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French Vocabulary – Nap Time Posted by on Nov 28, 2017 in Culture, Vocabulary

Last Thursday we celebrated the very American holiday of Thanksgiving* here in the United States. And while Thanksgiving is not typically celebrated in France, some of my best memories from my times in France happened on or around Thanksgiving time.

Food coma photo courtesy of Kathryn Hildreth.

First some vocabulary

After dinner Thursday, I entered a state lovingly referred to in the US as a “food coma”. The French you will no doubt not be surprised to learn, do not have a word for this condition! The closest equivalent I’ve been able to find is somnolence digestive which I would translate as “sleepiness brought on by digestion” … which is an accurate definition of a sleep coma, but much less evocative.

As you can tell from the photo, my sleep coma knocked me out on le canapé (the couch) où je me suis endormi** (where I fell asleep)***. I was well rested after an hour or so, mais je me suis réveillé** tout courbatu / avec des courbatures (but I woke up all stiff (or achy) / with muscle aches).

The verb s’endormir (to fall asleep) comes from the verb dormir (to sleep) and is conjugated similarly in the present tense.
Je dors / je m’endors I sleep (am sleeping) / I (am) fall(ing) asleep
Tu dors / tu t’endors You sleep (are sleeping) / You (are) fall(ing) asleep
Il/elle/on dort / s’endort He/she/one sleeps (is sleeping) / falls asleep
Nous dormons / nous nous endormons We sleep (are sleeping) / We (are) fall(ing) asleep
Vous dormez / vous vous endormez You sleep (are sleeping) / You (are) fall(ing) asleep
Ils/elles dorment / s’endorment They sleep (are sleeping) / They (are) fall(ing) asleep

Et un peu d’histoire / une petite histoire (And a little history / a little story)****

A classic Halmark paper turkey (sur le buffet / on the buffet), le drapeau américain (the American flag), and turkey-themed napkins complete the holiday decor (photo courtesy of Tim Hildreth).

It might be an American Thanksgiving, but there was still French Champagne! (photo courtesy of Tim Hildreth)

Many years ago when I was away from home on my first trip to France, my mother tried every way she could to make sure that I didn’t forget where I was from. One thing she did was to send me little care packages full of American-themed goodies. My host family had heard about Thanksgiving from their own son who was spending the year in the United States. So when my mother’s latest package arrived, they decided to use it to throw me my own French Thanksgiving. Coming up with the turkey and all the fixings was a trick (turkey isn’t often on the menu for dinner in France), but thanks to Mom (and her Hallmark shopping) we all got a little taste of America on a cold French November Thursday.

 

Pour finir / And finally

Enjoy this classic French comptine (childrens song) that features the verb dormir … and which might just help you dormir aussi!

* Canada also celebrates Thanksgiving (known in Québec as l’Action de grâce) but in October (octobre). Thanksgiving in the United States is always on the fourth Thursday of November (le quatrième jeudi de novembre). In Canada, l’Action de grâce à lieu le deuxième lundi d’octobre (the second Monday in October).
** ‘s’endormir’
and ‘se réveiller‘ are examples of reflexive verbs.
***
Many people are familiar with the Spanish expression siesta which refers to the afternoon nap/rest time. In French they say “faire le sieste” to refer to a nap. Example: Après le repas de Thanksgiving, j’ai fais un sieste. / After the Thanksgiving meal, I took a nap.
****
I’ve always loved how the French word for history is the same as the word for story.

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About the Author:Tim Hildreth

Lise: Maybe not always. Paris has ways of making people forget. / Jerry: Paris? No, not this city. It's too real and too beautiful. It never lets you forget anything. It reaches in and opens you wide, and you stay that way. / An American in Paris


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