Thalias Hospitality

Parlerez Vous Français aves Nous this International Francophonie Day?

© Chris Karidis

The French language is being celebrated this month, presenting an opportunity to get to know one of the most beautiful languages in the world that, for an added bonus, can connect you with millions of people all over that world. Whether they’re French, Cambodian or any of the other nationalities that share this world, the French speakers of Cambodia are part of a 321-million-people-strong global community of people who speak their language. That’s 321 million potentially life-altering encounters, insights, inspirations and connections that are accessible thanks to the extraordinary power of a shared language that can bridge divides across geographies, generations and cultures. This connection between the French speakers of this world will be celebrated this March 20 on International Francophonie Day, a date created by Unesco in 1970 to mark the creation of the agency that would go on to become the International Organisation of La Francophonie (IOF). The French language is the fifth most-spoken language in the world, and is the fourth most used on the internet (after English, Spanish and Arabic). It has long had an important place on the global level as a symbol of culture and creativity, and also of democracy and humanism. Speaking at a celebration of this day five years ago, Ms Audrey Azoulay, then Director-General of Unesco, spoke of the French language’s capacity to “unite people, to create spaces of solidarity and mutual understanding, to reflect together on our common future”. It’s also practical. Among respondents to a survey conducted by the IOF last year, people said that speaking or learning French helped them to get a job, study, find information, conduct research and access other cultures. Speaking another language broadens your horizons by an unimaginable magnitude. And for those for whom French is a second (or third, fourth, or fifth!) language, the advantages go even deeper. Bilingualism has been associated with a massive range of subtler benefits including greater success in education and work, greater ease when learning further languages, higher average earnings, and it also helps to stave off dementia, which is always nice. It also helps to enrich the speaker’s life through broadened horizons and the capacity to consider things from different perspectives. Bilingual people tend to be more creative and flexible, they can be more open-minded and also find it easier to focus on a variety of tasks at the same time. And then there is also the opportunity to explore cultures from all over the world that may share common historical experiences. As Madame Azoulay said during her speech, “it is this diversity of destinies, gathered in the language that we share, that we are invited to celebrate”. For an opportunity to explore more about French language and culture, the Alliance Française in Siem Reap and the French Institute in Phnom Penh. The Alliance Française will be celebrating this week from 18 to 26 March, with a number of events for their students, including karaoke, poetry readings and films. All of these are also open to the public to join in. Keep an eye on their Facebook page to find out more about events and about signing up for their extremely good value French language courses. The Institut Français in Phnom Penh will also be holding events this week, and you can find out plenty about the huge range of events and activities they host on their Facebook page. N’hésitez pas à les joindre. Even if you don’t speak French, there’s so much more in common than you think.

Does speaking French ever get you into a pickle?

(“Get into a pickle” = get into a little trouble…) Picking up a language’s idioms is a fantastic way to deepen not only your language skills, but also to deepen your connection with that language’s culture. Food is not simply the fuel that sustains our bodies, it nourishes our minds too, and it also serves as a means though which we communicate our sense of who we are, where we came from, who raised us and how. Language, thought and culture are so entwined that it’s no surprise to find that food is so deeply embedded into everyday language in France, especially in the form of its idioms. With all that in mind, here’s our quick guide to some of France’s favourite foodie sayings. Avoir de la Bouteille (having some bottle) — used to describe someone who is wise through experience and age, like a fine wine! (Funnily enough, the English equivalent almost means the opposite. Someone’s who’s “got some bottle” is usually someone who is showing a little more courage or confidence than perhaps their position or capacities merit. On the other hand, if you did do something that took some bottle, then it’s probable you’ve shown more than common courage. And if you’ve “bottled it”, it means you’ve lost your bottle and been a coward, not doing what you could or should have done. English bottles are confusing. Mettre de l’Eau Dans Son Vin (putting water in his wine) — something a wise person would do at judicious moments, which is to compromise or take a more moderate stance on something (i.e. dilute one’s wine or position). While this sounds like a heresy today, pouring a little water into your wine used to be an accepted practice when wines tended to be coarser and harder to swallow. Thus, if you cut your views with a little water, they become easier for the other person to take in. Retourner Quelqu’un Comme une Crêpe (flipping someone like a crêpe) — on the other hand, you wouldn’t want to add too much water to your wine and become too compromising in case someone too easily changes your mind, or flips you like a crêpe! Se Faire Rouler Dans la Farine (to be rolled in flour) — of course, if the other person is smarter or less naive than you, it might be that you’ll end up being taken advantage of (rolled in flour) anyway. Raconter des Salades (talking salads) — and if someone’s trying to take advantage of you, it’s very likely that they’ll also be telling you lies. This idiom has a parallel in English with the phrase “word salad”, meaning someone who is using too many words in order to create confusion, or sometimes to hide their own ignorance and pretend they’re smarter or more knowledgeable than they actually are. Tourner au Vinagire (turn to vinegar) — at this point, the situation might start to turn a bit sour, into vinegar, i.e. something that started out good has become bad or unpleasant. La Moutarde lui Monte au Nez (the mustard is rising to his nose) — so now you’re probably getting more and more impatient and angry, and the sharp smell of mustard is tingling your nostrils. Ménager le Chèvre et le Chou (sparing the goat and the cabbage) — at this point in this terrible situation, someone else may intervene and try to calm things down. But they need to be careful how they do it. If they try to please both sides (sparing both the goat and the cabbage who clearly have opposing opinions on whether or not the goat should eat the cabbage), then it’s possible that no one will be happy in the end. Unfortunately, sometimes the only way out of this situation is to keep one of Cambodia’s many foodie idioms in mind, and Tuk Moat Si Moan: save your mouth for eating chicken.