De deux choses l’une.

De deux choses l’une.

duh duh showz LEWN. Click below to hear this.*

It’s one or the other.

This is for you binary types! You know who you are. And for those who are now scratching your head in puzzlement–I thought this was a blog about French!–read on.

Here’s what the French means literally: Of two things, one. In other words, Out of two possibilities, one must be true. In the digital world, every character on this page is composed of a combination of eight zeroes and ones. That’s eight “bytes” of information. Think of 0 as “off” and 1 as “on”, like a light switch. It’s either off or on. There is no middle position.

In logic, the same concept is expressed as “a or non-a”. A person is either dead or alive. A thing either is an apple, or is not an apple. An argument is either true or not true (i.e. false).

Never mind that the world at large is not so easily defined, or confined. It is made up of shades of gray. We still tend to think in binary terms. And the French have this clear, everyday expression for it: De deux choses l’une. Because the French, in general, believe in rational, logical thought. You will hear it all the time, if you listen for it.

It clarifies the two sides of an argument. It defines the two options you have available. It declares you right, or wrong. Choose. You are on this side, or that. In, or out. Which will it be?

*Some mobile phones, such as Blackberries, won’t display the audio player. If no player appears, here’s an alternative link to the audio file:



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