When someone says "croissant order", I do NOT think they are talking about math.

Eric: And then, for math, we arrange the numbers in crescendo-ing order.

Me: Huh?

Eric: Wait--Is that not how you say it?

Me: Do you mean the numbers are getting bigger?

Eric: Yeah. Like things get bigger during a crescendo. Like from Band.

Then he looks disgruntled, like I am being unreasonable.

Eric:  Look.  I learned that word in band, and band is taught in English.

To be clear, ENGLISH IS MY SON'S FIRST LANGUAGE.  Sure, his schooling (except Band and Gym) is taught in French, but we only speak English at home. This should not be a debate.

Also. Based on the words he brings home from Band class, I think maybe his band teacher is actually Italian.

Anyway. In French, the word for things getting bigger is apparently French is "en ordre croissant".

I have a lot of experience ordering croissants, and I have to say that it seems perfectly valid to use that phrase to mean "getting bigger". There is clearly a causal relationship there.


I speak just enough French to recognize that English is no longer 100% my son's first language. He will now do things like mess up his plurals. Once I offered him a piece of lined paper, and he looked confused and said "No, Mom, I need a whole paper. What would I do with just a piece?"

Generally, his "errors" are things that are technically correct, but would never actually be said in the way he's saying them. Or he will chose a sort-of-right word in a way that will drastically change the tone of something while preserving it's literal meaning.

I think about this a lot when I read or hear translated words. If my son, who grew up in an English house, still gets the wrong tone from time to time, I realize that across huge cultural gaps, the word "translate" can at best mean "vaguely approximate".

Later, he giggles madly when I lecture him for being on The Snapchat (apparently, there is no "the" in "the snapchat"), and I realize it's not just a French-English thing.

It is eerie to me that even from parent to child--arguably one of the closest relationships that exists--we are still translating. Still struggling to find the right words to not only say what we mean, but also to say who we are. And who we are in relationship with.

So that thing where we want everyone to agree on what the "right" words are? That thing where we ask for a list of which words are the politically correct ones, and which aren't? And then we ask for that list to never change?

That's never going to happen.

The words are supposed to change. That's how a group knows who is listening to them enough to be trusted.

For example, I am clearly not to be trusted with The Snapchat.

Or, as a side note, with the croissants.