I don’t speak French, but I love the sound of French being spoken. Edith Piaf and Charles Trenet are on my Pandora list. I don’t understand a word they sing, but their melodic voices soothe my fragile nerves when I hear the chainsaws chewing up the forest near my home.
Even though I don’t know the language, I use many French words in my writing that are common in our English lexicon. The trouble is I couldn’t spell them correctly if you held a gun to my head. I feed these misspellings into my spellcheck so often, I’m surprised it hasn’t shut down.
Here are a few:
1. Rendezvous: Because this word is pronounced ron-day-voo, and the “z” and “s” are silent, I always have trouble getting past the second letter. The rest of the word: forget it.
2. Maître d': I can handle the circumflex over the “i,” but what’s with that dangling “d” and the accent following it anyway? I would spell it Metra Dee. I like the way it looks on paper. In fact, I just might use it as the name of a character in a book. He’d own a French restaurant called the Ron-day-voo.
3. Hors d’oeuvre: In this word the “s” is also silent and an “r” is pronounced quickly after the “d.” It sounds like “dirvre” . . . as in dirt. Instead, the “r” comes almost at the end. What’s with that?
4. Bouillabaisse: One of my favorite dishes. If this dish were on the menu and I had to spell it for my supper, I’d have to fill up on bread.
5. Bourgeois: This lovely sounding word means the French middle class. It makes them sound a bit risqué (I stumbled on this one, too) and daring. I can get the first five letters down, but no matter how correctly I pronounce the last syllable “eois,” spelling it correctly just doesn’t happen.
6. Pot-pourri: I hear the first syllable and I think of Edgar Allen. And how would I know there are two “r’s” in “pourri” and what’s with the dash preceding this second syllable? I would spell it Poepouri—no dash.
One French word I have no trouble spelling is Pernod, even though the “d” is silent. I like to think I can spell it because I love the liqueur (I get that one right, too). Truth is, it’s easy for me to spell because it only has six letters, no accent marks, no dashes, and no danglers.
Another confession: I really can’t blame my trouble with spelling foreign words on the French language. I also have the darndest time spelling jalapanos, japalenos, jalapeños correctly. But that hasn’t stopped me from eating tons of them.
Kathleen Kaska, Marketing Director
I show my age when I select some of these topics, but I didn’t get here without a lot of grueling work and sacrifice, so bear with me. The other day, my web host sent me an automatic renewal notice for the annual website fee. The price had gone up considerably and I wanted to find out why. Actually, I knew there was no “why.” No fees ever stay the same for long. What I really wanted to do was whine and complain. I didn’t get to. A very nice young man apologized for the increase, but mentioned an October sale that would save me $35 a year. All I had to do was switch to “the cloud.” (See my previous: blog post “Hey! You! Get Off of My (i) Cloud!”) Whenever a techie mentions “cloud” my mind goes there. Anyway, he explained that he could refund the money since I’d already paid. I asked if it would change my website and he said it wouldn’t. I rephrased the question several times to make sure we were on the same page, then I told him to go ahead and make the switch. He said my website would be down for about three hours and he would schedule the “migration” during the wee hours of the morning so few would notice.
“Migration?” That’s what you call moving your website from one cyber location to the cloud? I asked him if my site would return to its original location in six months. He didn’t get the joke. To me, migration it is a round-trip—like what some bird species do. Most people think birds migrate because of weather, but most leave when their food supplies dwindle. I hope my website doesn’t starve up there in the cloud.
How about “upload” and “download?” I always use them interchangeably, even though they have different meanings. On his website, “Tech in Our Everyday Lives,” Melton Kazmeyer defines “upload” as data packets that travel from your system to another server on the Internet, while “download” involves those packets that flow from outside servers to your PC. Now I envision little packets of data traveling through cyber space like Internet drones on a mission.
The “wiseGeek” site defines up- and downloading as “electronic data transfers: upload transfers go from a computer to another electronic device to a central server; downloads go from a server to a smaller unit like a computer, iPad, smartphone, etc. An easy way to remember the difference is: “upload” moves from small to large, “download” from large to small.”
Will I remember any of this? Probably not. But I will remember to check my credit card activity to make sure I received my refund.
Kathleen Kaska, Marketing Director