Quoi?! (what?!)

You may, or more probably may not, have heard about the controversial changes to the French language earlier this year. Changes to over 2000 French words were approved to simplify them for school children (and me!). The Académie française is the French council for matters relating to the French Language …and had apparently approved these changes years before.

French linguistic purists were horrified by the removal from many words of one of their favourite accents – the pointy little circumflex hat (ˆ) that sits on top of certain vowels – and allowing the word for onion to be spelled ognon (formally ‘oignon’).

“What makes this subject so controversial is that people are passionate about it. To change spelling touches on their childhood, reminds them of the pain, the effort, the successes needed to learn the rules and triumph. The circumflex accents are a kind of trophy,”The Guardian Feb 5 2016

Most people I’ve asked about the changes have been against and I’m not sure whether that disapproval is rooted in nostalgia, a belief that the changes are dumbing down the language or a conviction that suffering through hours of spelling lessons and dictation (and lots of red pen corrections) is a necessary rite of passage to becoming a worthy French citizen.

Personally, I’m quite happy about the changes 🙂 French, like English, is a living language and so will naturally evolve over time.

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Speaking of which, about a year ago I noticed a change in the Australian-English language. I had heard it but I actually saw it posted all over a major supermarket during my last visit to Australia: “There’s 42 cards” which without contraction would be “There IS 42 cards” rather than the correct form: “There ARE 42 cards”. This incorrect use of the auxiliary verb ‘to be’ (‘is’ instead of ‘are’) is now part of the Australian-English living language….It does sound wrong though.

The English language doesn’t have the equivalent of the French Academy. It wouldn’t be possible in any case because there is no longer a ‘standard English’. I have lived in a number of anglophone countries (Australia, England, The United States) I can attest to the fact that English vocabulary and grammar is very ‘fluid’. If only the French language was as fluid, flexible and forgiving about grammar as it is becoming about spelling!

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The other side.

My time recently spent on the other side of the world certainly had its fair share of sadness and turmoil (see last post) BUT it did have another side…and I was still able to let some joy, lightness and space into my life (as is my intention):

I am so very grateful for:

The time I spent with my Dad, sister, brother and his lovely girlfriend;

Being reunited and supported by my dear childhood friends;

Reconnecting with my wonderful cousins, uncle, and aunts;

Getting to know my mum and dad’s friends better;

..and hearing from all of these people (above) about how my special mother had touched their lives in so many different ways was truly heart warming.

I was also blessed by:

Remembering how friendly and cool Australians are in general;

Hearing some of my favorite birds singing every day from the comfort of my cosy childhood bed: the magpies, kookaburras, plovers and butcher birds ;

Wandering around Melbourne and enjoying the asian food, the excellent coffee, street art, trams…the general Aussie ambiance;

The good ‘ol Aussie BBQ! Dad has become quite the master chef;

Enjoying the Australian sky (which is somehow different from anywhere else in the world..brighter…bigger!) and the Australian forest/bush including kangaroos, wallabies, lizards, and birds and Climbing Mount Cannibal numerous times – which is a little hill not far from home and which I climb each time I visit;

Taking part (ie:being forced by my sister to take part) in ParkRun (a world-wide weekly free 5km fun run) and re-discovering that I quite like a short run when my knee is not painful and when I can manage to come first in my age-category.

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Melbourne:coffee capital of the world

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Just one of the lovely laneways of Melbourne.

 

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Melbourne:best Asian food outside Asia.

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On top of Mount Cannibal..on top of the world!

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Sister Anne ecstatic about finally getting to a sausage sizzle at the local Bunnings (hardware) store.

And there was also the liberating time (6 weeks!) away from my husband and children…and of course the joy of finding them again  🙂

There is always ‘The Other Side’….

My cousin Martin is the Rector of Bondi Anglican Churches (yes that IS on the coast of Sydney…nice right?) and he did a wonderful job as Master of Ceremony at mum’s funeral service.

He chose this reading from Ecclesiastes 3: A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

imagesAnd of course the Chinese yin and yang also symbolizes the balancing of the universe’s opposing yet complementary forces.

Yes, fortunately, there is always ‘The Other Side’….

Since my return to France and with the beginning of spring I’ve Enjoyed some time spent with new and ‘old’ friends: Christelle and Jerome and kids at an amusement park ‘Futuroscope’, Anthony and Oanh and their kids (friends from Grenoble who now live in Paris), Coraline and Thomas and their son Victor (who was one of our daughter’s good friends in Shanghai……they returned to France from China at the same time we did) and a weekend in Brittany with a local couple and their kids (the son is another close friend of our daughters).