typique: “accent”

accent (n.m.) : accent

When I was living in Paris, I used to pride myself on the fact that no one could place my accent.  Guessing my nationalité became something of a competitive sport – with espagnole, maghrébine, iranienne, grecque and italienne all ranking among the most frequent guesses.  That said, everyone was certain that I wasn’t French (save the owner of the local doner kebab shop), and so whatever my accent was – it certainly wasn’t français.

Well, the other night, I attended my first ever French Tuesdays party (where, it seemed, the majority of people were not French – but an eclectic mix of other foreigners).  That said, I was the extended invitee of a Frenchman, who upon meeting me, observed, “T’as l’accent parisien, toi”.

Now, while ça ne veux pas dire that I have a perfect French accent – it does mean that despite my rambling 15+ year French education through the ranks of québécois, belge, haïtien, et français teachers, I finally ended up on the other side with a Parisian-bred accent.

My elated, inflated ego à part – it seemed appropriate to set up a little video montage of some French accents across l’hexagone, and the rest of francophonia.

1) L’accent parisien

2) L’accent du nord de la France

3) L’accent du Midi

4) L’accent de Marseille

4) L’accent québécois

5) L’accent belge

Vive la difference: Regional French accents are in (BBC)


nationalité > nationality

espagnole, maghrébine, iranienne, grecque, italienne > Italian, North African, Iranian, Greek, Italian

français > French

“T’as l’accent parisien, toi” > You have a French accent [you]

ça ne veux pas dire > That doesn’t mean

québécois, belge, haïtien, et français > Canadian (from Quebec), Belgian, Haitian, and French

à part > aside



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verbiage: “apprendre”

apprendre (v.) : learn

Whenever people ask me to help them apprendre le français, I have to laugh and explain : near-native fluency does not a good tutrice make.  I started learning French quand j’avais sept ans, and frankly, I don’t remember half the grammar rules they taught me.  I can tell you what’s right and what’s wrong, but I often can’t expliquer pourquoi.

At least signs should be universal. Except I can't tell if this sign in Rome means a) Men carrying heavy things or b) No carrying heavy things

I used to wear my relative ignorance of the rules of French grammaire as a badge of pride – as if it somehow verified my status as a deserving francophile.  (The hard-and-fast grammar rules of English, si je les ai jamais apprises, are even more foreign to me.)  But my flippant familiarity with both of these languages has recently become rather bothersome, mostly because I am now learning a troisième language: l’italien.

All of the aches and pains of starting a new langue from scratch (example: limiting my conversation to ordering food or talking about the weather) are now anything but a vague and distant souvenir.  Verbs and their ever-challenging conjugaisons are the newfound bane of my existence, and if Italian weren’t so darn fun to pronounce, I might’ve thrown in the towel a few months back.  (For the record, my favorite word is “spazzolino” (toothbrush)).

This isn’t the first time I’ve embarked on a similar aventure.  As with French classes, I had the good chance to begin piano lessons early on in life, at the ripe age of four.  By second grade, when most of my friends were just débutants, I was moving on to composers with recognizable names.  But this headstart in musique

Green Eggs and...Proscuitto? (Not exactly the same as "ham"...)

while providing me with a life-long talent and favorite pastime – was a disadvantage when it came to learning a deuxième instrument : la guitare.  I fought with a friend’s Paul Bunyan-sized guitar for a few months last fall, and while my compréhension of the music theory advanced quickly, mes doigts were slow to adapt.  After an uphill battle with barre chords, my frustrated fingers happily sent the guitar the way of Craigslist.

While I may have raté the guitar (at least temporarily), I won’t be so quick to give up on Italian.  First off, I learned from my Bunyan-sized-error (note to self: next time, buy a normal-sized guitar) that it’s best to invest in worthwhile outils.  I thus sprung for the full 5-level Rosetta Stone Italian package, a sizeable investment for a young, struggling New Yorker.  I also learned that life’s tough as an autodidacte.  No one is going to schedule lessons for me, and by the time I get home from work, the last thing I want to do is aller à l’école.  So school starts early chez Carly – and believe me, I’m toujours tentée to sleep through my self-imposed 6:30 am cours.

Learning the difference between "push" (spingere) and "pull" (tirare) on-the-fly in an Italian "chiesa" (church, "église" in French).

Luckily, contrairement à the guitar, my Italian was quickly put to good use – on a two-week vacation in June.  From Capri to Sicily, Bologna to Rome, my anglophone co-travelers m’ont confiés their lives – and I somehow got us everywhere we needed to go.  In fact, the only flub I made – at a little restaurant in Reggio Emilia – was trying to order one appetizer for four people to share.  Call it a cultural misunderstanding or an honest mistake, but my “uno per tutti” – in French, un pour tous – resulted in 3 plates of charcuterie too many.  As we rolled out of the restaurant (our appetizers followed by a hearty pasta course) I vowed that the words “per tutti” would never grace my lips again.

If there’s a lesson in all this, I suppose it’s perseverance – or humility, for that matter.  (Or that Italian is more similar to French than the guitar is to piano…)  Either way – with Italian, it seems the stars are aligned in my favor.  One week after my return from Italy, une amie italienne from Paris moved to New York.  She’s staying for the summer to learn English, and has introduced me to a new obsession : the trilingual conversation.  I really couldn’t be more pleased…

I just hope she doesn’t ask me to explain English grammar.


apprendre le français > learn French

tutrice > tutor (female)

quand j’avais sept ans > when I was 7 years old

expliquer pourquoi > explain why

ignorance > ignorance, lack of knowledge

grammaire > grammar

si je les ai jamais appris > if I ever learned them

troisième > third

l’italien > Italian (the language)

langue > language

souvenir > memory

conjugaisons > conjugations (of verb tenses)

aventure > adventure

débutants > beginners

musique > music

deuxième > second

la guitare > the guitar

compréhension > understanding

mes doigts > my fingers

raté > failed

outils > tools

autodidacte > autodidact, self-taught individual

aller à l’école > go to school

toujours tenté > always tempted

cours > class

contrairement à > unlike, contrary to

m’ont confié > entrusted me (with)

un pour tous > one for all

charcuterie > cold cuts (european style, which is not the same as deli meats in the US)

une amie italienne > an italian friend (female)

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snapshot: portable

portable (n.m.) : cell phone (abbrevation of téléphone portable)

I’m usually one of those people who is a little slow to accept new technologie.  I prefer to keep my iPod, portable, and my appareil photo separate, for example – and I’m a sucker for old media platforms like le tourne-disque.

But every once in a while, someone does something truly innovative with all this poche-sized power – and I start considering crossing over to the tout-en-un, amazing wonder gadget myself.

Par exemple, this ridiculously cool video filmed on a Nokia portable – that won the Nokia Shorts competition 2011.

“Splitscreen : A Love Story” (a perfectly franglophone NY-Paris histoire d’amour)


technologie > technology

appareil photo > camera

tourne-disque > record player

poche > pocket

tout-en-un > all-in-one

Par exemple > for example

histoire d’amour > love story

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quickie : Italie

Italie (n.f.) : Italy

And check out some more of my sister's amazing photography from Italy! (If she can make me look good stuffing my face, imagine what else she can do!) http://noregretscoyote.wordpress.com/

As I briefly mentioned in another post, I recently had the chance to revisit the pays de mes ancêtres: Italie.

This was a trip en famille, but not to see family members, as I haven’t any known relatives in Italy anymore.

However, this was a celebration of all things italien, and most especially, la gastronomie (with me, what else would do?).  I covered a good deal of ground – from Rome to Venice, Bologna, Reggio Emilia, Capri, Taormina, and so on – and even video-taped a number of sneak peaks for the website DailyFoodandWine.com.

See below links to my sneak-peek videos & critiques gastronomiques from Rome:

Very Italian Pizza (video) (review)

Antica Salumeria (video) (review)


pays de mes ancêtres: Italie > land of my ancestors : Italie

en famille > as a family

italien > Italian

la gastronomie > gastronomy

critiques gastronomiques > culinary reviews

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snapshot : “encore”

encore (adj.) : again

La première fois that I saw Ben L’Oncle Soul sing, it was in Paris, in the Haut Marais, next to the parc, Square du Temple.  And that time, I didn’t get a very good photo.

Lucky me, I got the chance to le revoir yesterday, as part of Fête de la musique.  While MakeMusicNewYork has attempted to create leur propre version of this annual French day of free music, the official French festivities went down at Central Park Summer Stage.

Ben L'Oncle Soul, Central Park Summerstage

For those who missed the action last night, you can still catch Ben, ce soir, at the Hiro Ballroom for FranceRocks.


La première fois > The first time

Haut Marais > “high” (north) Marais

parc > park

le revoir > see him again

Fête de la musique > Annual French music festival

leur propre > their own

ce soir

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verbiage : monter

monter: climb, to go up (and a plethora of other meanings)

When I first decided to head back to Paris for vacation, my sister turned to me and asked – “Why would you spend all that money to go on vacation somewhere that you’ve already been, let alone lived?”.  The truth was, I wasn’t looking for vacation in the sense of an aventure.  What I wanted was me détendre – an experience like heading to your childhood home for the weekend – except dix fois plus intéressant.

The view from my friend's window onto the Place des Abbesses.

And so I headed back to the city of lights and love, expecting to crash on friends’ canapé in a messy hole-in-the-wall of a flat (whose address I was unaware of even as I stepped off the plane, so I suppose it was still a bit of an aventure after all…).  My divey-expectations (see: lack of expectations) persisted as I stepped off the metro in Pigalle, to monter the hill to Place des Abbesses, at the coeur of Montmartre.

For me, Montmartre was always a neighborhood touristique – somewhere I wandered with family or friends who were visiting Paris for the first time.  On a few occasions, I had spent a leisurely weekday morning munching on a croissant and sipping coffee at a café – but those were the few calm, idyllic seconds I had ever spent in the place.  Et surtout, Abbesses recalled, for me, nights of being typiquement américain – eating delicious fondue and drinking wine out of biberons at the famous-turned-infamous Refuge des Fondues.

But when, my friend Matthieu pushed back the porte to his new building, it was as if I had stepped into another Montmartre – the one that lies behind secret doors, away from the swarms of tourists.   I smelled the slighty-dank, chilly stone scent of a traditional Parisian foyer.  (On many a summer day, that miraculous and sudden froid is the best reprieve from the dogged Parisian summer.) The entryway was beautifully tiled, the éscaliers a well-preserved wood swirl upwards, dotted with cheery fenêtres onto a small courtyard.  And the apartment itself?  Adorable.

This is not to say that all apartments in Montmartre are typique, charmant, and certainly not bon marché.  But in this case, I was staying in a Parisian gem – a lovely little flat with antique molding and a generously-sized cuisine.  Considering that these friends had formerly lived in the flat where we threw the majority of our rowdy parties – an appartement that never seemed clean, even after 3-4 hours of diligent scrubbing – I was floored.

Pigs' feet at the Rue Dejean market.

In truth, Montmartre turned out to be the great surprise of my trip.  Rather than spend most of my time revisiting my old stomping grounds in the 11e, I woke up steps from the meilleur baguette de Paris 2010 & 2011.  I vélo’ed past the rowdy Marché de Barbes and eyed strange fruits at the Marché Africain on Rue Dejean.  In the evening, we would wander up to Sacre Coeur with the insouciance of locals – no worries about making the last métro or getting lost on our way down the hill.  The once annoying crowds of tourists became humorous, once I was not one of them.  And our daily descent from Montmartre on bike or on foot – to munch on the Pain des Amis along the Canal St. Martin, to wander the covered galleries of the 2e, or to lécher les vitrines of Rue Montmartre – became my favorite part of the journée.

Some of the lovely homes of the Villa Léandre.

In addition to my unexpected enjoyment of the day-to-day ease of life in Montmartre, my gracious hosts revealed to me petits coins of this delightful quartier that I would have never found on my own.  One day, it was a tour of writer Boris Vian’s former apartment – with a stunning terrace view over the coeur of Pigalle.  The next, it was a ramble through the Villa Léandre (where we happily cracked the code on a gate and sampled the stunning qualité de la vie of the rich and savvy locals).  The list really does go on and on.  (The best online tour, that I’ve since found, of my favorite parts of the quartier can be found here.)

The view from Boris Vian's terrace. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Upon my return from Paris, mes amis newyorkais have asked on several occasions – comment c’était? And I really have very little to say on the subject.  It was a view into the blissful retraite that might one-day await me, should I move back to Paris in a stage of stable chomage.  (The rêve of moving back to write full-time is a constant, if ellusive tentation itself.)  What I recall most vividly is the sense that I love Paris in the daytime – the ability to ramble about, exploring and intentially losing oneself – and I’m not sure I’d ever want to work a steady 9-5 in that city.  Perhaps it’s just the histoire artistique of the alternative living of Montmartre rubbing off on me – but I’m happy to keep Paris for the day when I can move back full-time on my terms.  Until then, she will remain my personal retraite – the place where I feel most myself, the eternal ingratiated étrangère.


aventure > adventure

me détendre > relax

dix fois plus intéressant > 10 times more interesting

canapé > sofa, couch

Pigalle > the infamous Parisian red-light district

coeur > heart

Montmartre > a village-like neighborhood in the 18e

touristique > touristy

Et surtout > And most of all

typiquement américain > typically american

fondue > fondu

biberons > baby bottles

Matthieu > Matthew

porte > door

froid > cold

éscaliers > stairs

fenêtres > windows

Adorable > adorable

typique, charmant > quaint, charming

bon marché > a good deal (inexpensive)

cuisine > kitchen

appartement > apartment

meilleur baguette de Paris > best baguette in Paris

vélo > bicycle

marché > market

insouciance > carefree-ness

métro > subway

Pain des Amis > Bread of Friends @ Du Pain et des Idées near Canal St. Martin

lécher les vitrines > “lick the windows”, window-shopping

journée > daytime, day (in the sense of the length of the whole-day)

petits coins > little corners

quartier > neighborhood

qualité de la vie > quality of life

mes amis newyorkais > my newyorker friends

comment c’était? > How was it?

retraite > retirement, retreat

chomage > unemployment

rêve > dream

tentation > temptation

histoire artistique > artistic history

étrangère > stranger, foreigner (feminine)

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quickie : dégustation

dégustation (n.f.) – tasting

A Paris preview : hanging out on writer Boris Vian's former balcony.

Je sais, je sais, I’ve been M.I.A. since returning from a very reposant  week in Paris.  I will certainly debrief on all my travels soon – but probably not until I get back from Italie in mid-june.  So for now, let’s backtrack with a bit of what I have been keeping up with lately – and that means food-writing.

Check out this vidéo of me hanging out at DFW’s (Daily Food & Wine) most recent team dégustation – featuring a Bulldog Gin cocktail with “detoxicle” glaçon.

And lisez my latest review of a chic place to bruncher : Chicago’s Publican.


je sais > i know

reposant > restful, relaxing

Italie > Italy

lisez > read (conjugation of lire)

bruncher > (go to) brunch, anglicized verb

vidéo> video

glaçon > ice cube

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