cool in Flagstaff with the tall pines for a few days


lab for laboratory or cute dog
fax for facsimile
eco for ecology (eco-friendly goods, etc.)
sax for saxophone
pjs for pajamas
expat for expatriate

this is fun! that's all for now - enjoying beautiful, clear blue skies. hope all are well.

Patty Austin

Sorry. I thought I posted but maybe I mis-typed

lab for laboratory or cute dog
sax for saxophone
eco for ecology (eco-friendly goods, etc.)
fax for facsimile
expat for expatriate
This is fun, thanks. Enjoying ;ovely clear blue skies here today near the nation's captitol. Hoping all are well! -patty


Thank you for sharing your favorite French-themed blogs. I'm excited to check them out! Cheers~

Michael Reardon

When I was a student in Grenoble, the student restaurant was the "resto u".

GwenEllyn, the Brain Geek

How about one of the first - vélo?

GwenEllyn, the Brain Geek

Oh, et biblio !

Priscilla Fleming Vayda

I love this post, Kristin. My "children" are in their 40s and 50s and grandkids range from almost 2 to 18, so I can relate to your nostalgia about kids growing up. I love your writing in this mini-memoir and both your feeings and your spirit shine through. As a dear friend tells me, keep on keeping on!

Priscilla Fleming Vayda

I forgot to add, for your Dad, Priscilla from La Nouvelle Orleans.

Judi Boeye Miller, Lake Balboa, CA

First of all, I loved the story about Max and "Smells Like Teen Spirit" - I still like Nirvana and I'm 67 yrs old - I guess I'll always be a 60's + rocker! Second, I adore the pictures of the 'puppies' - they are so adorable, they just have to still be puppies, although I know they are now more like teenagers! Third, here is an interesting blog about Paris Enjoy your day - or I guess I should say 'evening' once you get this!

Pauline Smith

Biblio for bibliotèque
Sympa for sympathique
Ciné for cinéma


Hi dear Kristin,
Once again your words have so beautifully wrapped themselves around our hearts.
This story about dear Max(Happy 17th Birthday!)just captures time in all its fleeting essence--from 13 to 17 in the blink of an eye.We can feel your love for each other both then and now.
Tears sting my eyes!
Love, Natalia XO

Kate C

dodo - dort (sleep)
lolo - lait (milk)
cuppa - cup of tea

I remember this story and love how it resonates still, with your son on the cusp of young adulthood. A familiar ache we recognize as parents, all part of the process!

Cheryl in STL

Joyeux anniversaire, Max! And thank you, Krisitn, for providing me the flashbacks on the growing up of my two sons!

Liza in Ann Arbor She's absolutely hilarious. And, crafty and beautiful photographs. Those are my faves ('side from this one bien sur!)

Jan Roese

Two words that come to mind:

dicto - dictionary

Joan L

How about:

-el for elevated train in Chicago
-repo for what happens to your car
-hypo for administering medicine
-metro for the subway in Paris and
-mob for scooter (mobylette)

Bon weekend, tout le monde!

pat tinker

I like aristo for aristocrat. -- in American English - super for superintendant - emo for emotion - legit for legitimate -

Josee Fauteux

Et "l'hosto" for hospital...
Bonne soiree

Marianne Rankin

How about "faves" for "favorites" in English?

There is "d'ac" for "d'accord" in French. And the expression "au pifometre," loosely translatable as "by feel," can be "au pif."

My little boy's birthday is 2 week's after Max's, on May 31. And the "kid" will be 21! I have the same sense of the years flying by, as he will now be an adult in every respect - une "grande personne" who has been taller than I since he was about 12 1/2.

There is a French saying, "On a toujours vingt ans dans quelque coin du coeur." I think it's intended to mean that one can always feel young, in spite of getting older. At this time, I think of it as always remembering our children as children, and in some corner of our hearts, they will always be as they were at earlier ages.



... out of Africa:)


Just saw Maxim's facebook page, quite the young man, and ?ladies man?


and WT for wine tours !


I've heard "dico" for dictionnaire.

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