•  ... = F + MP3 + TAB + URL + USB + 404

    F is for function (F1 key, F 11 key etc. on your computer keyboard)

    MP3 is for Motion Picture [experts group 1 Audio-layer] 3, a system enabling (audio-)files to be compressed to 10% of their original size.

    TAB was originally the tab[ulation] key used to indent paragraphs ; to tabulate means to arrange data in a systematic form.

    URL is an acronym for uniform resource locator (an electrical thumbprint* for addresses); uniform because they are all in the form: { access protocol (http:// + domain + .com }

    USB, the standard connection socket, is a acronym too : universal serial bus.

    Don’t forget the dongle : originally a spyware device, it now refers to any electronic key.

    Techies’ words can sometimes be figures : a 404 message reads 4  (error on the client’s side) + 0 (error in general syntax) + 4 (error on the  computer side). Maybe that’s why in tech slang, a 404 is someone inept (“un vrai nul”) !

    But sometimes a mistake in writing numbers can create a huge trademark : a mistake in typing Googol (for mathematicians, the number name of 1 followed by a hundred zeros) gave birth to the world’s most famous search engine.

    Why not shorten brand names ? If “sky peer to peer” is too long, you reduce it to Skype ; same for “Echo bay technology group” which became e-bay

    Letters for techies, words for others …


    *Thumbprint : empreinte digitale (du pouce).

    your comment
  • Do you happen to know of Ben Hatch ? If not, I strongly advise you to read Road to Rouen, a hilarious (not only that, of course) travel book telling of France and the French. I have selected the following passage about les Machines de l'Ile:

    "In Nantes they have a 45-foot-high, 25-foot-wide mechanical wood and metal elephant. Like some clockwork creation (un mécanisme sorti d'un roman de ...) from a nineteenth-century Jules Verne novel, this beast resides on the outskirts of (les quartiers périphériques de ...) the city, like some caged King Kong, in a giant hangar. It takes 50 passengers a time (50 à la fois) on a 45-minute clomp (marcher d'un pas lourd) around the Ile de Nantes. In Britain its route would be stewarded (il suivrait un chemin supervisé) with the intensity of a royal walkabout (un bain de foule de la famille royale). Yet in France, when we visited, small kids risked being stomped into (se faire transformer en ...) pâté as they darted in and out (entrer et sortir en courant) of its tree-trunk-sized legs (des pattes grosses comme des troncs d'arbres), with just a  solitary, whistle-blowing security guard (un simple agent de sécurité équipé d'un sifflet) there to stop them." (p. 65)

    >> Note about "the outskirts" : the author is right to say this, since Les machines, and before them the shipyards (les chantiers navals) were in the faubourgs / quartiers périphériques -- neither the suburbs (banlieue) nor the city centre.

    *Road to Rouen (Headline Publishing Group, London, 2013)

    your comment
  • ALBERT C. BARNES (1872 – 1951)

    ... was an art-collector, a philanthropist; Barnes is also famous for his long-enduring friendship with philosopher John DEWEY (1859-1952)

    Albert C. Barnes was born in a working-class family; the family lived in a hard, working-poor Philadelphia neighborhood, Kensington, the home of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa. Barnes started medical studies, and became a doctor when he was 20, but preferred research as a chemist. Because he was so poor, he had to work to earn money (was a tutor, a boxer, and semi-professional baseball player).

    He remains famous for developing an antiseptic solution he marketed as Argyrol, a treatment for infant blindness. The drug was financially so successful that, in 1902, his firm announced profits equivalent to today’s $6,849,038. In 1907, Barnes had become a millionaire at the age of 35. In July 1929, he sold his business for a reported sum of $6 million – just before the crash at Wall Street.

    His wife, Laura Barnes developed an Arboretum for the firm and founded the Arboretum School in 1940; up to know it has been working in association with Harvard University College. He himself changed the organization of labour in his own pharmaceutical firm : employees have to collaborate, and choose their own schedule; there are educational pauses for the whole staff, and seminars with invited lecturers.

    He started collecting art in 1910. He actually met Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, Modigliani, de Chirico, Soutine. His collection includes 69 Cézannes 178 Renoirs. He also bought works by Rousseau (le Douanier -), Georges Seurat, Edgar Degas, and Vincent van Gogh.

    In 1925, he created an educational institution, the Barnes Foundation, in Lower Merion (Pa), based on his private collection of art-works displayed according to his own aesthetic choices, drastically restricting the number of visitors to favour students. These theories were drawn from the ideas of William James, George Santayana, and John Dewey—about how people looked at and learned from art. The goal of the Barnes Foundation was for the purpose of "promot[ing] the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts." In Spring 1923, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts had exhibited 75 pieces of Barnes’ collection (Soutine, Modigliani, Matisse, Picasso etc.). The event had been strongly criticized by the press. From then on, Barnes started a dislike for museums and casual art-viewers.



    In Democracy and Education (1916), John Dewey insisted that developing cognitive skills is education better than memorizing facts. So in front of artworks, you do not need to know anything apart from the painting or statue you have to understand. So works are shown without labels or chronology : they are simply arranged on the wall, and the students are sensitive enough to connect the styles, periods, and research of the artists in the collection. Comments would be verbose and useless in terms of revealing the meaning of the works displayed.  

    Thanks to his mother’s involvement in active Methodist charities, Barnes got to know African-Americans at a very early age. Later he was extremely interested in the “Harlem Renaissance” (expressing his admiration of "black soul" in "Negro Art and America", an essay, 1925)


    Thank you very much, Tatiana, for the very informative paper you presented at our Dewey symposium : Tatiana LEVY (Ec. Sup. d’Art, ENSA Bourges): “A.C. Barnes, J. Dewey. Que transmet le collectionneur aujourd’hui ? ». See also :




    your comment
  • I hear very strange things over here about the meaning of presidential candidates' and the winner's surnames. Remember "trump", whether a name or a surname, has nothing to do with the French "trompe". So, let's make a clear list:

    - a trump is "un atout", in a game of cards ("a trump card"); the word has become a verb (to trump = couper), so that "she'll trump them all" could be translated into "elle les surpassera tous". Note that today it sounds more correct in the masculine. In American slang, it is also an unwanted sound (French, "un pet / péter")

    - Clinton in standard English is either a place name or a family name. In U.S. American slang it refers to an improper behaviour with women. Johnson, McMullin, are also family names (Gary Johnson, Evan McMullin); In Irish Gaelic, mullain means "downs (collines)", in Scottish Gaelic  it refers to a stack ("meule", "empilement" )

    - stein (Jill Stein), is originally a German word; in Britain it corresponds to a beer mug ("une chope (de bière)".

    - sanders are tools used in woodwork (French "ponceuses")

    - castle (Darrell Castle) is of course "un château".

    By the way, "une trompe (d'éléphant)" is a trunk -- a word which also translates into "tronc / malle / maillot de bain"; une défense (d'éléphant)" is a tusk (also the name of the Polish prime minister, Donald Tusk ..)

    Last but not least : first names do not always suit the person like, for President Trump, Pluto would have been better than Donald. Indeed "Pluto" in US.American slang is somebody who's been fast promoted at work, but has soon been demoted (Fr.: rétrogradé) because he's not up to the standard of his new job, (like the planet, Pluto - not a planet any more !)



    1 comment




    your comment