Can henhouses blow up? The conclusion


"Blimey...hope mine isn't going to blow up!"


A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about exploding henhouses. It turns out I got some of the facts wrong.

My sister didn’t believe me

Last week, we went to visit my uncle Georges (88) and his wife, my aunt Marie (84) in Toulon (my hometown). Both are still mentally sharp. The day before, I had talked to my sister about the exploding henhouse incident. She did not know anything about it. She, in fact, expressed some doubt about the whole story!

Visit to Toulon

So, the next afternoon we went to the old family house where uncle Georges and auntie Marie live. After a while, I asked my auntie what she remembered of the crate of grenades exploding in her henhouse while she was feeding her hens.

She had no idea

“What are you talking about?” she asked? She did not know anything about the grenades. So, I explained to her the whole story: my mother asked my two uncles (one of them being uncle Georges) to get rid of a crate of grenades my late father used to keep under the matrimonial bed during the war,  years ago.

“Is this true?” she asked

After I finished relating this strange episode, my auntie turned to my uncle to ask if this was true. With a wry smile, he nodded. My auntie was absolutely flabbergasted. So was my sister, my wife, my cousin Andre (uncle Georges’ and auntie Marie’s son), and myself.

It seems that my uncle Georges never told the truth about the exploding henhouse to my auntie Marie. But even more surprising, for over 50 years, it seems that my auntie Marie thought that her exploding henhouse had been a natural phenomenon!

How weird is that? How could you live most of your life thinking that henhouses can spontaneously explode?

Just a thought -there’s still no news of the gun my uncle Georges also agreed to get rid of as a favour to my mother…

Can hen houses explode…?

Happy French hen

Can henhouses blow up?

Yes, they can and in fact they do (sometimes). Ask my aunt Marie. She can confirm it.

I can hear you thinking: “Who is this fool? Hen houses do not explode. It would make the news or something.”

I think I’d better explain my statement about exploding hen houses.

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The French started their election before the UK

Presidential Candidates 2017


French Presidential Candidates

I have just received a very thick envelope from the French Embassy. It contains a 4-page document for each of the 11 candidates for the French Presidential election. The first round is this Sunday (April 23rd, 2017). The top two candidates will go to a second round (May 7th, 2017) as it is very unlikely that a candidate will get 50% of the vote + 1 on the first round. None of the seven previous presidents of the 5th Republic (the current) were elected during the first round. The closest to do it were General Charles de Gaulle in 1958 (close to 45%) and François Mitterrand in 1974 (over 43%).

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It’s critical to give your translator clear instructions

Ensure you tell the linguist what you mean

It is important to give the translator specific and detailed instructions to avoid any mistakes – sometimes, embarrassing ones! For instance, in 1991, a competitive fighting game called Street Fighter II: The World warrior launched in Japan. It was a sequel to an arcade game released a few years before.

The translator didn’t know the context

When translation was done from Japanese into English, the translator only got the text. He had no idea of what was really going on on the screen. He (or she) had to translate the following sentence: “If you cannot overcome the Rising Dragon Punch, you cannot win!”. The Japanese characters for “Rising Dragon” were interpreted by the translator as “Sheng Long”. The translator thought a new character called Sheng Long was being introduced!

It drove gamers crazy!

Gamers went wild trying to find this non-existent character. The year after, a famous gaming magazine carried out an April Fool’s joke. They published a series of complex instructions to find Sheng Long. Obviously to no avail… a good laugh, though.

I wonder how many hours were thus wasted!

Are translators psychic?

It is amazing how some clients can assume the translator knows what is inside their head. We aren’t famous for being psychic – although I think you develop it a bit over the years…

The attention-hungry monster in our pockets..


The monster insisting

We love our smartphones

Why do we love our smart phones so much? It’s all to do with language and communication. While on our holiday in Cape Verde we noticed something strange. A lot of young couples spent their time gazing lovingly at their smartphones instead of at their partners.

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She says tomahto and I say tomate: French v English

Here and there

Something that frequently catches out us native French speakers in English is the use of “here” and “there”. Well, it does me.

The other variation is “this” and “that”. We might be out walking the dog. My wife will say “Do you want to go this way, or that way?”

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