Day 8 Marvellous pictures and curios of French

I recently read about a lunar fogbow; a phenomenon caused by moonlight passing through fog. Googling that term, I found a website with a wonderful collection of astronomical pictures. The website is one set up by NASA and the address of the index is http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/archivepix.html.

I can really recommend it. If you want to see a photo of a lunar fogbow take a look at the photo for 2nd February 2010. November 25th 2012 has a photo of what looks like trees on Mars but, of course, are not. September 23rd 2012 has a visual demonstration of equinoxes and a solstice. If you are like me you can spend a lot of time browsing these pictures.

I am completely perplexed by the gender aspect of French nouns. Sometime ago, I read an article about the decisions of the Academie francaise, the arbiter of correct decisions on this and other linguistic questions in France. The Academie has 40 members appointed for life. It was established in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu. The article noted that the Academie decided that the French word for “small plastic lapel badges” should be les pins. It would seem logical that one such badge would be un pin. But no, this term is used as a euphemisim for the’ male member’. So the Academie decided that the singular would be un pins. Another thorny problem tackled with imagination by the Academie was the gender of (love) l’amour. Not such a problem because le and la become l’ when the first letter of the noun is a vowel. But when an adjective is used,the adjective has to have the same gender as the noun. But could love really be solely masculine or feminine? The answer was to have the singular of l’amour masculine and the plural feminine. For some reason they also decided that two other nouns should follow the same rule. Namely delice (pleasure) and strangely orgue (organ).

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