Feeling vs Smelling

Friends, I’ll be honest: I’ve hit a rocky patch recently. I prefer to keep the happy public face because it’s more fun for you and certainly better for me. I can’t tell you how much I love getting your comments; they brighten even bad days.

One upside to my personal struggles is that I’ve found my way back to a more conventional “Faux Pas” to share with you this Friday.

Hard times call for long conversations (at least in my book). So I’ve been doing a lot of emoting of late. You know, talking about feelings.

Only since this talk is in French, it’s inevitably garbled.

Sentir means both to smell and to feel. I confess I have no idea if there’s a correct way to structure sentences to make the difference clear. I’m pretty sure there’s been some confusion in some of my conversations. I thought the difference might lie in that one was reflexive and the other not, but even that hasn’t seemed to help.

So [insert deep discussion], then: “But what do you smell?” I insist.
[Questioning look].

“I mean, what do you feel?”

An actual bar in the 20th. Looks like I am not the only one having trouble with the word feel!

This faux pas series has helped me transform my once humiliating errors into something pretty humorous. Why, I almost look forward to making mistakes now! The only thing is, I realize I’m not the best guide for you. I mean, I know when I’ve said something off (or I find out years later!), but my form of French is so…um, let’s say, interesting….that the correct explanation often eludes me.

I learned French in guerrilla fashion, remember. Heavy on the “sink or swim” model, light on actual grammar classes. Grammar pointers from you experts out there are always welcome!

So, hope you’re smelling the roses and feeling great. If someone wants to translate that into French, go right ahead. (You know I’d screw it up). Bon weekend! (And please excuse me if I need to take a little blog break, though I’ll try not to!)

30 Responses to “Feeling vs Smelling”

  1. 1 Delana May 7, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Sion, I hope you feel better soon. I’ve had a few rocky patches too recently and it does seem to help me to keep my smile in my typing fingers. But sometimes it’s just too much. To add to your Faux Pas Friday, yesterday I told somebody I wanted to mount or climb him and what I meant was I wanted to show him something. I always get montrer and monter mixed up. He was smiling! Hang in there honey. We’re all here with you!


    • 2 parisimperfect May 7, 2010 at 4:09 pm

      Aw, thanks, Delana. See, I feel better already. Your faux pas example is great. I bet he was smiling – it’s probably not everyday that a beautiful woman says she wants to mount him! Thanks for the kind words and happy typing to both of us!


  2. 3 Lydia May 7, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Oh honey, Im sorry you are having a hard time. ‘Keep yer pecker up’ as they say in cockney english. Ill share a faux pas with you that is all to do with breasts and pumkins but it will have to wait a moment as I have to dash out right now. Dont give up,keep going. Have a blogging break if you need to but Ill miss you.
    back later


    • 4 parisimperfect May 7, 2010 at 4:13 pm

      Oh thanks. Can’t wait to hear this breast/pumpkin faux pas. Hmm, I really can’t quite imagine πŸ™‚ I love this. Everyone is going to tell their funny faux pas stories so I can’t help but laugh. Y’all are the best. Gives me motivation *not* to take the blogging break. I’ll be back soon, too!


  3. 5 pariskarin May 7, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Oooh, I am looking forward to knowing more about the breast/pumpkin faux pas, too!! πŸ™‚ Sounds interesting. The Cockney expression up there is *killing* me, also. πŸ˜€

    I’m smelling, I mean feeling, pretty good of late, but I will be feeling better when the sunshine and warmth is here in full-force.

    Remember, if you want a little break sometime, I’ve been meaning to go check out the Rosa Bonheur cafΓ© in the BC park some afternoon. If you would like to join me, you know where to find me.

    Meanwhile, (as you know) there is another blogger that was polling folks about language faux pas, too. I wrote that mine is realizing that my biggest faux pas is not even *trying* of late. I’m getting discouraged about ever learning the freakin’ language. I hope that some more opportunities will come my way to get the ball rolling on this a little more. It’s not easy being a guerrilla language warrior! I am, though, still enjoying the show “100% Mag” most evenings and this helps my French comprehension at least. The fiancΓ© and I also like to tune in to see how much cleavage Estelle Denis is showing each evening. Last night, she was on a trampoline with a fairly low-cut shirt. She actually did this move where she bounced down and onto her tummy, then back up again. In slo-mo, it would have been verrrry interesting, the fiancΓ© commented, lol! πŸ˜‰

    Be well, Sion, and have a good weekend!


    • 6 parisimperfect May 7, 2010 at 6:12 pm

      Yeah, the “keep your pecker up” expression got me, too. (Thanks, Lydia, you’re generating *all* sorts of interest here :))
      As for you, Karin, just get out there! I know, easier said than done, but a little secret: There are a *lot* of French people in Paris. Bet you can find an excuse to practice πŸ™‚

      Really, I know how hard it is. Believe me! But just think, the more you try, the more you can contribute to this faux pas series! Isn’t that incentive enough??

      I will totally go to Rosa Bonheur with you. Let’s wait for full on sun and warmth, though. I’ll also let you know when my, ahem, pecker is back up (just trying out the new expression, folks) so I’ll be more fun. Talk soon.


      • 7 pariskarin May 9, 2010 at 11:04 am

        “Let’s wait for full on sun and warmth, though.” Absolutely. It cannot come too soon. I’m glad that the situation is not as bad as further south of us, but I am SO ready for warmer and sunnier weather. Once it is, we’ll do it.

        Here’s to the pecker perking up! (lol)


  4. 8 shan May 7, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    Lydia – Me too I want to hear about the pumpkins! Let me know if I can gank it for my friday post as well?

    Karin – Get a couple of french friends & that language issue will get better πŸ˜‰ Or we could grab a cup of tea and I’ll bring a ruler to slap your wrists when you make mistakes!

    Sion – siiigh. I feel you. 😦 Writing helps, in it’s own ‘let’s talk about anything except the crap’ way. It can be quite the panacea in general, a sort of emotional anesthetic that allows you to get out of your own head. Sometimes you just need a break though, and that’s where films & books come into play. Get into someone else’s head for a weekend! Hope all’s well, sending you good vibes & don’t forget that you deserve time to yourself.

    PS: I want to know where to read your flash fiction!


    • 9 parisimperfect May 7, 2010 at 6:18 pm

      Thanks, Shannon. Looking forward to your faux pas post today, too. Yep, I’m doing the whole cocooning myself in my own little world for a little while. Sometimes you just gotta do it. (Not to mention it’s kind of a good time for it. I mean, hello, winter has come back?!?!)

      As for the flash fiction, hmm, had a couple little ones recently published, but when I say little, I mean, like six sentences! (Check out http://sixsentences.blogspot.com/) I’m in their Volume 3 and Word of Mouth books. (Yes, print!)

      Happy writing.


  5. 10 Linda May 7, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    Hang in there, girlfriend, this too shall pass. I know that anyone with your humor and intelligence can handle whatever comes down the pike, but I hope your challenges disappear soon…at least the yucky ones. You can keep all the fun challenges.:-)


  6. 12 Geary May 7, 2010 at 8:53 pm


    Sorry to hear about your rocky patch. At my age, 70, I can remember many of them. Thinking back, I always seem to have magnified my difficulties and forgot that I was young, healthy, and tomorrow would bring new life adventures and any present difficulties would fade. Now I mostly remember the good times and am very thankful for all of it. The bad times were painful, but they taught me things I needed to learn I suppose.

    Don’t mean to preach as I know you are aware of all this.

    I put your quote thru Google translator to get the following:
    Donc, j’espΓ¨re que vous Γͺtes sentir les roses et se sentir bien.

    A literal translation, I suppose, but could you comment on it?



    • 13 parisimperfect May 7, 2010 at 9:42 pm

      Thanks for your kind message, Geary. Yes, I know there’s always much to learn from difficulty. I definitely believe that; just hard as you go through it! But I remain thankful for so much, it’s true. Thanks for your wisdom.

      As for the translated line, I don’t think the French ever actually say “stop and smell the roses.” The equivalent idiom would probably be “prenez le temps de vivre” (literally take time to live).

      BUT, my ungrammatically correct (I’m sure) guess at the literal translation of my sentence would be “Donc, j’espere que vous sentez les roses et vous vous sentez bien.”

      Anyone feel free to correct me! (No one should ever take my word on French translations! πŸ™‚ )


  7. 14 Aidan May 8, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    Sion, I hope you come through the rough patch quickly. A


  8. 16 Tanya in Transition May 9, 2010 at 1:09 am

    I used to get mixed up with the sentir/se sentir thing too. In fact, I would avoid using either… If you need the break, take it. You have to look after yourself before you can go ahead and do for others. (Women often have a problem taking care of themselves first.)

    Take a break if you need it but don’t go too long.

    And I believe your translation is spot on.


  9. 18 Kind Reader May 9, 2010 at 1:30 am

    I remember a quotation from a movie which has always resonatated with me. A character in the movie, ‘Unfaithful’ said this at one point, ‘There are no mistakes. There are things you do and things you don’t do.’ Perhaps what is perceived as a mistake has more to do with other people’s reactions to us or from which perspective or frame of reference they are looking at us. We are who we are, none perfect. We do what we think/feel is best at the time and in learning perhaps get to know more of the world and ourselves. And of emotion, I think its beautiful to let it show, the pains along with the joys. Another quotation from Joanny Macy, ‘The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe.’ A bit sentimental perhaps, though I am poet, its my nature.

    I hope you stay well and take good care of your whole self. Peace…Holly.


    • 19 parisimperfect May 9, 2010 at 7:54 pm

      Thanks, Holly. Wow, I really needed to hear some of those words. Great quotes – they resonate with what I’m going through right now. Poetry does wonders in our life πŸ™‚


  10. 20 PigletinFrance May 9, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Hi Sion, I am sorry to read that things are not great with you at the moment. Remember, your blog is only part of your life, if you don’t feel like writing on it then don’t – the most important is to take care of yourself. I’m sure everyone will understand.

    Who knows, if you take some time out you may stumble upon some more really interest stories to share with us and then feel compelled to write anyway?

    You have to do what is best for you. Believe me, I have just come out on the other side of what was the rougest and hardest period of my life. When I was in the midst, I could not write, it was not possible. But slowly, as I started to feel better, I found comfort in writing. I wrote about all sorts of things (not just my blog) and as the words flowed so did my feelings and it helped me.

    Anyway, all that to say I understand if you take a break. I will miss your posts but I will enjoy re-reading at the same time.

    As for feeling V smelling thing, LOL πŸ™‚ Sounds like you learned French the same way as I did!

    Have a good week Sion.


    • 21 parisimperfect May 9, 2010 at 7:57 pm

      Thanks for sharing your story. Sorry to hear you were just going through something so tough, too, but wonderful to hear how you came out the other end. I really appreciate your support and will definitely take care of myself. Thanks for understanding! And you’re probably right – probably will do wonders for my writing, too πŸ™‚


  11. 22 Lydia May 9, 2010 at 10:19 am

    It was halloween. An english lady (near here) decided to decorate a pumkin. She cut it out and lit tea lights inside it, it glowed and looked lovely. Very soon the doorbell rang and a small group of village children stood on the doorstep calling for a trick or treat.
    She opened the door.
    ‘Ahh, les enfants, viens voir ma *poitrine*’ she cried.
    The children backed off, confusion on their little faces.
    ‘Mais viens, ma poitrine, elle est tres belle, elle est tres grande!’ she insisted, beconning them in, holding out a basket of sweets as a further incentive.
    The children turned and fled.

    Poitrine/Potiron, easy mistake to make.
    Can’t imagine what the village parents thought when their children came home that night…

    Keep that pecker up!


    • 23 pariskarin May 9, 2010 at 11:02 am

      “β€˜Mais viens, ma poitrine, elle est tres belle, elle est tres grande!’ she insisted”

      Hahahahahahahaha!! Okay, even my fledgling French got this one, hee hee! That’s hilarious. πŸ™‚

      Thanks everyone, for the encouragement to get out there and just dooo eeeeet! Okay, okay. I’m going to set some intentions to do something about this! πŸ™‚


    • 24 parisimperfect May 9, 2010 at 7:58 pm

      Lydia, that was *SO* worth the wait. I love that story! My gosh. You win first place for next week’s shout-out. Thanks for coming back and telling that story – really brightens my day!


  12. 25 statusviatoris May 9, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    I got in trouble on so many occasions with my faux pas… Like “J’ai mal au cul (bum).” When I really had a sore cou (neck). And telling a story to a group of neighbours well into their dotage, when I said “Et puis ils se sont baises (screwed)!” when I really meant to say that then they embrasses (kissed)! Duh!


  13. 27 Alison May 12, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    So sorry to hear you’ve hit a rough patch. I have faith that you will come out the other side even more fabulous though. And even if it IS a faux pas – Feeling the roses and smelling great isn’t that bad either. Hope you’re back on your feet again soon!


  14. 29 Sara May 17, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    I’m sorry you’re not feeling well lately. I hope some sunshine comes your way soon.

    As for the grammar, the sentir vs se sentir can be tricky –

    It’s not just about getting the right verb form (reflexive vs normal), but the adjectives/adverbs you use with each verb are different.

    That smells good/bad : Ca sent bon/mauvais.
    I feel good/bad (well/poor) : Je me sens bien/mal.

    Take care


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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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