Intermediate french fashion slang: Vogue France

Language is different in real life than it is in literature, so part of my intermediate French reading practice is following blogs and magazines. A surprisingly deep source of weirdness that I have become very fond of is Vogue France.

My first thought about high fashion is usually that it is toxic– misogynist and body-fascist– but to its credit, it is also very strange. A way to get most of the weirdness and a minimum of the poison is to follow the RSS feed. It contains very few and very tiny photos, and a seemingly random selection of their incredible headlines.

What is amazing about Vogue France headlines? They are clearly written in French, but they contain hardly any French words. This is mind-melting and I feel certain that learning how to make French phrases out of English slang is improving my grasp of French grammar.

A recent example:

Tendance dad shoes : 13 sneakers normcore ultra mode

You get to learn French words for “trend” and “fashion”, but after that it is only the word order that distinguishes this from the English equivalent, “Dad shoes trend: 13 ultra fashionable normcore sneakers”.

Pin collection for April

Some favourite things I pinned over the past few weeks.

On the communication value of ums and uhs

Counter to what Toastmasters would have you believe, we seem to use more “disfluencies” like um when we know what we’re talking about, and saying “um” helps listeners understand us better. I am used to watching for and celebrating the ways that real life is messier than idealized definitions when it comes to things like body diversity, relationships, even economics. I am delighted that spoken language is messy too!

Your Speech Is Packed With Misunderstood, Unconscious Messages (Nautilus)

Deafness on film

Beware the spoiler for A Quiet Place, but I learned a lot from this article about historical and contemporary representation of deafness and Deaf culture in movies. It includes some thoughtful criticisms of The Shape of Water, and introduced me to the term Deaf gain as a positive counter to the concept of hearing loss.

Quiet Places (LA Review of Books)

The Volcano is back!

So exciting to see The Volcano back in action! They even have a podcast up. I read several great articles over there this month, and bookmarked some more for later. Here is one that stuck out to me, for seeing through the healthcare rhetoric around government responses to the overdose crisis in BC.

Back to the War on Drugs – Canada’s Public Health/Public Safety response to the Fentanyl Overdose Crisis (The Volcano)

What if Black Panther had been created by an African?

This reads like an undergraduate assignment, but I enjoyed this comparison of Black Panther to Kwezi, a more recent superhero created by black South African visual artist Loyiso Mkize. The rest of the site is worth exploring too, if you are interested in African speculative fiction.

From Kwezi to The Black Panther: The Progressive Politics of the Black Superhero in Comics (Omenana)

Long profile of what is scary about Palantir

Even Google has noticed that I “show interest” in aspiring vampire Peter Thiel and his company Palantir. Palantir somehow keeps a lower profile than other giant tech companies and I haven’t seen them mentioned in much reporting about the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica story, despite being involved on both sides of the data breach.

This profile provides rare descriptions of what Palantir’s surveillance software actually looks like and what it does, as well as who their clients are (dictators, cops, and maybe your boss) and how real communities have been affected.

Palantir Knows Everything About You (Bloomberg)

Fun excerpt from Fabulous: The Rise of the Beautiful Eccentric

Making the case that fashion-haters are the ones who are really obsessed with superficial appearances.

I have a pair of spiked wedge shoes that are always a conversation piece when I wear them out. They are my favorite thing, and I would be totally depressed if I lost them somehow. Whenever people see them in my room they always ask to try them on. Everyone does this—male, female, heterosexual, gay. They try them on for the fun of it and they love the feeling the shoes give them. But then they say: “I could never wear those,” a phrase we have all used to describe an item of clothing that makes us uncomfortable or that we don’t see ourselves in because it goes against the image we have already constructed for ourselves. But who actually says we can’t wear it?

The power of appearance, that’s “who.”

Fashion naysayers are often people who are “uncomfortable with taking full responsibility for their own looks,” Anne Hollander tells us, “who either fear the purely visual demands of social life—‘appearance’ or ‘appearances’—or don’t trust the operation of their own taste,” which means in the end that they “feel threatened and manipulated by fashion.” Negative theories of appearance emerge out of a nervousness and anxiety about one’s own way of looking, which coincidentally works to reinforce the power of appearance.

Why Is Caring About Fashion Considered Unserious? (Literary Hub)

Mushrooms make their own weather

Because of course they do. Never bet against a fungus!

Everybody Talks About the Weather But Mushrooms Do Something About It. (Small Things Considered)

Intermediate queer arab-french YA: L’armée du salut

People seem to love this book but myself I found it dull. A book involving incestuous crushes and public sex– dull! Clearly your experience may vary.

On the plus side, this novella is under 150 pages, a story about a gay muslim protagonist with a happy (enough) ending, and a good way to learn some sex slang and a bit about life in Morocco in the 1990s. My favourite parts were the discussions about speaking French versus other languages, and where all the multilingual characters learned French. Morocco, Switzerland, etc. Finding francophone authors is a fast way to learn some geography and history– which regions have French-speakers and why?