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Se tromper (Wednesday, 2011 April 13)

April 13th, 2011

One thing I utterly love in French is the verb se tromper, "to make a mistake", but literally "to fool oneself". Be careful because tremper, "to soak", sounds almost exactly the same. Mnemonic: "trompe l’oeil", which we adopted into English, means "fool the eye", or idiomatically "optical illusion". It’s dangerous to argue from etymology, of course, but I love the sound of it, "fooling yourself", so much more willful than the English equivalent. I love the careful way Brondon sometimes finishes a thought with "si je ne me trompe pas","if I’m not fooling myself", "if I’m not mistaken".

There is a student named Annick, a young lady with the same kind of twitchy tic and the same quiet, muttering-to-herself cadence that my first boss did. She invited me to see a local museum, but I was still on spring break and couldn’t make it. It’s hard to navigate these situations; does she just want me to appreciate her culture? money? marriage? Today she cornered me in the lab, and after haltingly discussing it for a while in French (I will go some Sunday), she saw me lend my USB key to Parfait, having loaded it with software (including some games).

Annick: You are really kind.

Me: [Soft, sad smile.]

Annick: Unless I am making a mistake.

Me: Yes. You are fooling yourself. [Exit stage right.]

OK, better get back to grading tests. Only five classes left! Sigh.


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