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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.”

An Idiom Abroad

by Joyce McGreevy on January 3, 2017

The statue of the Duke of Wellington in Glasgow shows that Scotland's fashions go beyond the wordplay of clothing idioms. (Image © Joyce McGreevy)

Trafficking in high fashion, Glasgow style. 
The Duke of Wellington monument at the Gallery of Modern Art.
© Joyce McGreevy

A Wordplay Stitch in Time

Sew, a funny thing happened on the way to a textile exhibition. One morning in Glasgow, I stopped at a café to write. The assignment: draft a column  about the wordplay of clothing idioms.

I’m no smarty pants, but I hoped to leave readers in stitches so I put on my thinking cap, booted up my laptop, and buckled down to work.  As cellphone users aired their dirty linen in public, I felt hampered and wished they would put a sock in it.

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