|Alouette des champs or sky lark|
While telling a French friend, who is also a professor of German in a lycée, this encouraging anecdote (yes, there is a way out), I slipped up and with still another malapropism nearly brought his 18th century rafters down with laughter saying, "Il ouvrait une si grande bouche qu'on voyait son alouette." He opened his mouth so so wide you could see his...oh good grief!
The French word for uvula, that funny soft fleshy thing that dangles at the back of the mouth, is luette, not alouette, which is that sweet little bird anyone learning French sings about.
I've yet to actually identify an alouette, so I could "officially" check it off in my Roger Tory Peterson's Guide des Oiseaux d'Europe, which incidentally was my very first book purchase as a landed resident in France. I hail from a family of birders so I was delighted to find that the familiar Peterson field book series existed for European birds. (In the bird world, the Peterson Identification System is considered the greatest thing since binoculars.) I pounced on it at the fifth annual Salon du Livre back in 1985, which at the time was held in the not yet restored Grand Palais in Paris.
Bibliophiles present in Paris might want to make note that the 2011 Salon du Livre will be held March 18-21 at the Porte de Versailles.
To listen to the long and varied chant of the alouette des champs, click here.
Expression: Le miroir aux alouettes is something which fascinates by virtue of its misleading appearance, and fools. The expression's origin comes from a spinning, mirrored lure hunters used to place in fields to attract ground nesting alouettes.
camisole de force: straightjacket
chant: singing, song
©2011 P.B. Lecron