Things to worry about in France

Parents everywhere need to be up in arms about how the younger generation is ruining their lives, right?  In France, the current concern about the youth going to hell centers around the Facebook meme à l’eau ou au resto, which translates as “in the water or to the restaurant”–in French, it rhymes.  The way it works: if you get tagged with this on Facebook, you either have to jump into a body of water or take your friends out to a restaurant.  There are all sorts of stories about teenagers being severely injured by taking the jump-into-a-body-of-water option.

In real life, i.e. outside of social media, the current concern in the newspapers is about the chikungunya virus.  Zipf’s Law applies to discussions of chikungunya as much as to anything else–here’s a little sample from the WHO web site (French version):

  • le moustique: mosquito.  Pretty transparent, but I thought it was cute the way the t and the q are in different places.  This word can also mean a very small person.
  • la flambée: blaze, outburst, sudden rise.
  • entraîner: I knew this word in the sense of to train, but it can also mean to bring about or to lead to: Cette maladie a quelques signes cliniques en commun avec la dengue, ce qui peut entraîner un diagnostic erroné dans des zones où la dengue est commune. ( Depuis 2004, le chikungunya sévit sur le mode épidémique, entraînant une morbidité et des souffrances considérables. (same source)
  • sévir: crack down, clamp down, take action; slog on, toil away, toil on; and the sense in which it is meant in the preceding example–to hit, strike.
  • la souffrance: pain, suffering; if plural, “throes” (as of agony).  See preceding example.
  • le remède: remedy, solution.  Il n’existe pas de remède contre cette maladie. Le traitement est essentiellement symptomatique. (same source)


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