Thursday, July 03, 2008

Rainy day sur le quai

Spent most of the day commuting from campus to campus and then working at Lyon-2...all because of a rainy day that started off decorating my window this morning:


And now back to the list!

9. The Smart Car. Who can come from a country populated by gas-guzzlin' SUVs and fat-tire monster trucks without marveling at a car that you can park perpendicular to the road? In Lyon there seems to be a contest among businesses for most outrageous design too...



















10. Sides. One of the first words I learned when I came to Lyon was the "quai" as in "j'aime faire du velo sur le quai," I like biking along the riverside. The translations listed on my favorite online dictionary (sorry, internet, paper's better) for this word are "dockside", "bank", "wharf", "embankment" etc. I'm not sure if any of them cover it. Given that two rivers, the Saone and the Rhône, pass through Lyon (or rather, the city was built around them), the quai and the bridges that traverse them form a defining aspect of the human geography here. You can follow the quai, run into the quai, have a nice apartment by the quai, and, yes, as of a few years ago, even rollerblade several miles up and down the quai.

This might be deserving of its own entry but I started out talking about "sides" because I was also thinking about the phrase "à côte de" (to the side of). This expression has popped up again and again recently, probably because it’s short and I’ve started to recognize it, but I’ve been wondering if the expression “on the side of” might occupy some semantic space that’s taken up in a different way in English (ode to Saussure and the concept of “value” here). In the project I’m working on, with Berkeley students videoconferencing with tutors in Lyon, it’s probably typical in both languages to specify which group you’re talking about with expressions like, “on the Berkeley side” and “on the Lyon side”, or “à côte Berkeley” and “à côte Lyon”. So far so good. But today in the office a student who I met for the first time, and who knows about the project, was asking me if I do research about the students or the tutors, and he asked if my focus was “à côte apprenant ou à côte tuteur” (on the learners’ or tutors’ side). I guess this expression would be possible in English but it struck me that I’d probably try to express this two-way choice by saying something like “à propos des tuteurs ou des apprenants” (about the tutors or the learners) in my infant interlanguage....

Are “sides” used more commonly in French?

2 comments:

Sandrine said...

Hi Dave. I have seen several smart cars in Boston recently (and yes, it was not always the same one.) They are slowing invading the US...

daveski said...

Hi! Yeah, I've seen a few too but I heard that they jacked up the price and decreased the fuel efficiency to make them 'suitable' for the American roads... :)

Have you seen any with cool designs in Boston? Maybe it's just me, but it seems like there are a lot of businesses advertising on these cars in ways that are much more 'showy' than on other kinds of cars. Or maybe I just like 'em?