The mid-semester break is about to start here at Stirling and, next week, some of our students will be in Glasgow, watching the recording of a new French-language quiz show. I hope to be able to post tales of the recording after the break but, in the meantime, I wanted to add an account of a trip undertaken by a group of our students with our Language Assistant, Brigitte Depret, at the end of last year. With thanks to Brigitte for sending this, and to Nadine Wall (one of the students) for the photo!
“In December 2014 some of the first and second year students studying French were given the chance to take part in a day out in beautiful Edinburgh, courtesy of French at Stirling who had offered free tickets to go and see a movie during the annual French Film Festival.
We went to the Dominion Cinema, one of the oldest in Edinburgh, first opened in January 1938. If you ever want to go and watch a film somewhere that you really feel at home, this is definitely the place to go. With its comfortable individual sofas, footstools and side tables, the students fully enjoyed the cosiness of the venue where we were offered wine and food tasting from Provence, prior to the screening. Indeed, it was all about Provence!
I will not dwell on too much on the film we saw on that day: Our Summer in Provence (2014). Sadly, the latter was not the perfect example of the French grand cinéma, rather, a family-friendly entertainment that swung in between drama and comedy. The plot was quite thin. Luckily, we had the beautiful sceneries of Provence to make up for too many low-grade shenanigans, and, of course, the subtitles for my students who were delighted to have grasped some of the ‘finest’ French expressions.
When watching the movie, I couldn’t help but thinking I had spent almost two decades near the very place where the film was shot. The smell of Provence, the heat of the summer, the markets, the cicadas… but also I thought about some words (even if now some came up distorted), Provence gave to the English language (one of our many gifts that contributed to the rising of the English language as the Lingua Franca).
Did you know the word amour used in middle English and found now in the expression amour propre, comes from Old Provençal? And speaking about amour could you imagine a cavalier back from a croisade (crusade) who would sing a ballade (ballad) for you.? Then he would invite you to a picnic, offering you a salade (salad) seasoned with a nois muguede (nutmeg) to spice up your al fresco lunch. Oh, and why not add a delicate truffe (truffle) whilst we are at it? Wouldn’t you like too, the taste of a juicy figue (fig), sitting in the shade sheltered from the sun and finish up with a fine nougat?
Moving on in time you could even imagine listening to a fidgeting Harlequin or a troubadour singing some sonnet especially for you. How nice!
And in our modern era you may enjoy being whisked away in a limousine sitting next to a French man wearing a beret, telling you stories or could it be a clever charade? He would stop at a boutique and buy you an expensive parfum (perfume) and why not a ring? In his beautiful lingo (lingua), he would propose and you would say OUI!
And then on your way to your honey moon, the lovely cabine (cabin) on the boat will feel like the sweetest cocon (cocoon) ever. There, in a foreign land you will buy a mascotte (mascot) that will become your precious beloved good-luck charm.
The lingo (lingua) apparently lived happily ever after…”