Once in a Blue Moon
- Tous les trente-six du mois
- This is the French expression for "once in a blue moon". Curiously,
blue moons DO occur, on the night of "no moon", once every 28 days. Whereas, no
month has a 36th day! The number 36 crops up quite a bit in French as a "nobre
indéterminé et avec un valeur d'intensif" - for example, "to see
stars" is "voir trente-six chandelles". In 1895 Georges Polti published a book
entitled "Les trente-six situations dramatiques", translated in 1916 by The
Writer, Inc (Boston) as "The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations".
- Point du Jour
- This is the motto of Lowestoft, England's most easterly town. The expression
means "day break" and (not unreasonably) the town expected to host a number of
people waiting to see the first British sunrise of the new millennium, on 1st
January 2000. However, because the earth is tilted on its axis, the sun rises
due east only in September. By January it is more to the south-east. So the
first part of Britain to be struck by the sun's rays on 1st January turned out to be the South Foreland, in Kent, where the new millennium dawned at 0758 GMT followed six minutes later by Lowestoft.
- Point vierge
- Thomas Merton uses this expression on pages 128 and 155 of "Confessions of
a Guilty Bystander". He offers no translation, but speaks of the pre-dawn,
when there is an open-ness to all the most wonderful possibilities ("the gate
of heaven is everywhere").
- On Meaning and Reference
- Frege's 1892 study "On Meaning and Reference" notes that the planet Venus
may be called "the morning star" or "the evening star" depending upon where in
the world you are. Similarly, I say the French for "French time is one hour in
advance of GMT is NOT "L'heure en France est une heure en avance...." but rather
"L'heure en Angleterre est une heure en retard...." It all depends upon your
- Cast your bread upon the waters....
- For an interesting comparison of how to translate images, compare Chapters
11 and 12 of the Book Ecclesiastes in AV (King James) and TEV (The Good
- Signs and Symbols
- What's the difference? See pages 105 and 106 of a biography of Walter Benjamin
by Julian Roberts (Cambridge University Library 749.37.c.95.55). Unlike a
sign, a symbol is not referential - it does not point to something, it simply
is something. The Ancient Greeks spoke of a symbolon while the Romans
used a tessera - half a broken bone or pot, which may be united with the other half
in order to prove the identity of the bearer.