Tag: French

My career as an international musician

Never heard of me?

You are probably wondering: “If he is an international musician, how come I have never heard of him?” It could be that my international career as a musician was very short-lived… or I am known under a different name…or I am lying.

My career, as described above, was very short-lived and if not exactly lying, I am exaggerating.

A bit of guitar experience

First of all, I cannot competently play an instrument (about from spending a few years learning classical guitar), I can barely read music, I cannot really sing (or, at least, not professionally), I am no composer…but I toured 23 towns in the USA in the early 70s as a professional musician!

I toured 23 towns in the US

Some of them were small towns, such as Las Cruces in New Mexico (just above 50,000 people at the time); Dumas in Texas (probably less than 10,000 inhabitants). Some were much bigger, such as Amarillo, also in Texas (around 150,000 people, in the early 70s) and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania (1.5 million residents).

We played to full houses every day and every night (or rather to full stadiums). But we were not top of the bill, as several other bands were involved,  like the Mothers of Invention,  Creedence Clearwater Revival and so on).

Her gift was a mystery

How did I get involved? The mother of one of my friends, as a parting gift, gave me a pair of bongos. Very nice ones. I had no idea why she gave them to me. I knew she liked me but that does not mean you give bongos to people you like. This is still a mystery to me…

My talented Argentinian girlfriend

At the time, I had a girl-friend from Argentina. We went to the same Californian university. She was a very talented singer and guitar player. She sang in a very good South-American band consisting of musicians from various Latin American countries. The leader was from Paraguay. They were all excellent musicians (as far as my musically inept ears could tell).

I knew the words

They were invited to play in these 23 towns spread across the USA. For some reason, my girl-friend decided I should be on stage with them. I argued that I could not play an instrument, I was not a trained singer and I had no stage presence or experience. She insisted. She really wanted to be on stage with me. I did not know what to do really… She decided that I could somehow play the bongos and do a bit of backup singing as I knew the words, having gone to many rehearsals and concerts with her band before.

Over 50,000 people

And this is how I became an international musician playing in front of sell-out crowds, sometimes in front of well over 50,000 people (for instance, in Amarillo, on a 4th of July)!

You will have noticed that I have not given the name of the band or of my then girl-friend! This is to protect the privacy of my friends as their professional careers were not in the musical field and they joined the world of academia, where some of them are well known.

 

The attention-hungry monster in our pockets..

Communication

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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Engineering – how the UK has shot itself in the foot

Last night, we went to see “Passengers”, a film about engineering! Two people are stuck on a huge spaceship on a 100+ year journey travelling to a colony planet. Basically, they are awake when they should be in hibernation.

Four things were particularly striking: Spoiler alert if you haven’t seen it!

 

Four main things struck us about the whole trip:

 

  1. There was an excellent ad by EDF before the film which is clearly focused on promoting engineering careers to women (their Pretty Curious campaign, see http://bit.ly/2iASPR6)
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If Trump doesn’t want to trade with the rest of the world, it suits us fine..

Trade is global, like it or not

Donald Trump has stated that it is his intention to restrict imports to the USA. In theory, that sounds fine – but supposing the rest of the world says, “OK Donald, same to you!” ?

I have recently bought something from China. OK, I didn’t realise it was in China, but the miracle of online shopping makes it easy. One or two clicks on Amazon (or was it ebay?) and I had bought and paid. Didn’t notice it was going to take a month to arrive at first…

Plus side for Europe

There are plenty of countries inside and outside Europe happy to take up trade opportunities that the USA lets slip.  Most speak English, but for those that don’t translation is widely available – although it’s obvious who has relied on machine translation.

Sell to French speakers

Someone rings up, wanting to sell to you. Do they say “Want to buy…..?” in any language other than English? What would you think if they asked in French? Or Spanish? Or Chinese? There’s a clue here to effective sales technique. You need to approach customers in their own language, not yours.

Sell in the right language

Supposing you want to sell to French speakers…not necessarily in France.  In Europe, French speaking countries are France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Monaco and Switzerland.

French further afield

What about countries in Africa- with hugely successful, growing economies? French speaking countries (ie where French is an official language) include Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic,  Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo, Republic of the Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius,Morocco, Niger, Réunion, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Togo and Tunisia.

So if you are interested in expanding your exports, you could do a lot worse than target one or two of these countries. Also, there is a lot to be said for being able to escape the British winter and flying to one of those sunny places…

The French are like the Italians!

Here are ten ways they are similar:
Words and language

They have lots of vocabulary in common – because the languages come from the Latin eg “sud” for”south”. Being French translators, we can often guess the meaning of signs in Italian.

Food

They both like very expensive pastry and croissant-like things which are outrageously pricy, and they eat these things for breakfast!
Both countries grow very delicious tomatoes, unlike the pallid, crunchy drink of water types we have in the UK.

On the road

There are some real nutcase drivers on French roads, and even more on Italian roads (mostly on motorbikes). Translators spend a lot of time helping foreign drivers who have accidents on French or Italian roads!

Religion

Both the French and the Italians are predominantly Roman Catholics and even small villages often have churches which resemble cathedrals!

Culture and attitude

The Italians and the French both have many heartfelt songs about love – and it’s the words and story that really matters – eg the opera.

The French and the Italians are equally proud of their food and their wine.

Identity and politics

Both the Italians and the French describe their flag as the 3-coloured flag – the tricolore, spelled the same (but pronounced differently).

Both France and Italy are relatively recent republics.

In both France and Italy, local government (commune – the same in both languages) power is often vested in the local mayor who can have significant decision-making power and responsibility even in small towns.

And here is a very important 11th – the French and the Italians enjoy much more sunshine than the Brits!

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