Quotes Random

Origin of the word “Mignon / minion”

Just learned the origin of the word minion (mignon) which I thought was pretty interesting.  

min·ion [min-yuh n] 


a servile follower or subordinate of a person in power.
a favored or highly regarded person.
a minor official.
Printing. a 7-point type.

Definition of minion: at

Although Henry III valued privacy, he liked to surround himself with a select group of intimate friends, mostly men of his own generation who came to be known as mignons. In the first half of the sixteenth century the word simply meant ‘companions’, but during the second half it acquired a pejorative meaning. The king’s mignons were commonly portrayed as effeminate fops whose morals were as loose as their clothes were extravagant. But the mignons, like the king, have been largely misrepresented. They were essentially members of the lesser provincial nobility who, unlike some richer noblemen of ancient lineage, were totally dedicated to serving the king: they shared his pleasures, copied his manners and helped him assert his authority. Letters written by Henry to his mignons are full of expressions of love baffling to a modern reader. He implores them to love him as dearly as he loves them. They, in reply, assure him of their readiness to sacrifice their lives for him. Henry also gave them affectionate nicknames. Too much, however, should not be read into these epistolary flourishes: hyperbole was fashionable at the time. – See more at:


International Journal Việt Nam

Saigon Stories – Observations of the Week in Saigon

First, let me say that you must take the last entry about the French with a grain of salt. I like France and French people. Parisians still annoy me though. In fact, I’m reading a French book called “les États- Unis aujourd’hui; les maîtres du monde?” (The United States Today; The masters of the world?) by Jacques Portes. I really thought it was going to be a trashing of the US but actually it is extremely interesting to see how this author perceives the US (especially because he is French).It’s not negative at all and basically pretty accurate about the rise of American power, the influence of US culture and so on. For the American, I think it would be a good idea in culture class for students to read books about the US so we can get a better picture about how other nations perceive us. If you don’t speak another language, even a book written in Britain would offer some great insight.

As for my observations this week, I’ve discovered that some white people become spoiled here. As you may know, I work at a very nice country club and we just had our Halloween Party. Many people were surprised to learn that they had to pay extra for their nannies since we had to limit the amount of people we let in to prevent overcrowding. This made a lot of the Caucasians mad since they become so stingy here. Also, we told them they had to make reservations and those that showed up without one were turned away. This really pissed them off since they are used to getting their own way. I swear it’s like a disease among white people here. Their salaries are so high compared to the rest of the population, but they still hate to pay for anything. You would not believe how many ask for some special “deal” to join the club which we cannot do.

In other observations, I’m starting to understand that it takes Vietnamese people about 5 seconds to realize the light has turned green here in Saigon. They aren’t very used to traffic lights here (in fact they don’t pay much attention to them) and their thoughts begin to wander when they actually do stop at a red light. But when the light turns green I want to go! Perhaps, I just need to stop being such an uptight American.

Culture International Journal Việt Nam

Saigon Stories – Vietnamese vs. French people

Another glorious day here in Saigon. I just got back from Parkson (best department store in Saigon) where I go to get Gatorade for only 85 cents per bottle. Those other damn stores charge up to 4 dollars a bottle and so I make it a habit to get to Parksons at least once a week.

Their grocery store is actually like something you would find in the USA. All the fruit is ripe, vegetables not decaying and the staff is actually working! However, one typical Vietnamese custom still pervades there and that is the habit of not wanting to wait in line if you only have one item. I had 8 items and therefore could be in the fast lane if I was in the USA but unfortunately an older woman of about 50 years old only had one ice cream box and did the old “Ditch everyone in line at the grocery store routine cause it’s tradition in Nam.” I’m a pretty laid back guy but sometimes this tradition would peeve me just the slightest bit but being in an entire culture of line-ditchers I guess I would just have to adapt.

I used to believe it was communism that made people forget how to wait in line and cause massive amounts of people to simply push and shove each other to be first. But today in the store it hit me like a bolt of lightning.


And there we have it! The French influenced Vietnam quite a bit and must have taught them how to not stand in line and that pushing and shoving is a much better solution than the queue. I know! Let’s do a compare France and Vietnam.. Wouldn’t that be fun!

1. Sometimes Vietnamese don’t like to work very hard. The French petition the government and change the damn law to make sure they don’t have to work hard.

2. Vietnamese people are friendly and smile. Parisians are a pain in the ass, sourpusses who might be a little nicer if you speak to them in French first, but if not they will be downright unpleasant because maybe they cannot understand English so well. Many Vietnamese cannot understand English very well either but they always smile and will talk to you for as long as you want in Vietnamese even though you don’t understand a damn word. Our maids talk to me almost daily and I’ve never understood a single thing!

3. French people usually only go out with other French people. In this case they are like the Japanese who stick to their own group. Vietnamese aren’t afraid of foreigners as history has shown and will engage in conversation with anyone even if no understanding between the two parties is taking place.

4. Here most French can speak English. I can speak French OK, but when I try with French people they insist to speak English. Yet, they still insist their language is better. Therefore, it makes no damn sense that they want the world to use French, but never speak to non-french people in French! I wonder if I can push some of this useless language out of my brain and replace it with Chinese?

5. It is harder to rent an apartment in France than in Saigon and they have even more paperwork in Paris than the Communist Bureaucracy here in Saigon!!!! hahahahahahaha.
Ok, I’m done picking on the French for today. I feel the urge for some Freedom Fries for dinner.

E-mails Japan - 日本

E-mail to Sophie 9.19.2004

Hello Sophie!

Nice to hear from you.  Congratulations with your new job, I hope it goes
well and that you enjoy it.

As for me, I’m still living in Japan but am moving to Vietnam October 1st.
I find the business environment much better there and hope to obtain a job
in importing, exporting or consulting there.  I traveled to Vietnam last
March with a friend and found that I truly loved the place.  I feel it will
give me more of a chance to develop and learn another language.  Aussi, il
y’a bcp des gens qui comprennent le francais depuis comme tu sais, Vietnam
c’etait une colonie francais.  I also have some Vietnamese friends who will
help me to adjust to the new environment.  I’m a little nervous to be
leaving the comforts of Tokyo however…..

I’m glad we can keep in touch Sophie!  I wish you the best!!!!


> Cher Matthew,
> Le temps passe et on découvre que cela fait des mois que l’on n’a pas
> donné de nouvelles à des personnes auxquels on pense pourtant toujours
> régulièrement!
> J’espère que tu vas bien et quand je pense à toi je me demande ce que tu
> fais et si tu te trouves toujours au Japon. Dis-moi…
> Je dois t’annoncer que ma vie va changer autour du 15 octobre. Je vais
> être la maman d’un petit garçon, moitié normand moitié ukrainien. Tout se
> passe bien mais je ne travaille plus et ne pense pas retravailler avant
> l’été prochain.
> A très bientôt de tes nouvelles, je t’embrasse et te souhaite bon courage
> dans toutes tes activités.
> Sophie.

E-mails Japan - 日本

E-mail to Mathias 8.20.2004


My classes at Waseda are finally finished and I’m very happy to not have to
go to those boring lectures anymore.  I think it’s time to study Japanese on
my own without the teachers troubling me with too many tests that I always
received a bad grade on.  : )

Now, I’m just teaching English at night, going to the gym and looking for a
job in Vietnam.  I have some friends there and think it would be a great
place to live due to the cheap prices and proximity of the ocean!  Tokyo is
too crowded for me and I need some peace and quiet.  My visa is until
October 10th so I’m hoping to find a job before then but it’s looking to be
a little difficult.  I’m positive that I’ll be in Vietnam in October though.

Your girlfriends English is very good and she made mistakes on just a few
parts.  I’ve corrected them and the document is now perfect.  I wish her the
best of luck in LA but tell her to be careful because LA can be a little
dangerous.  Also, eating too much American food makes people fat.

Finally, the election is coming up and my state OHIO is very important in
this election and the presidential candidates are spending a lot of time
there trying to persuade voters.  I’ve actually registered to vote and
hopefully my vote will help get that Putain Bush out of office forever.

Take care of yourself and good luck with your studies and job!!!
Vive le france!



> Salut M !!
> comment ca va ? Les cours a Waseda se sont bien termines?
> Pour moi tout va bien, ce sont les vacances d’ete, j’ai fini mon stage
> continue mon job pour gagner un peu d’argent. Tu fais quoi en ce moment?
> J’ai une faveur a te demander. Je sais plus si je t’en avais parle mais ma
> copine, Maki, a passe des examens pour faire un stage aux USA d’un an.
> vient d’etre acceptee et va aller a Los Angeles a partir d’octobre. Le
> probleme c’est qu’elle galere un peu en ce moment a cause de tous les
> papiers qu’elle doit remplir pour le visa et autres…
> Est ce que tu pourrais corriger le document ci-joint, c’est super
> pour elle? Si il y a des phrases qui te paraissent bizarre n’hesite pas a
> les changer, d’apres ce que j’ai compris ce document est tres important
> pour obtenir les papiers necessaires pour partir.
> Et si tu peux me le renvoyer corrige avant dimanche, je te serais
> extremment reconnaissant…Comme d’habitude tu seras mon sauveur, cher ami
> !!
> a bientot ,
> mathias