Wednesday, April 7, 2010


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I have discovered a neat feature in MS Word. You can go to “Tools” and set the language in which you are writing. When I write in French, the “spell check” function works pretty well and catches the spelling errors, most of the missing or incorrect accents and, occasionally it suggests verb-tense changes or corrections when I use a masculine adjective with a feminine noun.

My computer has an American keyboard, so every time I need to insert a letter that has an accent, I either have to go to the ASCII codes or click on “Insert/Symbol” and then choose the correct one. French keyboards have all of the letters with accents but to accommodate them, they had to move a few things around so the layout is similar but different enough that it usually causes me to groan or curse or both.

French keyboards are similar to French word formations. Peoples’ faces appear very similar to American faces but when they start to say a word, they purse their lips as if they were getting ready to kiss. Whether it is “ooh la la!” or a stammering “euw,” the way they form words starts with a kiss. Americans seem to make words by starting with a smile and thus our words are broader.

I am getting better at predicting who are Americans even if I can’t hear their conversation but can see the lips making words… Of course, we Americans also LOOK different. I am happy to say that the distinction is becoming less noticeable, but I am still surprised at how often a vendor will speak to me in English even though I have not said a word or how I can guess the nationality of someone that I see on the street. – in truth, I can usually guess “French/not French,” but it is a start…

Spring is definitely in the air. When Phil and Margaret took Ellen and me to Avignon yesterday, you could see the fruit tree blossoms everywhere. The sky was bright and warm and we had lunch on the terrace of a little cafĂ© in Vacqueyras. An American that we met on Sunday said that we should definitely change our schedule and plan to be here in May and June. She said that those two months are like heaven. Maybe next spring…