Friday, July 11, 2008

lEft anD rIgHt

I've been in Nice the last few days with a friend from the GSE in Berkeley. Hoping to get out and take some pictures before going back up to Lyon tonight...

14. Left and right. There are a million ways left and right can be organized in any place you go, I guess. Lately I've been marveling at how cars drive on the right-hand side of the road, but trains, metros, etc. go on the left. Unless, of course you're talking about a tramway, which I assume has to go with car traffic and run on the right. Wouldn't it be interesting if it were the other way around? Walking is another story--like in Korea, where cars drive on the right but people tend to walk on the left. Here I think the general protocol is for people to walk on the right but I've been running into people on both sides...any insight out there? :)

15. Door handles. From the sort of mundane to the really mundane. I just can't figure out why door handles on apartment doors, when there are door handles at all, are positioned in the middle of the door instead of near where the key goes in. This means of course that you have to pull harder on heavier doors and you - or I at least - end up slamming doors a lot of the time when I'm closing them. What up?

16. Eyes, the gaze. This deserves more space and I'll write about it more later, but just wanted to get it down while I'm thinking about it. Students at Berkeley mentioned it in the context of videoconference interactions - the experience of looking at and being looked at in another language. Eyes have appeared in photographic and comic-style representation in several magazines, newspaper ads, etc. that I've seen while I'm here (hopefully will post some later). And eyes in French -- why does that have to be the hardest word for me to pronounce?

17. cApiTalIzatiOn. This is something that I've been wondering since last time I was here, in March. A lot of the time in the casual emails I've seen, people have capitalized at odd places in the word, and I've been wondering: what's going on? Are there times to do this, people who do it, is it just having fun, does the CAPS LOCK key get stuck on a lot of French computers (ok bad joke), is it just vowels that get capitalized, are you supposed to spell out separate words by looking at the caps, etc. etc. etc. Separately, I have noticed that a lot of people do capitalize their last names when writing them - this seems to be a convention for distinguishing between the nom and prenom. Do they get confused sometimes or is this just for ease of identification overall?

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