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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French expression of the day: Être dans la lune

This one's got nothing to do with astronauts.

French expression of the day: Être dans la lune

Why do I need to know être dans la lune?

Because it's a pretty and poetic way of describing a common personality trait. 

What does it mean?

Être dans la lune literally means 'to be in the moon' but is used to described someone who's absent-minded, scatterbrained or simply distracted.

It can be translated as 'to have your head in the clouds' or 'to be away with the fairies' or, when used in a more immediate sense, 'to be miles away'.

The moon has long been associated with dreams and distraction, and it's thought this particular expression originated in the work of the 18th Century French thinker Mirabeau who, in his 1756 treatise 'L’Ami des Hommes' (The Friend of Man) used the l'Empire de la Lune (The Empire of the Moon) as a metaphor for the human imagination.

Gazing wistfully up at the moon while promenading along the banks of the Seine and dreaming of your chéri/ chérie is, we feel, a highly French pastime. Perhaps with Debussy's 'Claire de Lune' playing for good measure.  

There's also a pretty much equivalent French expression avoir la tête en l'air' (to have your head in the sky) which you might hear too.

Use it like this

Excusez-moi, j'éŧais dans la lune – Sorry, I was miles away

Elle est toujours dans la lune, cette fille – She's always got her head in the clouds, that girl

Je n'étais pas un bon élève, j'étais toujours dans la lune – I wasn't a good pupil, I was always away with the fairies

You can't beat a good moon shot. Photo: AFP

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: Faire la java

This expression is one to use if you see someone looking a bit worse for wear.

French Expression of the Day: Faire la java

Why do I need to know faire la java?

Because you might be looking for a different way to describe the fun times you had last weekend.

What does it mean?

Faire la java usually pronounced fair lah jah-vah – translates literally as ‘to do the java,’ which refers to a popular dance from the early 1900s in France. However, these days, the phrase is a synonym for the more popular phrase ‘faire la fête’ which means to party, usually involving alcoholic beverages and minimal amounts of sleep.   

In the 1910s to 1920s, when the java dance was popular, it was typically performed at big parties. It’s unclear where the term ‘java’ came from, as it has no connection with the island of Java. The dance itself was quite scandalous at the time, and it was seen as overly sensual and risqué. Though the dance fell out of practice in the 1950s, the phrase remained in use, which is why you’ll probably still hear French people, especially those of the older generation, talking about their wild times ‘faisant la fava.’ 

If you’re curious what the dance was like, here is a clip:

Use it like this

J’étais tellement épuisée quand je me suis réveillée ce matin parce que hier soir on a fait la java. – I was so exhausted when I woke up this morning because last night we partied.

Mes voisins aiment faire la java, ce qui serait bien, mais ils font tellement de bruit les soirs de semaine. – My neighbours love to party, which would be fine, but they make so much noise on weeknights.

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