A pleasant conversation in the Colorado late-winter sun

I just had a pleasant conversation in the Colorado late-winter sun with a nice lady from one of our labs. Here are some words that came up:

  • le/la neurologue: neurologist.
  • la vessie: bladder.  Note that it’s pronounced [vesi].
  • la douane: usually this means customs, but my friend used it to mean “border,” as in la douane Américaine–her husband comes from a place near it in Canada.
  • à grande échelle: large-scale.
  • le dossier médical: health record.
  • le moine: monk.
  • avec eux: with them.  It’s really frustrating that for all of my vocabulary development, I still struggle with things like how to use object pronouns correctly.


The Bardo Museum in Tunis, site of yesterday's terrorist attack
The Bardo Museum in Tunis, site of yesterday’s terrorist attack

It makes my heart ache that once again, I am writing about words that I learnt because of a terrorist attack.  I am reminded of something that Katherine Rich wrote about studying Hindi in India just after the 9/11 attacks (in her beautiful book Dreaming In Hindi):

“We know how to say ‘terrorists killed the man.’ We don’t know the word for ‘side table.'”

Yesterday was the terrorist attack on the museum in Tunisia.  Today I woke up to this headline on my phone:

Vague d’interpellations après l’attaque du musée du Bardo à Tunis

If you know that the Bardo is the museum in question, then you’re probably comfortable with all of this but the word interpellation. 

This word has a number of meanings in English, which you can find here.  (I think there’s an additional meaning in anatomy, where I believe it has to do with something being interleaved with something else, as in interpellated disc, but I actually haven’t been able to find any evidence that I’m not imagining that.)

In French, there are also a number of meanings, mostly related to hostile interchanges.  Let’s start with the verbs:

  • interpeller:
    • (of the police) to take in for questioning
    • (in politics) to interpellate (see English definitions above), to question
    • (= appeler) to call out to
    • (= apostropher) to shout at
  • s’interpeller (reciprocal reflexive): to shout at each other

Now, the noun:

  • (la) interpellation:
    • (by the police) questioning
    • (politics) interpellation, questioning


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