Everything is Illuminated *

Well, in the last couple of posts I rather forgot my self-imposed brief here--to look at a word, not several. But words always lead to more words....

I had lunch a few days ago in a popular café on the Quai of the River Saône. As we left, one of my companions said,  "C'est très branché ici," which puzzled me until she explained that branché meant "hip," "trendy."

Later I checked the dictionary, and realised that I already knew this word--but from a completely different context. Or rather, in its practical rather than its metaphorical application.

Early in my sojourn here I was grappling with the modem provided by Orange, a thing called a Livebox.  It refused to work, although I read the instructions over and over. Among the words appearing most often in said instructions were brancher and débrancher, which I quickly learnt meant to plug in and to unplug, switch on and switch off, connect and disconnect. Eventually, after taking modem, computer, and all to an Orange advice centre, and being assured it should work, and coming back and finding it still didn't, I had to call the phone help line, and ended up arranging for a technician to come to the apartment. (I can't help saying how proud I was of managing to do all this in French). It turned out that my internet connection, which was meant to come through a telephone jack in the wall, hadn't been branché at the central office or mains or whatever it is. The chap went off and did something back at the dispenser of magical airwaves, and voilà! everything started to work.

And again voilà! Of course! Branché -- "switched on," "plugged in," and therefore, trendy. Sort of analogous, but obviously not completely so, to the English expression "turned on."

You can use brancher of language itself; en langage branché means "in trendy slang." There are also expressions like ça ne me branche pas, "I'm not very keen on that," and se brancher avec quelqu'un, "to get in contact with someone." Hmmmm...I wonder if this last expression has entered the murky waters of ambiguity, like the American  English phrase "to hook up with" ? It's best avoided until I know the ramifications, perhaps.

In the meantime, I have to read more instruction manuals to learn how to brancher a TV to the Livebox, now we've put together the Ikea TV stand and the Ikea TV-watching sofa.  Well, I'm using "we" loosely here....I studied the diagrams and passed my husband the widgets as needed; he did all the work. I couldn't risk aggravating my back problems, now could I?

*Apologies to Jonathan Safran Foer.