The feet in the dish

Cop and Truth by Cedric_MountainDwellerViews

Nothing but the truth.

I have seen a billboard tonight and it triggered a question in the back of my mind. After years spent on school benches being asked to translate circumvoluted English texts into French, and vice versa, I cannot avoid to continue this exercise, even nowadays. As a result, everytime that I encounter an idiom or an expression I immediatly try to find out what is the equivalent in the other language. Have we got the exact same expression? Have we got a similar idiom but with slightly different words? Why are these words different? Etc.

The above-mentioned billboard promotes a film currently on the screens called "Ugly truth". In French, the equivalent of this expression would be "La triste vérité" (i.e. "the sad truth"). I have been thinking about the discrepency in the chosen adjectives to fulfill the same intention: depreciate life by adding a negative attribute to the noun. In the UK, the truth could be unsightly and not beautiful as one could expect; in France, truth would be at times synonym of sorrow... Two negative concepts that are however by no mean correlated. You can obviously be beautiful and happy, sad and ugly, ugly and happy and beautiful and sad (I let you categorise yourself in the appropriate cluster).

I cannot figure out why such a difference. There must be a cultural element to it, but I cannot put my finger on it. There is no particular evidence that one country would be more incline to favour the "intellect" to "appearance", the "inside" to the "outside". In fact, if I had to bet on such a taxonomy I would have probably associated France to appearance rather than the UK, but that is probably a personal bias. So if someone has a lead on that oddity, I would welcome it with great pleasure.

Culinary art.

In fact, it has been a while since I shared another of these awkward French idioms with my readers. But I seems that I got inspired tonight. So let me give you an odd one: "Mettre les pieds dans le plat" translates literally into "to put both feet in the dish" or "to step into the dish". This has obviously nothing to do with the reputable odour of French cheeses that are widely used in our recipes. No, this expression relates to a situation when someone would clumsily speak the truth whilst the social conventions would have expected more tact.

A few examples? "How you are not coming with your boyfriend John tonight? - No, he ditched me yesterday", "Congratulations on the future baby! - Actually, I need to get on a diet", "Oh, you are enjoying your holidays? Well, I was made redundant a month back!", etc. Got the idea? You probably remember one or more situations when you felt yourself with both feet deep-sunk in the dish, don't you? With the macaroni and cheese keeping you still in front of your unfortunate victim... Unable to make the next move being afraid to make another blunder.

The sole desire.

Well, truth is not always beautiful and that is sad. But sometimes people decide to step forward, put both feet in the dish voluntarily, so that the bold reality can no longer be ignored by others. Last week I have had the chance to listen to one of them, Blake Mycoskie.

As the following video explains it very well, Blake is the founder of TOMS Shoes, a company that sells one for one fashionable shoes: for any TOMS shoes that you buy, the company gives away one pair to a child in need somewhere around the planet. Blake was on a sabbatical in Argentina when he met with an association which was doing a shoe drops in the country to help young children attend school. That was a revelation to him. He decided to change his life, and create a business to help others:

The reason why I really liked this idea is because Blake's approach is genuine. He has identified a need, developed a business model to address that needs in a sustainable way. He does not rely on charity but on fashion, goodwill, solidarity, world-citizenship... He has created a different path to NGOs. I would not rate one against the other. I just acknowledge the fact that both are valuable, and help make progresses.

So thanks Blake for sharing this great idea. Truth is not always beautiful, but by putting both Toms shoes in the dish of poverty, you have removed sadness from a few children faces. And this is grand.

To read further:

No comments:

Post a Comment