Sunday, September 23, 2012

Why French is better than English

French is a very... interesting language.
Its rules for adjectives are all over the place (some even mean one thing when put before the noun and another when put after it); their term for 'bra', when translated literally, means 'neck-brace'; and while 'grapefruit' is certainly not the most educated word for something that resembles a very large orange, is calling it a 'pamplemousse' making things any better? Oh, and while I'm on the subject, how is 'babyfoot' any better than 'foosball'?
And yet, for all its quirks and faults, I would far rather make casual conversation in French than in English.

For one thing, there's the issue of 'pants' or 'jeans'. We pluralize them because there are two legs, and say things like 'a pair of jeans'. This leads to awkward situations where one tries to communicate jean plurality, and must say things like "I bought two pairs of jeans," since "I bought jeans" is rather ambiguous. Or, when put into a sentence, it seems awkward at best to pluralize 'jeans', but not any of the other words ("A two-year-old tried to use my jeans as a hankie").
The French have it figured out. Their reasoning is that it is, after all, one item of clothing, and they sensibly leave it at that. While the hard 'J' of 'un jean' is rather at odds with the 'zh' sound other 'J's make, it is much easier to fit it into a sentence. "J'achete un jean," meaning "I purchased a jean," is much clearer than "I bought jeans."

Another issue that French handles much better than English is its use of multiple terms for the concept of love. For us, 'love' is the only word we have - and, in today's culture, it has been cheapened to a horrifying degree. One uses the same word to express a fondness for cheese danishes, or to confess a deep and abiding affection for another human being! How can that make any kind of sense?
In French, though, you have different kinds of love. 'Aimer' means to love a person or to like an object. So far, quite similar to English's 'love'. 'Adorer' means to love to do something or to adore a person, which also comes pretty close to our word. But after that, French goes deeper. They have 'aimer bien', to like someone, 'aimer beaucoup', to like someone a lot, 'aimer fort', to love someone a lot, 'aimer tres fort', to love someone very much, and 'aimer enormement', to love someone enormously.
French isn't the language of love because it sounds really pretty - it's the language of love because it keeps a love of a person separate from a love of cheese danishes.

And so, because of 'un jean' and all of the 'aimer's, I must regretfully admit that French is a language far superior to English.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go move to Canada, eh?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I have a love-hate relationship with my toaster oven

My toaster oven is a thing of beauty.
Most of the time.
Actually, come to think of it, it's not that pretty on the outside. It's old and crusty and rusty and the front window is covered in some kind of grease. But it has a good heart. I think.
You see, the two of us get along quite well, for the most part. It heats things up beautifully! It's easy to control, and doesn't require any time at all to preheat. I can roast hot dogs in it without needing a grill, cook fish sticks without firing up the stupid oven (which is like "I need at least half an hour before I can even start cooking, missy!"), toast bagels with ease... Pretty much anything you can name.
Unfortunately, it isn't always benign.
I think it might have all started when I accidentally set it on fire.
"How do you 'accidentally' set something on fire, Miss Monday? That sounds pretty intentional to me!"
All right, smarty, I'll tell you.
See, when I was younger, I would toast bagels in it with a paper towel under them. I don't know why I thought this was a good idea, or even necessary. Anyway, most of the time it worked okay... Then, late at night, as I opened it and reached for my delicious bagels...
The paper towel caught fire.
I shrieked and ran around some and had enough sense to douse the flames with a glass of water, but my bagels were ruined. It was very sad. The toaster oven was okay, but I don't think it ever forgave me for setting its mouth on fire.

A toaster oven is a subtle appliance. It gets its revenge in ways that are not easy to recognize as malicious. For example, I will occasionally assemble a tasty row of frozen fish sticks inside and turn it on, then wander off for about ten minutes, waiting for when I have to turn them over. Upon my return, I find them still frozen, and realize that the toaster oven has somehow unplugged itself!
This probably has nothing to do with the certain someone living in the household that considers the toaster oven dangerous and likely to explode if left plugged in. No, it is clearly a plot on the part of the toaster oven to delay my dinner!
Sometimes, though, it lets them be cooked. This is only a ploy to trick me into being harmed, rather than just inconvenienced. You see, there is a strange little metal slat just inside the door, right at the top. It is positioned in such a way that if someone jerks their hand back suddenly (say, when their fingertips are scorched by the tinfoil), they will come in contact with a superheated mass of metal. This makes every attempt to retrieve or turn food incredibly perilous. Why, the other day, I burned, actually burned my pinkie finger! In two separate spots! There was sickening white skin over worrying red and everything... It hurt like the dickens, too!
Fortunately, the day was saved by a magical burn lotion left over from a long-ago visit to the beach. It turns out that it works just as well on regular burns as it does on sunburns.
Foiled again, toaster oven!