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Travel Cultures Language

A Game of French Wordplay: Les Bons Mots

by Meredith Mullins on November 20, 2017

A French bakery (boulangerie) with two women selling baguettes, illustrating baguettiquette, a form of French wordplay about the etiquette of eating baguettes. (Image © Meredith Mullins.)

Proper baguettiquette begins with the selection of the right baguette.
© Meredith Mullins

French Language Puns Offer Stories about the Culture

You can often step into French life through its language. Sometimes you can even invent new words to expand the boundaries of French language and culture. All it takes are some bilingual puns and a fun sense of French wordplay.

What word inventions come to your mind?

Observing Baguettiquette

What are the rules and traditions surrounding that oh-so-French symbol, the baguette?

Visual Wordplay for the Bilingual Brain

by Eva Boynton on November 14, 2017

A cartoon of a woman pulling a leg and hands grabbing her hair, showing how visual wordplay with Spanish and English proverbs tickles the bilingual brain. (image © Eva Boynton).

“Ouch! You’re pulling my leg!”
“¡Ay! ¡Me estás tomando el pelo!” (“Ouch! You’re grabbing my hair!”)
© drawing by Eva Boynton

Spanish and English Proverbs in Pictures

While living in Mexico, I heard phrases whose literal translations created odd visual images for me and confused my developing bilingual brain. For example: “Me estás tomando el pelo!” (You are grabbing my hair!”). My initial bewildered response? I checked to see if my hands were minding their business at my side.

With further explanation, I soon understood that such strange phrases were proverbios y refranes (proverbs and sayings), wise and colorful ways to make a point. In this case: “You are pulling my leg.”

“Blistering Blue Brussels, Tintin!”

by Joyce McGreevy on November 6, 2017

The Tintin mural in Brussels, Belgium showcases comic book art as a cultural tradition. (Image © Joyce McGreevy)

Hugely popular in Belgium, Tintin and friends race down a wall in Brussels’ Rue de l’Etuve.
© Joyce McGreevy

Where Comic Books Are
a Cultural Tradition

Remember watching Saturday morning cartoons and reading Sunday’s comic strips? Settling in to reread stockpiled comic books? And how your parents—those draconian disciplinarians—made you go outside to play?

In Brussels, you can have your comics and play outside, too. Just follow the Comic Book Route.

The Léonard mural by Turk in Brussels shows why comic books are a cultural tradition in Belgium. (Image © Joyce McGreevy)

Léonard, a zany caricature of da Vinci by cartoonist “Turk,”
paints Brussels’ Palais de Justice.
© Joyce McGreevy

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