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Passerelles ep. 1, Quiz 56: crise de la quarantaine

    Do you know how to say “midlife crisis” in French? I love that their way implies it might not just be a once and done thing, maybe you have it every decade! Dive into that phrase and “autour de”, “il existe plein”, & “notamment”. Hear them all in this moderately fast clip from Passerelles!

    This clip is from Passerelles Episode 1. Listen and fill in what you hear below. Read more and find a translation below. Listen to the full episode here.

    18 seconds, 40 words

    This audio sample and transcription is from Passerelles ep. 1. We do not own the content. Listen to the entire episode

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    expressions ' ',enexiste.notammentcrisecelledécrirecrisesexistentiellesapparaissentpériode.
    expressionsautour l'âge l'anniversaire,enexisteplein.parlenotammentcrisequarantaineoudecellecinquantainedécrirecrisesexistentiellesquiapparaissentpendantcettepériodevie.

    At any rate

    What’s opening up for you with this clip?

    The snippet in English

    Find a translation of this snippet here, how much of this did you hear?

    Des expressions autour de l’âge et de l’anniversaire, il en existe plein. On parle notamment de la crise de la quarantaine ou de celle de la cinquantaine pour décrire les crises existentielles qui apparaissent pendant cette période de la vie.

    There are plenty of expressions to describe age and birthdays. For example, the term “midlife crisis” is used to describe the existential crises that arise during this period of life.

    The above translation from Deepl. Source

    What does “autour de” mean?

    “Autour de” is a French preposition which, when directly translated, means “around” or “about.” It’s used to indicate a physical or metaphorical sense of surrounding, revolving, or being centered on something.

    Physical Surrounding: In its most literal sense, “autour de” can describe something that encircles or surrounds another thing. Example: “Les enfants jouaient autour de l’arbre.” (The children were playing around the tree.)

    Center of Attention/Topic: When used in a more abstract or metaphorical sense, “autour de” can denote the main subject or focus of a discussion or thought. Example: “Il y a eu beaucoup de discussions autour de ce sujet.” (There has been a lot of discussion about this topic.)

    Approximation: In some contexts, it can also be used to give a sense of approximation, especially concerning time. Example: “Je te retrouverai autour de midi.” (I’ll meet you around noon.)

    Gathering: The phrase can also depict a gathering or coming together of people or things. Example: “Toute la famille s’est réunie autour de la table.” (The whole family gathered around the table.)

    Variations and Related Expressions:

    • “Tourner autour de”: This means “to revolve around” or “to circle around.” It can be used both literally (like a planet around a star) or figuratively (like when someone is being evasive in a conversation).
    • “Se rassembler autour de”: This means “to rally around” or “to unite around.” It often denotes a shared cause or purpose.

    The idea of gathering “autour de la table” (around the table) is culturally significant in France, where meal times often serve not just as feeding sessions but as critical family bonding moments. It’s not just about the food but the conversation, laughter, and shared memories.

    “Autour de” is a versatile phrase in French that goes beyond its literal meaning of “around.” Whether discussing physical surroundings, a topic of conversation, or the idea of coming together, understanding the nuances of “autour de” can greatly enrich one’s expression in French.

    What does “il en existe plein” mean?

    The phrase “il en existe plein” is a colloquial way of saying “there are many of them” or “there are plenty of them” in English. It’s a casual way to stress the abundance of something, especially when you don’t want to specify the exact number.


    • “Tu cherches des cafés dans ce quartier? Il en existe plein!” (You’re looking for cafes in this neighborhood? There are plenty of them!)
    • “Je ne sais pas quel livre choisir; il en existe plein sur ce sujet.” (I don’t know which book to choose; there are so many on this subject.)


    • “Il y en a plein” is another common way to convey the same idea.
    • “Il y en a beaucoup” is a bit more formal but also widely used.

    French speakers, especially the younger generation, might use “plein” in casual conversations to express the idea of “a lot” or “many.” It gives a relaxed tone to the conversation, while “beaucoup” sounds a bit more neutral.

    In conclusion, “il en existe plein” is a relaxed way to highlight abundance or multitude in French. While it’s more casual, understanding and using it will make you sound more natural when conversing with native speakers.

    What does “notamment” mean?

    The word “notamment” is one of those French adverbs that can make a learner’s sentence sound more refined and fluent. It’s used frequently in both spoken and written French.

    At a Glance “Notamment” translates to “especially,” “particularly,” or “notably” in English. It’s utilized to specify one or more examples within a broader context, often to highlight a particular point or detail among others.

    When you’re discussing a broader topic and want to pinpoint certain specifics without listing everything, “notamment” is your go-to word. For example, if you’re talking about fruits you like and want to emphasize a few in particular, you’d use “notamment” to do so.


    • “J’aime les fruits, notamment les pommes et les bananes.” (I like fruits, especially apples and bananas.)
    • “Il a voyagé dans plusieurs pays d’Europe, notamment en France et en Italie.” (He traveled to several countries in Europe, notably France and Italy.)
    • “Notre école offre de nombreuses activités sportives, notamment le football, le tennis et la natation.” (Our school offers many sports activities, particularly football, tennis, and swimming.)

    Nuances: The strength of “notamment” is in its ability to introduce specifics that are of notable importance or relevance without implying that the list is exhaustive. It’s a way of saying, “among other things or examples.”

    Other words in the same vein:

    • “Particulièrement” (particularly): This can be used similarly to “notamment,” though it might place a slightly stronger emphasis on the examples given.
    • “Surtout” (especially/mainly): This word often indicates a stronger preference or emphasis on the example provided compared to the others.

    In professional and academic contexts, “notamment” is quite prevalent. It’s a word that pops up in reports, presentations, and discussions to provide specificity. Mastering its use can give a more polished tone to one’s French.

    In conclusion, “notamment” is a handy adverb that helps French speakers emphasize certain details within a broader context. By integrating it into your vocabulary, you can enhance the nuance and clarity of your statements.

    What does “la crise de la quarantaine ou de celle de la cinquantaine” mean?

    “La crise de la quarantaine” and “la crise de la cinquantaine” are phrases used in French to describe what in English we often refer to as “midlife crisis.” These terms highlight the age around which this crisis tends to manifest, with “quarantaine” pointing to the 40s and “cinquantaine” to the 50s. Let’s delve deeper into the essence of these terms and their cultural significance.

    La crise de la quarantaine:

    • This term, which translates to “the crisis of the forties,” speaks to the emotional and psychological challenges that some individuals face when they reach their 40s. It can be a time of introspection, doubt, and significant change. People might start to reflect on their life’s accomplishments, question the path they’re on, and grapple with the realization of aging and its implications.

    La crise de la cinquantaine:

    • Translated as “the crisis of the fifties,” this is akin to “la crise de la quarantaine,” but the introspection may be even deeper. By this age, individuals are often coming to terms with entering the latter half of their lives. There’s a heightened awareness of mortality, regrets might weigh heavier, and there’s often a stronger desire to make the remaining years count.

    Cultural Insights: In many cultures, including French culture, the concept of a midlife crisis is recognized and acknowledged. Whether it’s a sudden urge to buy a sports car, make a dramatic career change, or reevaluate personal relationships, these age-linked crises are often seen as a natural part of human development. They mark the transition from early to late adulthood, accompanied by all the introspection and potential transformation that entails.

    While the specifics of how these crises manifest can vary based on individual and cultural factors, the underlying themes are universal. In French literature, cinema, and art, you’ll find numerous references to these life transitions, demonstrating the cultural recognition of these age-related introspections.

    In English, we often use the catch-all term “midlife crisis” to describe this phenomenon, regardless of whether it occurs in one’s 40s or 50s. But the French, with their penchant for specificity, differentiate between the two decades, giving us both “la crise de la quarantaine” and “la crise de la cinquantaine.”

    In essence, these phrases reflect a shared human experience across cultures: the reevaluation of one’s life and purpose as we age. Understanding these terms is not just about learning French vocabulary but about tapping into the universal journey of life and self-discovery.

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    Do you know how to say “midlife crisis” in French? I love that their way implies it might not just be a once and done thing, maybe you have it every decade! Dive into that phrase and “autour de”, “il existe plein”, & “notamment”. Hear them all in this moderately fast clip from Passerelles!

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