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Lynn Deasy is a freelance writer, author, foodie, and garden tinkerer. She lives in a 600 year old house in southern France with her husband, Christophe. Currently, she is looking for a literary agent for her memoir CA VA? STORIES FROM RURAL LIFE IN SOUTHERN FRANCE which examines the oddities of French provincial living from an outsider’s point of view through a series of adventures that provide more than a fair share of frustration, education, admiration, and blisters…. yes, lots and lots of blisters. Lynn blogs every Monday, Wednesday, and sometimes Friday.

Friday, November 11, 2011

It’s Special.

There’s a word I hear quite often since I’ve moved to France: special.  I hear it all the time, but not in the manner I’m used to such as, “he’s my special someone” or “we went out for a special dinner last night.”  In this sense, it signifies something unique and I know in what sense the word is used.
In France, it’s vague and its connotation can swing in both directions.  For example:

“How was your meeting?”
“It was… special.”
“Special?  What do you mean by that?”
“It was special.”
“Is that good or bad?”

This is often met with a shrug and I’m left to interpret how the meeting went on my own.  With a language as vast as the French one, I don’t understand why they can’t come up with a better word.  The French use special when referring to just about anything: a place, a person, a moment, or more bizarrely a meal.
“Dinner at Sophie’s was special.”

Is the vagueness left intentionally so not to insult the hostess, or was the dinner a truly magically moment that transcends words?  I don’t know unless I was invited and then I could tell you that Sophie can’t boil and egg and somehow messed up a can of ravioli.  I’m direct; I don’t mix words and everyone knows what I’m talking about.  The way I see it, if special is used all too often, the word just is, well, not special anymore.

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