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September 15, 1962

Just Words

Author Affiliations

New York City

JAMA. 1962;181(11):1014. doi:10.1001/jama.1962.03050370082023

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To the Editor:—  When (some 40 years ago) I began my graduate work at the Sorbonne, I had a matronly landlady who took a warm interest in my personal affairs. One day she asked me about my mother, and I reported: "Elle est morue." Instead of granting me the cozy sympathy I craved, my land-lady burst out laughing. Instead of stating that my mother had died, I had announced that my mother was a codfish. I have never again made a mistake in a French irregular verb. When I am not certain, I just say something else. (By the way, my mother had a wonderful sense of humor and won't mind my telling this story.)I did not suggest that "Il pleut dans mon coeur" means anything but "It is raining in my heart." I alluded to the metaphoric appeal of phrases like "weeping skies" by quoting the information that

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