Next time someone complains about singular “they” I’ll point them to this 17th century rant against singular “you”.

Here’s the original book the screencap is from.


Little fact about French because I just learned that




The accent circonflexe (^) exists in French words to replace the “s” that no longer exists but used to be there in older French.

For example: fenêtre used to be fenestre

It is still possible to see the “s” at times in family words like “défenestrer”.

knowing this, « être » becomes much more regular :

  • être  → estre (es, est, sommes, ê[s]tes, sont ; ser-)

some French derivations become clearer :

  • fenêtre   → défenestrer → L. fenestra
  • fête   → festival
  • hôpital → hospitaliser (E. hospital, ise)
  • intérêt  → intéressant (E. interest, -ing)
  • ancêtre  → ancestral (E. ancestor, -ral)
  • arrêt    → arrestation
  • épître  → épistolaire (E. epistle)

some English cognates become more obvious :

  • hôtel  → hostel (E. ‘hotel’ borrowed from French)
  • forêt  → forest (tipp to remember ^ goes on the ‹e›)
  • bête  → beast
  • côte  → coast
  • honnête → honest
  • pâte, pâté → pasta, paste
  • quête   → quest
  • enquête  → inquest
  • tempête  → tempest
  • vêtements → vestments (ie. clothes)
  • baptême → baptism

sometimes, the acute replaces the circumfex for phonetic reasons :

  • ḗcole   → escole → L. schola (E. school)
  • ḗtranger   → estrangier (E. stranger)
  • ḗtudier   → estudier (E. study)
  • dḗgoûtant → desgoustant (E. disgusting)
  • dḗbarquer → desembarquer (E. disembark)
  • rḗpondre  → respondre (E. respond)
  • rḗpublique → L. res publica

Also, where « c → ch » (eg. cantare→ chanter) :

  • château → castel (E. castle)
  • pêcher → L. piscare

and « w → gu » (eg. war→ guerre ; warden→ guardian) :

  • guêpe → E. wasp ! (this is my n° 1 favourite cognate)

bonus etymologies :

  • tête   → L. testa
  • fantôme  → L. phantasma (E. ‘phantom’ borrowed from French)
  • Pâques  → Gk. pásxa → Am. pésaḫ (E. Paschal)

Also just be aware that the circumflex has some other uses too, like distinguishing « sur — sûr » or « dû » and the vowel quality in « âge »

Where was this post when I was doing A-Level French! This is actually a really interesting language change called “syncope” (the loss of a medial segment within a word) and what makes it even more interesting to me is that not only was the -s- dropped post vocalically and largely before voiceless stops, but that the circumflex was (unnecessarily but coolly) adopted as an orthographic marker of the lost -s-. Even more interesting is that syncope usually occurs in vowels. I love this.


‘staring into the camera like you’re on the office’ is such an interesting cultural phenomenon because it points to one of my very favorite things in pop culture, which is the use of commonly known fictional situations to indicate an emotion or context that is extremely specific and can’t necessarily be communicated with language alone.

why do characters on the office look into the camera?  on the office, the characters are being filmed as part of a documentary; they understand they are being filmed and can acknowledge that fourth wall and those theoretical future viewers.  but because the office is a comedy, that fourth wall acknowledgement is not about explaining motivations or gaining approval for an action, but about sharing an agreement with a group of people who are not actually there.  

characters on the office look into the camera when something ridiculous is happening that no one in the room thinks is ridiculous but the person looking at the camera, were they to say ‘this is so ridiculous’ to the people in the room, their comrades in fiction, they would get serious pushback or anger; to those characters the situation is serious.  the character looking into the camera is a more objective viewer, like the audience, and by looking at us they’re putting themselves on our objective team.  and in the future when this ‘documentary’ would air, they would be vindicated as the person who understood that the situation was ridiculous.

so in real life, when we talk about ‘looking into the camera like we’re on the office’, this very specific emotion is what we’re referring to: that we’re in a situation that any objective viewer would find inherently ridiculous, and are seeking acknowledgement from an invisible but much larger group that would agree with us, even though nobody in the situation would do so.  we’re putting ourselves in an outsider position, a less emotional position, and inherently a more powerful position, because we’re not vulnerable to being laughed at like all the ridiculous people we’re among.  we’re among them, but we’re not with them, and the millions of people watching us on theoretical tv would be on our team, not theirs.  that’s such a specific idea and concept, and one that’s really hard to communicate in pure language.  but we can say ‘looking into the camera like we’re on the office’ and it’s much easier to communicate what we mean.

for me that’s what pop culture is for, and why it’s so important that it’s pop culture.  maybe it feels more special if it’s only you and a grape who know that something exists, but the more people consume something, the more its situations and reactions become common knowledge, a sort of communal well from which we can draw to articulate real life problems.  and ultimately, the easier it is for us to communicate and understand each other.

“Je crois à toi” vs “Je crois en toi”


As it turns out, grammar does matter, and Hugo knew it damn well. Something has always bothered me about this sentence, and now I know why. The difference doesn’t exist in English translations, because both “à” and “en” translates to “in”, hence Grantaire’s “I believe in you”. But it isn’t the case in French :

“Je crois à toi” isn’t grammatically correct. In French, you don’t believe “à” someone, you believe “en” someone. “Je crois à” is restricted to things and fictional beings, as in :

  • Je crois à la Petite Souris (I believe in the Tooth Fairy)
  • Je ne crois pas à la Révolution (I don’t believe in the Revolution)

There are a few exceptions (because otherwise grammar wouldn’t be grammar) but one thing is certain : “à” can not be used to introduce a noun or pronoun referring to a real person :

  • Je crois en lui (I believe in him)
  • “Je crois à lui” sounds wrong, as wrong as “I believe to him” sounds

Then, why does Hugo use both? Because Grantaire knows the difference as well. Grantaire is good with words and proves it more than once. Remember this quote : “Who has been unhooking the stars without my permission, and putting them on the table in the guise of candles?” ? Grantaire says it drunk. DRUNK. If this man can be that lyrical while smashed to high hell, why would he forget fundamental grammatical principles, all of a sudden?
Answer : he wouldn’t. He does it on purpose.

He’s mirroring Enjolras’s speech :

“Tu ne crois à rien.”
“Je crois à toi.”

This may sound insignificant and, yes, considering the length of the brick, it may be but bear with me. Grantaire is having a laugh, in this passage. Yes, he is serious, he does want to prove his value to Enjolras, but at the same time, he’s Grantaire. He can’t help himself but to play with words. And my best guess is that he’s teasing Enjolras, hence the “Be serious” “I am wild” that comes soon after.

Then what about “Je crois en toi”? Well, it’s a question of context. Look at the description preceeding Grantaire’s declaration :

“Grantaire,” [Enjolras] called, “go and sleep your wine off somewhere else.
This is a place for intoxication but not for drunkenness. Don’t dishonor
the barricade.”

The sharp rebuke had a remarkable effect on Grantaire, as though he
had received a splash of cold water. Suddenly he was sober. He sat down
with his elbows on a table by the window, and looking with great
sweetness at Enjolras called back:

“Tu sais que je crois en toi”

“Go away.”

Grantaire is serious this time. This isn’t a joke anymore. This is real declaration he’s making here. Enjolras is yelling at him, and yet, Grantaire’s attitude is all but belligerent. I would even argue that “great sweetness” is far from the reverent and loving “inexprimable douceur” from the French text.

Unfortunately, Enjolras is so used to his lack of faith and seriousness that he dismisses it. Grantaire has disappointed him more than once by that point in the brick, so his attitude is understandable. But if Grantaire lacks faith in the cause, he doesn’t lack any in Enjolras. The tragic thing is that Enjolras doesn’t realise it and Grantaire’s serious profession of faith is dismissed. One last nail in your coffin? Look at what comes after :

“Grantaire, you are incapable of believing or thinking or willing or living or dying.”
“You’ll see,” said Grantaire gravely. “You’ll see.”



The actor made his talk show debut and told Ellen about the Welsh village where he grew up. It’s a mouthful!

I have to reblog this for two reasons, one because video…

…and two because every time i see this post it’s “this young man” and “this person who made their talk show debut on Ellen” and I keep thinking… is it possible that no one know that this is Taron Egerton?  He was all over tumblr when Kingsman was out and that wasn’t that long ago.  O_o;;;  Or are people just assuming that everyone knows who he is?







He tripped out

She literally said something in feline. She had to have

This certainly got my cats’ attention.

it looks so betrayed “i thought we were friends human”

She really must say something crazy, cause my two kitties came running towards my notebook and were searching for the source crazily.




my biggest pet peeve wiht the english language is that you don’t have sin/sina

in swedish if u have two people who use the same pronoun u can always tell whos doing what bc its like ‘han tog sin väska’ (he took his[own] bag) and ‘han tog hans väska’ would be that he took the other persons bag

but in english its like if u have 2 ppl w/ the same pronoun:

“she took her bag” whose bag????WHose BAG was it her OWN bag or the other her’s bag??????????????

“he ate his donuts” were the donuts his own???? did he fucking eat someone elses donuts??? YIU DONT KNOW bc english is a bullshit language


A lot of people have made audio posts showing how to pronounce the names of the main characters in Les Mis, Les Amis, etc. I decided to make one for the names that weren’t covered but are still likely to come up in fic or discussion.

French pronunciations (normal and syllabic) are followed by suggested anglicizations. Here’s:

1) Myriel

2) Baptistine

3) Magloire

4) Petit-Gervais

5) Fauchelevent

6) Champmathieu

7) Tholomyès

8) Bamatabois

9) Patron-Minette

10) Babet

11) Gueulemer

12) Claquesous

13) Montparnasse

14) Brujon

15) Gavroche

16) Gillenormand

Note: translations are approximate, as I’m not a native French speaker.

Some of my favourite linguistic developments



‘Is that a thing?’ for ‘does that exist?’

Deliberate omission of grammar to show e.g. defeatedness, bewilderment, fury. As seen in Tumblr’s ‘what is this I don’t even’.

‘Because [noun]’. As in ‘we couldn’t have our picnic in the meadow because wasps.’

Use of kerning to indicate strong bewilderment, i.e. double-spaced letters usually denoting ‘what is happening?’ This one is really interesting because it doesn’t really translate well to speech. It’s something people have come up with that uses the medium of text over the internet as a new way of communicating instead of just a transcript of speech or a quicker way to send postal letters.

Just the general playing around with sentence structure and still being able to be understood. One of my favourites of these is the ‘subject: *verbs* / object: *is verb*’ couplet, as in:

Beekeeper: *keeps bees*
Bees: *is keep*


Me: *holds puppy*
Puppy: *is hold*

I just love how this all develops organically with no deciding body, and how we all understand and adapt to it.

Man but the current usage of “is that a thing?” is not just standing in for “does that exist?” or it wouldn’t be nearly as interesting. It can, depending on context mean:

“Is that a thing (that exists)?”
“Is that a thing (that people do)?”
“Is that a thing (that’s considered normal)?”
“Is that a thing (that’s possible)?”
“Is that a thing (that’s significant)?”

In a lot of cases “a thing” is standing in for the much more archaic phrasing “the done thing”, as in “is bringing host gifts to a summoning ritual (the done thing | a thing)?”

And that’s interesting in and of itself but it also encompasses all those other meanings with very few miscommunications. Despite the multipurpose phrasing we almost always understand what someone is asking when they ask if something is a thing, and that’s *really cool*

germans: ok, so our country is called Deutschland
the french: got it. the country of Allemagne
germans: …no? that doesn’t even sound like it
the english: oh no, we got it, it’s Germany
germans: not even close
the polish: it’s Niemcy, right?
germans: how are you each getting it wrong in a completely different way
danes: Tyskland
lithuanians: Vokietija
slovakians: Nemecko
germans: …
finns: Saksa
germans: you know what? sure. whatever
japanese: Doitsu?
germans: i mean at least you tried