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Tag: French

Elephant in the mushroom

Friday, 21 September, 2018

The French creative agency Les Creatonautes has spent a lot of time and energy this year producing a series of digital collages that combine animals and edibles. The project is a statement that our world is constantly evolving, but the changes are often invisible and, in the near future, they might be disturbing. How will we react when CRISPR and organisms and technologies and societies interact?

Elephant-mushroom

Les Creatonautes started the project on 1 January and have been publishing these “transformations” ever day since. Check out their Instagram.


The map is not the language

Tuesday, 21 November, 2017 0 Comments

In this particular case, Fummy, the mapmaker, says: “The map is not most difficult language for an English speaker to learn in Europe. Just most difficult language for an English speaker to learn (Europe) its a zoomed in section of a larger map that I didn’t have the time to make.”

Note: The Foreign Service Institute is the United States government’s primary training institution for employees of the foreign affairs community.

FSI

The MapPorn discussion of Fummy’s map on reddit is entertaining, informative and, at times, very reddit:

Cabes86: “Dude I’ve been doing a mixture of Rosetta Stone and DuoLingo since May in Brazilian Portuguese and I’m basically done with both. All you need to do is about 10-20 minutes a day”

TerrMys: “I actually found French grammar a bit less challenging than Italian and especially Spanish, at least when you get to more advanced levels. The fact that French uses the subjunctive much more sparingly is one big reason why. In spoken French, all of the homophonic verb forms lessen the cognitive burden somewhat too IMO. The most challenging aspects of French compared to the other Romance languages I think are 1) the larger phonetic inventory and 2) the much more complex relationship between spelling and pronunciation. That said, compared to English, French orthography is incredibly regular. Just takes a little while to learn.”

meusnomenestiesus: “Oy mate no a feckin’ shade o’ Gaelic, Scots, nor Welsh they some sorta language ain’t no one can learn eh? Edit: nor Breton nor Basque, eh? Bollocks”


École 42 may be the answer

Wednesday, 11 October, 2017 0 Comments

At 8:42 every morning, students at École 42 on the Boulevard Bessières in Paris get their digital projects. They have 48 hours to complete them, so they are always under pressure, as in real life. École 42, takes its name from the “answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything” in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. The answer, by the way, is 42.

The school is the creation of Xavier Niel, a French billionaire who has so far spent about €48 million on the Paris campus and an additional $46 million on a twin school in Fremont, in San Francisco’s Bay Area. Niel made his fortune with Free, the second-largest internet service provider in France, and in 2013 he declared that the country’s education system was not working so he set out to fix the software engineering, coding and programming part of it.

Incidentally, no degrees or special skills are required to apply to attend École 42, and those who are accepted attend for free for three to five years. According to Niel, around 80 percent of students get jobs before they finish the course and 100 percent are employed by the end. Clearly, if it’s broke, Xavier Niel is the man to fix it.

42


Curaçao dushi

Saturday, 15 August, 2015 0 Comments

The Dutch Caribbean country of Curaçao is famed for beaches, coral reefs, pastel-coloured colonial architecture and a liqueur flavoured with the dried peel of the laraha fruit (Citrus aurantium currassuviencis), grown on the island. The culture is a mix of Arawak, Dutch, Portuguese, French, Spanish, West Indian and African influences.

The locals speak Papiamentu (Papiamento), a Creole language based on Portuguese, Dutch, Spanish and several African dialects. It’s very much a spoken language, not a written one, hence the spelling variants. Essential phrases: Con ta bay? (“How are you?”), Mi ta bon, mi dushi (“I am well, my love.”) That word, dushi, has lots of meanings, most of which centre on sweet, nice or good. It’s the word Ken Wolff, once of Aruba and now of Amsterdam, picked for the title of this clip.


Follow the bouncing ball

Saturday, 7 June, 2014 0 Comments

The World Cup kicks off next week so now’s the time to get into the mood. We’re getting an assist today from Guillaume Blanchet, a French filmmaker based in Montreal.


Camus discovers the sweet side of social networking

Friday, 8 November, 2013 0 Comments

The great Algerian-French writer Albert Camus, whose 100th birthday was celebrated yesterday, wasn’t a typical diarist, but he jotted down enough daily impressions to produce three published collections. Camus, by the way, never felt comfortable with the Parisian intelligentsia. He once called La Nouvelle Revue Française, a “curious milieu” whose function “is to create writers” but where, however, “they lose the joy of writing and creating.”

8 November 1937: “In the local cinema, you can buy mint flavoured lozenges with the words: ‘Will you marry me one day?’, ‘Do you love me?’, written on them, together with the replies: ‘This evening’, ‘A lot,’ etc. You pass them to the girl next to you, who replies in the same way. Lives become linked together by an exchange of mint lozenges.” Albert Camus

Hearts


On the uses of drones

Friday, 6 September, 2013 0 Comments

According to the Reuters news agency, a suspected US drone killed at least six terrorists in Pakistan’s Pashtun tribal region on the Afghan border. Hardly any fair-minded person would think that this is unjust, given the crimes committed by the region’s gangsters, yet there is considerable opposition to drone warfare. The United Nations has condemned US drone strikes in Pakistan, saying that they violate the country’s sovereignty. The UN, of course, ignores the fact that the Pashtun region is an infamous sanctuary for Taliban and al-Qaeda thugs. Heard of Waziristan? “These proud and independent people have been self-governing for generations, and have a rich tribal history that has been too little understood in the West,” said a person called Bill Emmerson, who bears the ludicrous title of “UN special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism”. Inevitably, not a word was heard from Bill Emmerson about the Taliban murdering Indian writer Sushmita Banerjee in southeastern Afghanistan earlier this week.

But back to drones. The really cool thing about this clip is that it was filmed by a drone, in one continuous shot, flying around the French band, Phoenix. Founded in Versailles, the group consists of Thomas Mars, Deck d’Arcy, Christian Mazzalai and Laurent Brancowitz. They became rich and famous in 2004 when their track “Too Young” was featured on the soundtrack of Lost in Translation, which was directed by Sofia Coppola. A romantic after-effect saw the same Sofia Coppola marry Thomas Mars in 2011 at her family’s villa at Bernalda in the Southern Italian region of Basilicata. By the way, Phoenix will co-headline the Austin City Limits Music Festival next month, alongside the Kings of Leon, Wilco and Depeche Mode.


Vertical élan

Monday, 29 April, 2013 0 Comments

Surely, every possible angle of the Hong Kong skyline has been captured by now. Not quite. French photographer Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze adds a new perspective by pointing his camera heavenwards and capturing the dizziness inducing vistas of a city he describes as a “race to the sky”.

Hong Kong


“We too want to learn Internet” under a mango tree

Thursday, 12 July, 2012

In mid-May, Boukary Konaté from Mali, who writes the excellent Fasokan blog in Bambara and French, visited the village of Sékoro, where he conducted an “introduction to the Internet” course for local schoolchildren under a mango tree. Google Translate: “This two-hour session was an opportunity for young students to a computer running, plug the USB 3G internet, and go turn a page on Google and do searches.”

The internet on a bike

Language note: The Bambara language is spoken in Mali, Burkina Faso and Senegal by some six million people. Given the colonial history of the region, Bambara uses many French loan words. For example, the Bambara term for snow is niegei, based on the French word for snow neige. As there has never been snow in Mali, the Bambara language has no unique word in to describe it.