A few strange words or expressions using X, Y or Z
Rayons X = X rays. Film X/classé X = X rated movie. L’X = often used to designate the Ecole polytechnique (prestigious polytechnic engineering school). Après avoir fait l’X, il s’est incrit à l’ENA (Ecole nationale d’Administration).Un(e) X = a student at the Ecole polytechnique. X ou Y = Whatever. Pour une raison X ou Y il a changé d’avis. X fois = many times. Je te l’ai répété x fois et tu ne t’en souviens toujours pas ! Accoucher sous X = to give birth in total anonymity, so that the child will not know who his/her parents are. Porter plainte contre X = to lay charges against anybody who might be responsible. Youpi/youpie = yuppie. Yéyé/yé-yé = designates a pop singer or teenage fan in the 1950s. Les années 1950, c’était la période yéyé. Yoyo/yo-yo = yo-yo. Often used in a figurative sense, particularly about losing or gaining weight. J’en ai marre de faire du yoyo, j’ai déjà repris 5 kg ! One also says that the price of oil plays yo-yo, etc. Zapper = to skip quickly from one TV channel to another without taking the time to see a full programme. Zèbre = literally zebra, but also means a “guy” in a slightly pejorative sense. C’est un drôle de zèbre, ce mec, tu sais qu’il a encore changé de métier ? Zigoto = another word to designate the same type of man. A bit outdated nowadays. Zozo = a man who is a bit stupid. Still used by adults but a bit outdated. Quel zozo celui-là !
Zen = cool, relaxed. Very commonly used without any particular link to any Buddhism practice. Moi je reste très zen quand mon mari s’énerve ! Tes zigs = that guy. Regarde-le, il est dingue de sa voiture, tes zigs ! Zigzag/zigzaguer = same as zigzag in English. Zinc = café or bistrot (the countertops in such establishments used to be covered with zinc). Used more in Paris than in other parts of France, and has become a bit outdated today, but several restaurants now bear the name of Petit zinc. Zip = common word for zipper (the real word being fermeture éclair). Zipper = to zip up. Zizanie = dissension in a group. S’il vient ce soir, il va encore semer la zizanie ! Zizi = male sexual organ/dick. Became popular after a song by French singer Pierre Perret: Le zizi. Zone = a part of a city; often used to designate the part of the city which is the most destitute, the territory of people who aren’t very recommendable. Ne va pas là-bas, c’est la zone ! Zoner = to wander or roam about with no specific goal or purpose. Zonard = young person living on the fringes of society, un marginal. Zut = damn. Oh zut, ils ne passent plus le film que je voulais voir ! (Oh damn, the film I wanted to see isn’t playing anymore!)
Several official French abbreviations, used to designate administrative subdivisions, start with Z: ZAC (zone d’aménagement concerté) = housing zone designed according to a concerted agreement. ZEP (zone d’éducation prioritaire) = priority education zone. ZUP (zone à urbaniser en priorité) = priority housing zone (usually low-income housing).
Roger Stevenson French Accent Magazine - April-May 08
Deux dictées aux choix
We provide two dictées to chose according to your level in French:
one for beginners, and another one for intermediate level French .
Click on the link below to listen to each of them. Then try and write it without making any mistakes. You can compare it to the original text on page 36 of the magazine.
N.B.: It would be a good idea to read all the articles of this issue of French Accent before doing the dictation, as you will recognize many expressions.
Oiseau de fer qui dit le vent
Oiseau qui chante au jour levant
Oiseau bel oiseau querelleur
Oiseau plus fort que nos malheurs
Oiseau sur l’église et l’auvent
Oiseau de France comme avant
Oiseau de toutes les couleurs
Le nouveau crève-cœur, by Louis Aragon
Rooster Iron bird that signals the wind
Bird that crows at the dawning day
Beautiful quarrelsome bird
Bird stronger than our misfortune
Bird perched on church and rooftop
Bird of France of yesteryear
Bird of every colour
This poem by the famous French Surrealist Poet Aragon speaks of the rich and diverse symbolism of the rooster in France. First, le coq is the national emblem of France. The symbol existed already in the Middle Ages, but it became more well-defined during the Renaissance, and was strongly reinforced during the French Revolution. It is supposed to refer to the proud, obstinate, courageous and fertile peasant origins of France. Second, one can see the iron rooster above many church steeples, where it represents the Christian symbol of vigilance from the New Testament story of the Passion of Christ, and not to the national emblem. And, of course, the song also refers to the actual bird, noisy, quarrelsome, very colourful, and that you can hear very early in the morning in the French countryside.