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All articles from the Français category



Crazy language.

From the website of: La Cathédrale de Maguelone:

L’association les Compagnons de Maguelone est une association laïque régie par la loi de 1901. Elle a été créée le 06 mai 1969. Son siège social est basé au Domaine de Maguelone, 34250 Palavas les Flots.

At the time I visited and read this, I thought "créée" was a typo, however I was gently told that it's not!

Further investigation reveals that it's the complement object direct (COD) of the participe passé of the verb: creer. Stated in English: "The past participle agrees in gender and in number with a preceding direct object. In other words, if the direct object pronoun is feminine, add an e to the end of the past participle"

Crazy language.

Aural Ambiguity

Listen to this word in French:   speaker icon

Know what it means?

Are you sure?

Me neither. At this point in my life, I can read and write in French and speak it real good. And my accent isn't bad at all. But my comprehension still sucks.

When a person speaks to me in French, I hear only jibberish. Lately, it's become even worse because I (and I'm sure that all my French friends feel this way too) should have gotten my comprehension down by now!

I blame my ears, the rest of me, and literally everything else in the world but most of all, I blame the language itself! Click below to hear the French for each of the following words:

  • Green   speaker icon
  • Toward/Towards   speaker icon
  • (Poetic) Verse   speaker icon
  • (Drinking) Glass   speaker icon
  • Worm   speaker icon
  • Squirrel Fur   speaker icon

See? Who can learn comprehension when every word is the same? :-)


Stop! Ca Suffit! poster.

There is a pretty big public awareness campaign going on in France right now; it's an effort to build awareness of the apparently endless harassment that some people experience when taking French public transit. I say 'apparently' because as of yet, not a single woman has harrassed me on the tram. C'est domage...

The ad above depicts the progression of come-ons a woman can expect to hear as she navigates the public transport system:

  • Mademoiselle...;
  • You are charming. (formal speech)
  • Is that little skirt for me?
  • You know that you're good? (informal speech)
  • I going to hold you.
  • Answer, dirty bitch!

From a grammar and translation perspective, it's the Réponds sale chienne! line that I find most interesting. It's an instruction. otherwise known in grammar circles as the Imperative. In English I can say (You) Get up! or (You) Sit down or (You) Answer me! All of those are imperative and the pronoun is not required. In French as you may know, there are two ways to make any sentence in the 2nd person singular - formally or informally. Obviously, if you're going to call a woman a dirty bitch, you're not going to use the formal: Répondez vous, sale chienne! You will instead say: Réponds (toi) sale chienne! Just as in English, the personal pronoun "toi" is not required. Note that in French, the object personal pronoun (te, toi) always goes in front of the verb EXCEPT if the the statement is Imperative, as it is here.

Poster on the tram of: Vous souhaite un bon voyage

Where this construction REALLY gets interesting is the statement I saw on a sign while on the tram: Vous souhaite un bon voyage. Translate that too quickly and you'll see: You wish ( maybe?) a good trip. Errr, what's that? But note the conjugation...if it were really "you wish me" (formal) then it would be vous me souhaitez... So then when do you conjugate the verb 'souhaiter' in the form 'souhaite'? Only in the first and third person singular. (I or we)

Well, a sign at the train station isn't going to say "I wish you a good trip" and the sign didn't say the more formal Nous souhaitons un bon voyage So then the only possible meaning is: On vous souhaite un bon voyage (and again, we leave off the optional "On")

We wish you a good trip.

Because "On" is the subject and "vous" is the object expressed a personal pronoun so therefore must go in front of the verb since it is an indicative sentence!

I should give my teacher a hug. :-)

Une meilleure methode!

C'est fantastique! C'est plus facile d'apprendre le français avec le texte en anglais, et les notes de bas de page, en plus il y a un index anglais-français! Je le conseille à ceux qui veulent améliorer leur français par la lecture.

Pic of a Bilingue french-english paperback novel cover.   Pic of a Bilingue french-english paperback novel. 

Pic of a Bilingue french-english paperback novel cover.

Pic of a Bilingue french-english paperback novel.

(Click on the images to enlarge.)

Et bien, On trouve que vous êtes arrogants, brailleurs, libidineux, lâches, incultes ... et sale.

Astérix & Obélix: Au service de sa Majesté (Astérix and Obélix: God Save Britannia) is one of my favourite French comedy movies. I can't believe it's rated only 5.3 on IMDB. That has to be because either North American reviewers don't understand all the hilarious references (to A Clockwork Orange, to Star Wars, English Rugby, etc.) and/or the French people's interesting take on the concept of humour. (France awarded a "Chevalier, Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur" to Jerry Lewis for crying out loud.)

Here is my favourite scene; I've memorized it should I ever need to use it on a French person. Here the "Brit" Jolitorax is telling Asterix and Obelix how the Brits regard the French, Keep in mind that this is only after Goudurix (the kid in the background) fired the first insult. I put the video at the exact spot of my favourite line, but rewind it a little bit if you want to hear the kid say his little insult first.

It's a hilarious movie, especially they way they used French actors to play Brits and then instructed them to totally murder the French accent. Imagine seeing a great French actress like Catherine Deneuve (who plays the queen of England) speaking French like a schoolgirl from south-western Ontario.

Check out this scene. Here as well as in every scene they are in, Miss Macintosh and Ophélia (played by Charlotte Le Bon who is actually from Quebec) absolutely murder the accent better than anyone else in the movie.

Super Funny Berlitz Commercial

German Coastguard Sinking - Learn English Commercial

The other day, a friend sent me a link to this commercial. For something so "clean" it's just about the funniest thing I've ever heard. (Love it when he slaps the kid on the back!) I just went back this morning and the link is dead! Oh NO! Too much traffic to the site no doubt. Luckily I was able to retrieve it from my "Temporary Internet Files" cache.

And now years later I realize that I no longer have to store a 30 megabyte flasdh .swf file on my web server; the video is available on Youtube for all to see.

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Maybe read No Big Deal, my favourite story I ever wrote.

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