Robert Doisneau’s famous photograph “The kiss by the Hôtel de Ville.” It was staged–as Doisneau said, “I would have never dared to photograph people like that. Lovers kissing in the street, those couples are rarely legitimate.” Picture and quote source: https://iconicphotos.wordpress.com/2009/05/08/le-baiser-de-lhotel-de-ville/.

While doing my shopping today, I saw a couple kissing on the street. Despite Paris’s reputation as the most romantic city in the world, this is unusual—kissing in public isn’t really a thing here. Debra Olivier explains in her book What French women know: About love, sex, and other matters of the heart and mind that there’s actually only a limited window of time in a relationship in which it’s really OK to kiss in public in France. Before you start sleeping together you don’t know each other well enough, and after you start sleeping together it’s thought of as an ostentatious show of the fact that you’re in a relationship, so you only get that small period of time in between to lock lips in public. The couple looked to be in their 40s, so it’s likely that either they were in that little window, or they were American.

As I said, I ran into the young lovers while doing my shopping, and I never do my shopping without running into Zipf’s Law. Here are the words that I learnt in the process of picking up groceries today. (Translations from WordReference.com.)

  • le céleri: Pronunciation: [sɛlʀi], despite the accent aigu. I checked it in two places.
    • le pied de célerie: bunch of celery. (Literally, it’s “a foot of celery.”)
    • la branche de céleri: celery stick.
  • la betterave: beet.

If you’re French and you don’t get the title: “PDA” is “public display of affection.” It has its very own abbreviation because it’s forbidden in certain contexts—students in some high schools, members of the military in uniform, stuff like that.

One thought on “PDA”

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