Speaking with a French accent – OS X say

It happens that the OS X voice Thomas is designed for the French language. Let’s have some fun! And then let’s do something useful.

I just answered a fun question over at Ask Different. The questioner wanted to know how to make their Mac speak with French pronunciation.

By happy coincidence I recently stumbled upon someone else having fun with OS X’s say command and different internationalised voices. These voices are designed for use with a specific language and generally hidden from users of other languages.

However, the say command can still be told to use the voice regardless of the current language.

It happens that the voice Thomas is designed for the French language. Let’s have some fun:

say -v Thomas "Hello. I am speaking with a cute French accent."

Say as Thomas

You can use the say command with OS X’s Thomas voice to get French pronunciation.

Try the following command in Applications > Utilities > Terminal.app:

say -v Thomas "Bonjour. Je m'appelle Thomas."

We can wrap the say command up in an Automator service to make this useful.

Automator Service

To create the Automator Service:

1. Launch Automator.app
2. Create a new Service
3. Add a Run AppleScript action
4. Copy and paste in the AppleScript below:

on run {input, parameters}
	do shell script "say -v Thomas " & (quoted form of (input as string))
	return input
end run

5. Save the service as Speak in French

Automator.app say service
Automator.app say service

To use the service:

1. Select text in TextEdit.app or Safari.app
2. Control + Click to reveal the Context Menu
1. Select Services > Speak in French

Et voilà ! We turned a fun distraction into something useful.

Other Languages

Voices tuned for other languages beyond English and French are available. To discover the full list of voices and associated languages:

  1. Open System Preferences.app
  2. Select Dictation & Speech
  3. Select System Voice > Customize…
OS X 10 offers many languages
OS X 10 offers many languages

Filming La Fête nationale

On reviewing the short film of Lyon’s La Fête nationale firework show this morning, I felt it not too bad a sample of the evening. Short, snappy, and a taster of the event.

Getting great photos at night is a challenge. We have tried before and the number of good shots to blurred is heart breaking.

When still images fail, I turn to taking footage. Experience has taught me that footage turns out better in low light, with fast motion, or in difficult situations.

Previously, I would have gone to the fireworks planning to film the entire event. A complete record of the show. Proud in knowing I captured every moment.

Today, I feel that completionist approach acts a good record but is rarely entertaining for others to watch – or even for myself to re-watch.

Lyon’s fireworks tend to run on for a while. The show lasts about 20 minutes and it has felt longer. The city could get away with a much shorter show.

Last night I took my footage, as usual, and decided to edit something together before bed. It was a late night.

On reviewing the short film of Lyon’s La Fête nationale firework show this morning, I felt it a not too bad a sample of the evening.

Short, snappy, and a taster of the event.

La Fête nationale in Lyon

This was our third year celebrating the day in Lyon. We knew were to go and where to expect crowds. The best view of the fireworks is along the east shore of river Saône.

Yesterday, France celebrated it’s national day, La Fête nationale. Also known as Le quatorze juillet and, in English, Bastille Day.

This was our third year celebrating the day in Lyon. We knew where to go and where to expect crowds. The best view of the fireworks is along the east shore of river Saône.

The crowds felt less in number this year. We had room to walk around and generally the atmosphere was good.

If we are still in Lyon next year, I suspect we will try for a picnic on the bank of the river Rhône. The area seemed calmer, more relaxed, and more festive that the amped river Saône crowd.

Bridge spanning the river Rhône in Lyon.
Bridge spanning the river Rhône in Lyon.
Man plays music to the crowds.
Man plays music to the crowds.
Rotisserie chickens wait to be bought.
Rotisserie chickens wait to be bought.
Looking up to the Basilica from Lyon's city centre.
Looking up to the Basilica from Lyon’s city centre.
Police watch the crowds and traffic.
Police watch the crowds and traffic.
Musicians entertain the passing crowds.
Musicians entertain the passing crowds.
Lyon's Basilica remains illuminated until the fireworks begin.
Lyon’s Basilica remains illuminated until the fireworks begin.
Crowds wait for the fireworks.
Crowds wait for the fireworks.
Fireworks explode over the Lyon skyline.
Fireworks explode over the Lyon skyline.
Fireworks explode over the Lyon skyline.
Fireworks explode over the Lyon skyline.
The Basilica's illumination is synchronised with the show.
The Basilica’s illumination is synchronised with the show.
Fireworks explode over the Lyon skyline.
Fireworks explode over the Lyon skyline.
After the fireworks, France's flag colours are projected onto the Halls of Justice.
After the fireworks, France’s flag colours are projected onto the Halls of Justice.

Quietly Waiting

In France we struggle to find a balance between knowing what to wait for and what to tenaciously hound along. Knowing the difference is key and we rarely know for sure.

There are moments when the waiting becomes a papable being in your life. You feel its presence and you feel it consuming you as it grows.

There have been numerous waits since our move to France. We waited in Australia too but there it did not seem so nebulous. Those waits could be reasoned against.

Here we struggle to find a balance between knowing what to wait for and what to tenaciously hound along. Knowing the difference is key and we rarely know for sure.

Looking north on Lyon's rue de la République
Looking north on Lyon’s rue de la République
Looking south on Lyon's rue de la République
Looking south on Lyon’s rue de la République

For the most part, waiting patiently is the right choice. The system does work but it is slow. Attempting to chase will cause delays and stir up problems. Wait, and wait patiently.

This pace forms much of the slower-way-of-life that immigrants claim to seek. So long as you are settled and comfortable where you are waiting, then the wait can be put aside until it is ready. That lazy approach, that beguiling claim, that everything will sort itself out – eventually.

Assuming you are settled is the key. By the time you are settled, you have existed long enough in the system to have suffered, learnt, and adapted. At least you should have adapted; those that do not, or can not, are sure not to remain long.

Looking east on Lyon's pont de la guillotière
Looking east on Lyon’s pont de la guillotière

So what is this wait for? A dossier to move from one person to another until it reaches our hands. When it arrives, we expect to be able to breathe a little more freely. Until then the wait is papable and increasingly oppressive.

Wild Flowers in the Park

Near the bee hotel in Lyon’s parc de la tête d’or is a small section set aside for wild flowers.

Near the bee hotel in Lyon’s parc de la tête d’or is a small section set aside for wild flowers.

At least it is most years. In 2012 I filmed the flowers and bees buzzing around. That footage has been sitting unloved ever since.

Only now have I put together the footage into a short film. The film is below and on my Graham Miln YouTube channel.

This year the same area is mown. No sign of the beautiful display from previous years. A year fallow maybe?

A small section set aside for wild flowers near the bees.
A small section set aside for wild flowers near the bees.
Wild flowers in Lyon's parc de la tête d'or.
Wild flowers in Lyon’s parc de la tête d’or.

Beaujolais Region

We recently enjoyed our first visit to the Beaujolais region of France. This region produces world famous wines and the landscape is a mass of vineyards in every direction.

We recently enjoyed our first visit to the Beaujolais region of France. This region produces world famous wines and the landscape is a mass of vineyards in every direction. Megan recently shared photos of the Oingt, a village in the Beaujolais.

View from Oingt, a village in Beaujolais
View from Oingt, a village in Beaujolais

During our day out I also took my quota of photos and footage. I am a little behind with processing my photos but this morning I made the time to create a short film of what we saw. The result is available on my Graham Miln YouTube channel and embedded below:

Unknown Insect

This afternoon it came into reach and I decided to usher it out of the window. In doing so, I realised that it had wings and two few legs for a spider.

For a couple of days I had assumed the tiny animal clinging to our bathroom wall was a spider.

This afternoon it came into reach and I decided to usher it out of the window. In doing so, I realised that it had wings and two few legs for a spider.

The hooks on the legs are impressive and intimidating.

What is this insect?
What is this insect?

Is it a type of fly? I am not sure.

Fresh Food Market

I am keenly aware of how lucky we are with fresh food markets in France. Below are few photos of the latest produce available in our local market.

I am keenly aware of how lucky we are with fresh food markets in France. Below are few photos of the latest produce available in our local market.

Food market in Lyon, France
Food market in Lyon, France
Food market in Lyon, France
Food market in Lyon, France
Food market in Lyon, France
Food market in Lyon, France
Food market in Lyon, France
Food market in Lyon, France
Food market in Lyon, France
Food market in Lyon, France
Food market in Lyon, France
Food market in Lyon, France
Food market in Lyon, France
Food market in Lyon, France

Nudging on Lyon Metro

Lyon’s underground platforms mark where the train doors will be. At peak times, this causes a problem.

Lyon’s underground platforms mark where the train doors will be. At peak times, this causes a problem.

Those waiting at the station will cluster around those markers and, when the train arrives, be in just the right place to block those wanting to get off the train. The train arrives. The doors open. Those inside are faced by a wall of people who knew exactly where to stand and wait. They have been waiting long enough to be a solid block a few people deep.

What follows is pushing, annoyance, and less than ideal.

To ease this problem TCL, the operators of the underground, have painted hints on the platform about where to stand and who has right of way. They help nudge passengers to do the right thing. They do not work consistently but they at least provide some guidance.

Stand to the side and priority to those getting off.
Stand to the side and priority to those getting off.