Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Trivia Tuesday

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In the context of being taken to task by Byter Nicolas for an apocryphal story about Napoleon, I asked whether anybody could translate for me Nic's concluding comment “Merci encore pour mon pain quotidien.”

I received the following response from Sue:

Ah Otto, I will echo his French: 
"Thank you again for my daily bread" 
But you can translate most languages for free here:
or here: 

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Whilst on the topic of apocryphal French stories, here is one posted some time ago but too good not to repeat. 

The story may or may not be urban myth. It has been examined by snopes.com, which states that whilst it has the hallmarks of an urban legend (unsourced, multiple versions and non-specific), it cannot establish one way or another whether it is true.

Nonetheless, some quotes are just too good to let pass, even if there is a question mark hanging over it... 

At the end of a long and probably very boring meal at a formal dinner, British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan turned to Madame de Gaulle and asked politely what she was looking forward to in her retirement. Quick as a flash the elderly lady replied: "A penis." Macmillan had been trained all his life never to appear shocked, but even he was a bit taken aback. After drawling out a series of polite platitudes, - "Well, I can see your point of view, don't have much time for that sort of thing nowadays" - it gradually dawned on him to his intense relief that what she was trying to say, under a heavy French accent, was “happiness.”

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Another bit of French trivia:

I mentioned to some people last week, as we entered a mediation room, that back in 1968 when there were peace talks in Paris to seek an end to the Vietnam War, the two sides spent months arguing over the shape of the mediation table. As soldiers and civilians alike kept dying, the arguments over the table design stalled.  Ultimately the table design was resolved but the peace talks would go on for another three and a half years, both publicly and secretly. Washington wanted all troops out of South Vietnam; Hanoi refused any provisional South Vietnamese government that involved leader Van Thieu. A peace accord was finally signed on 27 January, 1973.

As regards the table design:

The Paris Peace talks, which opened on May 10, continue to be plagued by procedural questions that impeded any meaningful progress. South Vietnamese Premier Nguyen Cao Ky refused to consent to any permanent seating plan that would place the National Liberation Front (NLF) on an equal footing with Saigon. North Vietnam and the NLF likewise balked at any arrangement that would effectively recognize the Saigon as the legitimate government of South Vietnam. Prolonged discussions over the shape of the negotiating table was finally resolved by the placement of two square tables separated by a round table. Chief U.S. negotiator Averell Harriman proposed this arrangement so that NLF representatives could join the North Vietnamese team without having to be acknowledged by Saigon's delegates; similarly, South Vietnamese negotiators could sit with their American allies without having to be acknowledged by the North Vietnamese and the NLF representatives. Such seemingly insignificant matters became fodder for many arguments between the delegations at the negotiations. 
- History Channel
This Day in History, 12 Dec 1968

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The name "Paris" is derived from its early inhabitants, the Celtic tribe known as the Parissii. The city was called Lutetia (more fully, Lutetia Parisiorum, "Lutetia of the Parisii"), during the Roman era of the 1st to the 4th century AD, but during the reign of Julian the Apostate (360–3), the city was renamed Paris. It is believed that the name of the Parisii tribe comes from the Celtic Gallic word parisio, meaning "the working people" or "the craftsmen".

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