Letters to the editor for the week of September 5th 

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We will miss you

I was somewhat sad to read in your last issue (Pique Aug. 29, 2013) that (Bob Barnett was) leaving Pique.

We have been assiduous Pique readers since the summer of 1996, when we bought our first condo in Whistler. We have been living in Mexico City, Geneva (Switzerland), Montreal and finally Vancouver and have been coming to Whistler (almost) every winter and summer since then.

To grab the latest issue of Pique as soon as we arrived in Whistler was as important as getting the milk for the kids.

Living so far away it was important to us to get the latest news of what was happening in Whistler and your articles always had a very accurate and objective way of picturing life and issues in the place we called "home."

Thanks so much for the work you have done — we will truly miss your articles.

We wish you all the best for the future!

Aniela Ernst-Martin

North Vancouver

'The balanced goods'

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Bob (Barnett) for his many years of "Opening Remarks."

If ever I wanted to understand the hot topics of the day, this is where I always got the balanced goods. Bob has an incredible grasp of what makes this place tick and was particularly good at suggesting directions that the community could go to solve problems.

He never seemed to get frustrated when we chose to ignore his advice. I think we will all miss his voice in the community. Good luck Bob and thank you.

Drew Meredith


Thanks for the memory

Congratulations to Bob Barnett for making a great weekly magazine, and best wishes for his brand new life.

Re the cover photo (Pique Aug. 29): I knew at once, by the road signs that it was taken in France. It took me a few seconds to find out that, "the Pique is a 33km-long river in southern France, a tributary of the Garonne River. Its source is in the Pyrennees, on the north side of the Port de Venasque mountain pass. It flows generally northward, entirely within the Haute-Garonne département. It passes through the resort towns of Bagnères-de-Luchon and Cierp-Gaud. It flows into the Garonne in Chaum."

I went to Bagnères several times as a child, then teenager, and never paid attention to the name of the river — we used to go to a very plain restaurant that had in its garden a narrow canal fed by a river (la Pique?). A fenced-in section was full of trout that the cook scooped and showed to the customers before cooking them (the trout, not the customers).

The Garonne River, incidentally, flows by Toulouse and Bordeaux on its way to the Atlantic Ocean. Its estuary (shared with the river Dordogne that come down from the volcanic mountains of Auvergne in central France), called The Gironde, is the largest in Western Europe, being 11-km wide at it widest point —by the town of Pauillac — and 80 km long.

All these names of towns and rivers are the French versions of the original names in Gascon, the historical native language that was widely spoken in rural communities in the late 1950s and is still use today to some extent.

The varieties of French spoken in Toulouse and Bordeaux are a mix of standard French with both Gascon words and French translations of Gascon words, with accents that make them hard to understand to people from other regions (they have their own regional versions of French).

Gascon is one of several dialects of Occitan, the historical language of Southern France. 

The old name of La Pique was Neste. The Garonne was Garona, The Dordogne was Dordonha, Toulouse was Tolosa, Bordeaux was Bordèu...

Name changes were done from the late 1790s on, after the French revolutionary government found out that two-thirds of the French didn't speak French (France was smaller then than now), but not all names were changed, if only because the 19th century was quite turbulent in France, with two self-made emperors bracketing three kings (relatives of Louis XVI), two short revolutions and a quick war with Prussia that was a disaster, especially for Paris.

Today a town, or river, or... has a name that looks nearly like the original (that was easy to pronounce) while a few kilometres away there is a town or river or ...that has its original name, one that is very hard to pronounce — quite a few towns now have bilingual names.

Thanks to Bob for sending me on a nostalgic trip.

J-L Brussac


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