I have a system for learning new words in French.
I cut paper into small squares. When I come across a new word or phrase, I write the French on one side of the paper and the English on the other. I keep these bits of paper in a dish on the bedside table. In the evening, before I go to sleep, I read through the words in the dish. When I think I’ve learned a word, I put the bit of paper on which it is written into an envelope.
These are the words and phrases in the dish at the moment – in no particular order:
Echelle (f) – a ladder
Effaroucher – to alarm, to scare away
Marteau (m) – a hammer
Gonzesse (f) – a bird (young woman)
Forgeron (m) – a blacksmith
Obnubiler – to obsess, to haunt
Rampe (f) – a bannister
Colle (f) – glue
Coller – to stick
Mordre – bite
Mordu – bitten
Giboulée (f) – sudden shower
Plombage (m) – tooth filling
Tout vient à point à celui qui sait attendre – everything comes to him who waits
Pansement (m) – sticking plaster
Boulot (m) – work
Boulot, Boulotte – plump
Megarde – accidentally, by mistake
Omniprésente – Ubiquitous
Paquerette (f) – daisy
Tabouret (m) – stool
Escabeau (m) – stool, stepladder
Jument (f) – mare
Poulain (m) – foal
Pouliche (f) – filly
Braquage (m) – hold-up (as in bank robbery)
Braquer – to point revolver, to turn wheel of car
Transite (m) – passing (as in question asked every morning by the nurse, “et le transite c’est bon?)
Transiter – to pass
Musculation (f) – weight training
Couilles (m pl) – balls
La trompe couillon – hard to translate, and not in the dictionary. Best illustrated by another Tale from the Clinic.
Madame Coquette emerges from the bathroom, eyebrows defined, cheeks rouged, bright coral lipstick meticulously applied, as usual.
An Aide Soignante (care assistant) is helping me into my wheelchair. We both turn to admire Madame Coquette’s make-up. She never appears in public without it.
“La maquillage, impeccable! Comme toujours,” I say.
Madame Coquette pauses in the doorway. She winks with her one good eye.
“La trompe couillon,” she says with a flirtatious smile.
The care assistant and Madame Coquette rock with laughter.
I am puzzled. I think it is something to do with “trompe l’oeil” but I’m not sure. I reach for the dictionary.
Madame Coquette tells me the expression is “vulgaire”. I won’t find it in the dictionary.
The care assistant cups her hand at her groin and moves it as though weighing something.
“Couilles,” she says, still laughing.
“C’est vulgaire aussi,” says Madame Coquette.
I find “couilles” in the dictionary.
I’m adding three new papers to the pile in the dish.
Flirter – to flirt
Drageuse (f) drageur (m) – flirtatious
Caresser une idée – to flirt with an idea.
I’m flirting with the idea of using all the words in the dish in another Tale.