french spotlight

stltoday.com
Spotlight: What's the right way to say 'Gravois'? Answer may not be what you think : Lifestyles
Changes in French language never made it 18th-century St. Louis
By Lee Enterprises

If you’ve lived in St. Louis for any length of time, at least since before phones could give directions to drivers, there is a good chance someone has pulled up and asked how they could get to “Grah-vwah.”
They mean “Gravv-oy.”

Surely, these sophisticated sojourners must have headed on their way with the conviction that St. Louisans don’t know how to pronounce their own streets.

Little do they know that no matter how you look at it, we can’t hardly be wrong.

First, linguistic professors will be the first to tell you that all cultures change the way foreign words are said.

Kirk Hazen, of the University of West Virginia, said any tourist who says a city is mispronouncing its own street and places names “is being remarkably presumptuous.”

He noted that “once we borrow words into English, we use our own phonology, which is what we call the rules system (of a language).”

So that means saying Goethe Street as “go-thee” instead of “gurr-tah” is acceptable, just like when New Yorkers say Houston Street like “How-ston.”

But all of that may miss a far more elementary fact:

Saying Gravois as “Gravv-oy” instead of “Grah-vwah” just might indeed be the correct way to say it.

Annie Smart, chairwoman of the French department at St. Louis University, said the way St. Louisans say “Gravois” probably is the proper pronunciation, especially if you’re asking a Frenchman who arrived in the Mississippi Valley before 1790.

“Gravois,” that popular name for streets, roads, creeks and mills, first came to America as a surname well before the French Revolution of the 1780s. Smart explained that the suffix “ois” actually was pronounced “oy” instead of “wah” before the revolution.

“In old French, the ‘o-i-s’ was pronounced with a twang, ‘oy,’” said Smart, also explaining why folks in this area pronounce Illinois and Courtois the way they do.

The original pronunciation might have disappeared in France after the revolution, when there was a concerted effort to standardize the French phonology. Pronunciations were officially changed and 30 or so dialects were standardized to produce a common tongue, she said.

Smart said these changes in France did not travel much across the Atlantic Ocean, which led to the continuation, with little or no change, of Quebec French, Louisiana French and Paw Paw French.

“And that type of French, Paw Paw, was spoken around here, centered in the Old Mines/Ste. Genevieve area,” Smart said.

{Meet} Sylvia French-Hodges of HodgePodge Marketing

It’s “{Meet} our Members Friday” and this week we’re spotlighting Sylvia French-Hodges of HodgePodge Marketing.

We love showcasing our NCBN members and giving you a chance to {Meet} them. We think you’ll enjoy this series and getting to know Sylvia!

{Meet} Sylvia French-Hodges of HodgePodge Marketing

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1. How long have you been blogging?

I have been blogging for about four years now (personally for four and professionally for about two).

2. What do you blog about?

For my personal blog, I tend to write reflections on some of the day-to-day things I experience. Professionally, I have written a variety of blogs on different topics. Most recently, I was writing for a real estate developer who owns several properties, so my blog posts were geared towards residents of those developments and could be anything from picking the perfect perennials to hosting a block party to searching for the right home for you.

3. Where are you blogging from in NC?

Raleigh, NC

4. Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging to have an online journal. I have always enjoyed writing and wanted to get my thoughts out into the ether.

5. Out of all the posts you’ve written, which one (or two) would you pick as your favorite?

That’s a toughy, but I am particularly fond of these two: “sleep studies: r they worth it? (part 1)” & “sleep studies: r they worth it? (part 2)” and “Hang in there Kitty.”

6. What blog(s) do you love? (Please include links)

I love Lesley Carter’s Blog “Bucket List Publications

7. What’s one piece of advice you’d share with your fellow bloggers?

Be open to all of the experiences around you. If you find yourself thinking, “hmmm, I’d like to write about that.” you should. Also, don’t be so worried about the readership numbers. I used to get very worried about whether my blogs were being seen, but now I just focus on being the best writer I can be.

8. What are you looking forward to as a blogger in the upcoming months?

I am working with a few new clients, and I hope to help them become more successful through writing their blogs. One is a dog trainer and the other has developed an amazing recreational boat that goes just about anywhere and fits in a backpack.

9. Where can we find you on the web?

10. And finally, is there anything else you’d like to add that you want people to know about you – professional affiliations, any other place they can find you, etc.?

My professional background is in corporate communications, marketing and graphic design. My company name is HodgePodge Marketing and I help small to mid-size companies with a variety of professional services including: social media strategies and campaigns, e-marketing, collateral creation and graphic design, and promotional products.


If you’re an NCBN member and would like to be featured in the next issue of our {Meet} the members series, please let us know!

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The Day I Saw Your Heart at the NEWPORT BEACH FILM FESTIVAL!

My best friend Brittany has been running and planning an event for the French Spotlight at the Newport Beach Film Festival that’ll be held on Tuesday, May 1st at 8:15PM. I just found out today that Et Soudain, Tout Le Monde Me Manque (The Day I Saw Your Heart) is opening! The film stars Mélanie Laurent, written and directed by Jennifer Devoldère, and scored by (drumroll, please!) Nathan Johnson! I’m super thrilled this is playing the event!

If you’re in the Orange County, Newport Beach or L.A. area (or even if you’re not!) you should definitely come to the event! Ticket includes the film, an after-party with live entertainment and an open bar!

More information? >>>> Find tickets HERE

I can’t wait for this night! :o)