Photo of the Week

ParisUpdate-JohnGoodmanforFrenchPresident

Humor on the hoardings spotted before the first round of the French elections: “John Goodman (Jean Gentilhomme) for President,” the candidate of the “Nice Peoples' Party. That would make a change. © Paris Update

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Paris Update What’s On

Links to events happening this week in Paris.

Silent films from Switzerland?

ParisUpdate-train300

> They’re rare, but they do exist and can be seen at the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé, Paris, through May 2.

Retail heaven
> You can buy just about anything at the century-old Foire de Paris, a gigantic pop-up store. Porte de Versailles, Paris. April 27-May 8.

Voices from the North
> The Pølar Festival celebrates Northern European culture with films, concerts, talks and more. Various locations, Paris, through April 29.

Photo walk
> Eight Paris galleries hold special photography shows and events for Parcours Fotofever. Various locations, Paris, through May 1.

Photo shows galore
> Le Mois de la Photo has been moved from autumn to spring, with 96 exhibitions taking place all over the greater Paris area. See Web site for locations and dates.

Art videos
> The theme of this year’s Videobox Festival is “noise and movement.” Carreau du Temple, Paris, April 27-29.

French film with English subtitles
> Lost in Frenchlation shows Nicolas Boukhrief’s La Confession, preceded by a themed cocktail party (€4.50). Studio 28, Paris, April 28.

Virtual reality
> Drop in on Saturday or Sunday from 2pm to 8pm for a free virtual trip at the VR Express festival. Forum des Images, Paris, through June 30.

Dance in historic sites
> Monuments en Mouvement offers free dance performances in national monuments like the Pantheon in Paris, the Abbaye de Cluny and châteaux. Various locations, through Oct. 21.

African culture festival
> The 100% Afriques festival showcases dance, theater, music, fashion, design, art, food and more from all over the continent. La Villette, Paris, through May 28.

 

Hot Topics - C'est ironique !

 

Weird English Shop Signs, Part 17: All-Parisian Edition

This Is Not
Just Any Boutique

ParisUpdate-CestIronique-Shops-Any boutique

I want a name that will make my shop stand out, a name that says, “There’s no other boutique like this one in all of Paris!” Oh! I’ve got it!

I love to make grandiose, pompous predictions. Especially if they can never be proven false within my lifetime. Here’s one: I predict that the English language will evolve nearly beyond recognition within 269 years.

I picked that number because it’s half the amount of time that has expired since Chaucer published “The Canterbury Tales” (1478) in the nearly foreign-looking language now called Middle English, and I figure that exponential progress in global communication will at least double the speed of future linguistic evolution.

For better or worse (worse, according to me), English is on its way to becoming the world’s common language. The fact that so many non-native speakers use it — not to mention the influence of textspeak, the disappearance of copy editors and the sad fact that people who say “nucular” are allowed to have children — will unavoidably lead to extensive changes. At the very least, spelling and grammar will no doubt be greatly simplified.

This isn’t a complaint. Language change is a natural and perpetual process, and any attempt to prevent it would be about as successful as trying to stop teenagers from finding porn on the Internet.

So by 2285, this web page and everything within clicking distance will be as quaint-looking and semi-intelligible as ”Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote” seems to us now.

Thus, faced with the inevitable demise of my native tongue as I know it, I see only one sensible course of action: to make fun of as many ill-advised English shop signs as I can before it’s too late.

As explained in previous installments of this recurring feature (part 16 contains a link to part 15, which contains a link to part 14, which contains a link to part 13, and if you wonder what part 13 contains you’re probably pronouncing “nuclear” wrong), a lot of French businesses pick an English name in an attempt to look with-it and international. But they often end up looking out-of-it and irrational.

When it comes to choosing English trade names, the French are:

ParisUpdate-CestIronique-Shops-Not Shy Jake Dear

Spotted by reader Jake Dear. Who also spotted the next one.

Some of the names they pick are rather, shall we say, uninspired:

ParisUpdate-CestIronique-Shops-Authentic Shoes Jake Dear

I don’t know about you, but when I buy footwear I want to know that I’m getting real, genuine shoes. Not those fake things that turn out to be made of papier mâché once you get them home.

Some are meant to sound exotic, but don’t:

ParisUpdate-CestIronique-Shops-Ohio Margie Rubin

Ah, yes. Ohio. Where all the trendy, sophisticated fashions come from. (Spotted by reader Margie Rubin.)

Some are meant to rhyme, but don’t:

ParisUpdate-CestIronique-Shops-Come sweet home

In fairness, this does rhyme in French. Sort of.

Some are apparently meant to conjure up images of The Old Sod, but don’t:

ParisUpdate-CestIronique-Shops-OFood

It serves pizzas and hamburgers. Traditional Irish fare.

And some just make you wonder what the hell the owner was thinking:

ParisUpdate-CestIronique-Shops-Thanx-God

Remember what I said about the unavoidable simplification of spelling and grammar? This vintage fashion store on Rue de Lancry is doing its part.

Some business owners succumb to the temptation to make puns. Horrible, horrible puns:

ParisUpdate-CestIronique-Shops-Meryl Street

Next door is a shop called Charlize Theroad.

And many have a special fondness for juxtaposition. Any two English words, logic notwithstanding, can be mashed together in a French shop sign:

ParisUpdate-CestIronique-Shops-Wild  the Moon

This eatery’s website explains that they “feast on wilderness” and that “the moon is our synchronized sister.” So it makes sense after all! To someone.

ParisUpdate-CestIronique-Shops-Hot  Dog Margie Rubin

“Atelier” means “workshop.” And “&” means, “We don’t know what ’hot dog’ means.” (Also spotted by reader Margie Rubin.)

Like the previous example, some signs can’t seem to make up their minds which language they’re in:

ParisUpdate-CestIronique-Shops-The Bar a Sourcils

“Sourçils” means “eyebrows.” Which is what I raised when the employees saw me outside taking this photo.

Some try (and more or less fail) to evoke contemporary buzzwords:

ParisUpdate-CestIronique-Shops-Facefood Damien Serban

Well, it is indeed a place where you can feed your face. (Spotted by reader Damien Serban.)

Some are frankly alarming:

ParisUpdate-CestIronique-Shops-The Beans on Fire

Apparently the key word here refers to “coffee beans.” Which is only slightly less alarming.

And some are just plain weird:

ParisUpdate-CestIronique-Shops-Make Me Yoga Jake Dear

Oh yeah? Well you can kiss my namaste! (Actually spotted by me, but photo taken by Jake Dear.)

It is a matter of public record that I love living in Paris. There are many reasons for this, 15 of which appear in this article.

So when people ask me if I would ever move anywhere else, I give them a two-word reply. The first word is “move” and the second word is:

ParisUpdate-CestIronique-Shops-Schmoove Margie Rubin

Once again, spotted by remarkably observant reader Margie Rubin. Who must be one of the very few people whose dinner guests actually look forward to seeing their vacation photos.

Note to readers: like all going concerns in France, Paris Update is going to take a summer break, including the entire month of August. C’est Ironique will return, tanned, rested and struggling with post-vacation depression, on September 14.

Have you seen a ridiculous sign in Paris, or anywhere in France? If so, please send a photo to me in care of This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

David Jaggard

An album of David Jaggard’s comic compositions is now available for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music, for purchase (whole or track by track) on iTunes and Amazon, and on every other music downloading service in the known universe, under the title “Totally Unrelated.”

Note to readers: David Jaggard’s e-book Quorum of One: Satire 1998-2011 is available from Amazon as well as iTunes, iBookstore, Nook, Reader Store, Kobo, Copia and many other distributors.

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