Meetup at our place + How to say "fair trade" in French?
Un mijoteuse: a must-have for cool weather comfort!

Tarpin! How to say "super duper" in French?


2009. With Jackie, when Smokey was tarpin young. Lately everyone's growing up around here! (Picture taken months after Smokey's horrible attack.)

Today's word is listed under "Parler Marseillais," or Marseilles lingo, so it may be a regional expression....

tarpin (tar-pahn)

    : a lot, very 

Would then "super duper" = tarpin tarpin? :-)

Audio File & Example Sentence: listen to Jean-Marc: Click MP3 or Wav

Il fait tarpin chaud. It's very hot!
Il y a tarpin de monde. There's a lot of people here! 


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

Modern English and My Daughter Share the Same Birthdate

If you've followed my Facebook or Instagram page lately, you may have sensed a spell of nostalgie. Since our firstborn flew the coop last week, I've been posting photos of the kids when they were petits bouts de choux. Back when they used to say the cutest things.

"Peur pas!" Max would say to his little sister, giving a whole new meaning to "don't cry!" But when kids hit the teenage years those sweet little phrases turn into gros mots and you wonder, Where did the innocence go?

Nowhere, I'm happy to report. Nulle part!

Driving my daughter home from school, she's in an unusually chatty mood. Perhaps that Huffington Post tip worked ("25 Ways to Ask Your Kids 'So How Was School Today?' Without Asking Them 'So How Was School Today?'" worked!) Currently Jackie's talking about her favorite movie....

"Have you seen Will Hunting?"

It takes a minute to translate my daughter's English--so strong is her French accent. "Yes! I think so. It's with Robin Williams and... whose that other guy?"

"Matt Damon!!!"

"Ah. And you say it's a  good film?"

"C'est tarpin bon!"

"Are you watching it in English I hope?"

"Yes," Jackie says, to my surprise. "Only it's hard to understand."

"Why's that?"

"Because they're speaking in old English. (Here, Jackie's exact words are "l'anglais d'avant.")

"Oh? What year did the film come out?"

"I don't know," my 16-year-old says. "1997?"


*    *    *

To leave a comment, click here. If you like, you might enjoy adding a punchline to today's story. I hesitated over this last line: "That old, huh?" before leaving the end as is. The actual response I gave? A good chuckle!

French Vocabulary

petit bout de chou = little kid
le gros mot = cuss word
nulle part = nowhere
peur pas = fear not
tarpin = very
bon = good 


Winetasting at Mas des Brun
Thanks, Meiling Newman, for this snapshot of a previous meetup. Winetastings at our home are informal and unpredictable. If it rains this Saturday we'll end up inside, as cozy as those sardines in Marseilles' vieux port. To reserve your seat for Saturday's 5 o'clock tasting, email [email protected] 

First potatoes
Bye for now. Off to make un potage! Planted a potato that had sprouted on the kitchen countertop. Thrilled to find this at the bottom of the bucket! Enough to make one serving of Soupe à l'oseille et aux pommes de terre, using the sorrel from the garden.

My belle-soeur, Cécile's recipe: Stir fry the following. Add water. Simmer one hour.

  • A few finely sliced potatoes
  • handfulls of sorrel
  • some onion
  • a bouillon cube if you have one
  • s & p
  • bay leaf if you have one handy
  • sour cream (optional), to stir in after

Blend, right there in the pan, with a handy-dandy mixer like this one. 

Sack of potatoes
Took this photo near Valréas. Can you explain this set up? Is it a warding off? Or an IOU to the postman? Fodder for a roving photographer? Comments welcome.

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I learned French by reading Zola novels. My friend Jacqueline's son Lauren, listening to my French said to his mum "He's using words that aren't proper French". Jacqueline replied "They are French words, we just don't use them anymore"


Hi Kristin,
Thank you for sharing the Marseillais word 'tarpin'.
I am a native French speaker (from France), and I'd never heard it before... lol
Have a wonderful day everyone!
Pascal :)


How sweet. Makes me feel so so old though. In my very best old English:)


We loved "Good Will Hunting" and have watched it a few times 'over the years." It's been a number of years though since we last watched this "old" (LOL) movie and I think it's a good time to dust it off and run it again. Only now we are really going to pay attention to the language - hope we understand it all! (All said tongue in check for Jackie) - it is so great they are showing this fantastic movie in Jackie's school and glad she likes it so much. Not too shabby for a first film written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, a couple of guys from south Boston. Started their careers and, of course, Robin Williams was in his best role ever! Get a copy for you and J-M! Another great movie for 'coming of age, at any age' is "Dead Poets Society" also with a wonderful movie with Robin Williams. All would enjoy.

Herm in Phoenix, AZ

Salut Kristin,

Mix a little of Arizona’s country western in the English and Jackie will get even more confused.

We get a hankering for chow or vittles. We have breakfast, dinner (noon) and supper (early evening). When meeting friends we do a “shake ‘n howdy”. In leaving it’s, “see ya latter”.

Judi: I really like “Dead Poets Society”

Joan Linneman

I seem to remember Ben Afleck and Matt Damon winning an Oscar for their screenplay for "Good Will Hunting," and they brought their moms to sit with them that night at the ceremony!

Sheila , Charlotte, North Carolina

It's a gift for the postman !

Bruce in northwest Connecticut

Maybe she was referring to the strong South-Boston accents everyone had?

Elizabeth Lopez

One of our family stories is of my sister asking my parents if they lived in the "next olden days." Lol. Kids (and grandkids) are great!

Christine Webb-Curtis

I don't believe there is much of a retort. When my son asked me if Abraham Lincoln was president when I was a child, I smiled and put my head in my hands--speechless.

As a New Englander, I agree the Boston accent could have contributed to Jackie's impression.

Catharine Ewart-Touzot

Do you speak to your children in English and they reply in French..while living in France I often did that it helped us both to learn more and still feel comfortable answering the conversation quickly. But the first time I saw/heard it on the metro I was quite amazed. Think it is a gift for the postman.

Nancy,                     Cambridge

Just have to correct one small thing- Matt and Ben were/are from Cambridge- not south Boston, and went to the local high school here and performed in the local plays. We have sitings of them from time to time-nice guys!


I think the potatoes (if that's what is in the bag) tied to the mailbox are a gift for the mail carrier.

David Navarre

If they weren't talking like boys from Southie, I would be more gob-smacked that she referred to it as old English. I expect that in those neighborhoods, everyone still speaks the same as they did in 1997, except for new technology.


I am curious about some vocabulary. Mail carrier or post carrier as opposed to mailman is preferred in areas of North America, as well as firefighter etc. Many of our mail-carriers in Vancouver are woman. As a teacher I do try to teach the children the gender inclusive vocabulary. I wonder what the French word is for mail carrier. Is it le facteur for a mailman? What if the mail"man" is a woman? I so enjoy your blog. I look forward to it in my "mailbox" whenever it arrives. Merci Kristin


I loved that movie - so sad that we lost Robin Williams. Have her listen to some of the Bard's plays/movies - that is "old English".

And of course Joan Rivers (that is New York English)- over the top but she made people laugh - did you hear about the laughing clubs in India. So important to our health they have started clubs for laughing with regular meetings! Off to my painting class. Thanks for the lovely post - hope your day is wonderful.


K... up here outside Vaison L R I do that all the time for Madame La Poste - I used to leave stuff in the box for her - but we get so little mail (yey) she'd open it to find dried up fruit... we have a glut of figs just now and I hang a bag up for her! No-one else would dare take them

Kristin Espinasse

Teresa, love the *glut* of figs. And thanks to you and the others who filled me in on what those potatoes were hanging there for. 

Enjoying every comment. Thanks so much for taking the time to respond and share stories and corrections.

P.S. Bruce, Jackie thanks you for suggesting it was the accents, and not her naivete (sp?) that caused the difficulty in understanding. She did seem to think that people speak slower these days. Could this be possible?

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA


Joan Linneman

My old French book gives "le facteur/ la factrice" as the "mail carrriers."
Joan L. again

Doreen Lorand

The local dialect in Boston for "very" is "wicked." The picture was taken when Smokey was wicked young.

Edward Bornet

No punchline. I am just a big fan of Smokey ever since he survived the mauling in 2009, until today. Smokey is my kinda guy dog.

Mary Ann Boysen

About the bag of potatoes. I think they are extra and the owner is offering them to someone who might need a meal… for the taking.


I remember Good Will Hunting well. Wonderfull movie - it was filmed in Toronto in 1997 and they filmed a scene in my Aunt's toy store. They gave my Aunt Libby a role - she appears as the shopkeeper. My Aunt is no longer with us but I have a beautiful picture of her with Matt Damon and Minnie Driver.

Chris Allin

Dear Kristin,

There is something very alluring about foreign films (foreign being relative) during the impressionable late teenage years. Not much older than Jackie is now, I was going to college in Paris when A Man and a Woman was released. It carried me into a magical and romantic world and today the music still takes me back to that time and place. Now that is one really "old" movie!

And, yay! Another au pif recipe! Thank you for sharing Cecile's soup recipe. I join the others who would still like to know how Michele-France makes her tapinade. Hope she is doing okay after her shoulder surgery~


Our dear Kristi,
Today's post (once again) wrapped us in hugs and also brought tears to our eyes.
The wonderful gift that Max gave to his little sister (Peur pas!)--he's watching out for her!--is a most special feeling,a closeness, to stay with them both throughout life.
And the loving gift you and Jean Marc have given them both--their wings-- and to never forget you'll always be there--is a blessing touched by God.
Kristi,your wonderful email and beautiful words touched our hearts and made our day perfect.THANK YOU!!!!!
Natalia XO


I love the "US Mail" box! We didn't see many of them in the Paris area when we lived there, so perhaps they are more common in your area? Think it's a nice treat for the postman. :o)


Could we please tone down the God references? Not everyone is so religious? Thank you!

Chris Allin

How does one say in french... to each her own?


nadine goodban

Bonjour Kristin and al :

The expression "peur pas" : the real thing is : Ne pleure pas !(don't cry)
and as the young kids say it with their delightful accent it sounds
as: peur pas, but it is : pleure pas. Of course it is difficult to discern...

Chris Allin: A chacun son goût! Also: Chacun pour soi.


I remember when Good Will Hunting came out in 1997. I was in high school at the time and all my friends had a crush on Matt Damon and Ben Afleck. Old world, indeed. ;)

Faye Stampe,   Gleneden Beach, OR

I love the photos of Smokey ---- he's my fav! I love this post and I truly enjoy reading all of the comments.

So if you want to comment on anything regarding "God" I say -- good for you. We do not need anyone criticizing or stating what we should "tone" down.

This is an exciting and thought provoking site that many enjoy and should continue to freely express themselves. God bless all of you!

Stay well.


Lunched at a favorite restaurant yesterday and when the cashier gave me a receipt with my number on it she said "You're thirty-five." Had to respond with " I haven't been 35 in 52 years!" Affectueusement toujours, Fred

Kristin Espinasse

Chris, youre a breath of fresh air. Chill indeed. And no offence to GretaMille, either. Ive thought alot about the religious mentions. I think this time you were not referring to mine. As for mine (and I  do not see myself as religious), this is a personal journal so it is natural that from time to time I write about my faith. I do not think I overdo it (though, personally, overdoing faith would be a good thing in my case!) to each his own indeed. Thank you all for expressing yourselves. I learn so much from every comment I read here. You have no idea how much you influence my daily life, whether cooking, gardening, talking to family, or thinking.

Chris Allin

Each posting of French Word a Day is filled with multiple, thought provoking messages or ideas for your readers. And each of us interprets your words in a personal way. It is so interesting to read the responses to your insights, stories and photos. Many of those responses seem honest and sometimes revealing, usually coming from the heart. That can sometimes be risky. I find it disheartening when someone is judged or criticized for their personal thoughts inspired by your writing. (That is what prompted my comment.) In the spirit of community we should be more accepting than that. We are all here, after all, by our own volition.
Don't ever apologize for the content of your postings. You take your readers places we might not go with your honesty, and most seem to welcome the journey. For many of us, faith is part of that journey, and while it can mean different things to different people, it is part of the human spirit.
Thank you for being so very gracious to your readers, Kristin.

PS... I love the photo from inside the cabanon on Instagram!

Kristin Espinasse

Chris, thank you for your thoughtful words. You manage to express what the heart feels. May we all go gently forward today. So much going on in this world, in our own homes, and in our minds. Tolerance, kindness, forgiveness, understanding. How we struggle to keep on track. 

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