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Abécédaire

The French “Abécédaire” (Abecedarium) is an object of curiosity for English speakers, especially in the United States of America where cursive letters are on the list of endangered species. French students learn their letters using very specific supporting lines and very few variations are allowed, at least during the early years. The main writing tool . . . → Read More: Abécédaire

Le point-virgule (Semicolon)

Let’s discuss the point-virgule, a punctuation sign that is as confusing in French as it is in English. Its usage in French tends to become rarer, but it remains a potent tool for anyone willing to clarify their style.

Is the point-virgule the addition of a point and a comma? Not really. According to . . . → Read More: Le point-virgule (Semicolon)

Soixante-dix or Septante?

Nobody really knows why most French natives use soixante-dix (sixty-ten) to describe 70, quatre-vingts for 80 and quatre-vingt-dix for 90. Even though we take today the base ten counting as obvious, it was not always the case: Lincoln’s Gettisburg address first words are a perfect reminder of that (“Four score and seven years…”). Those numbers . . . → Read More: Soixante-dix or Septante?

Spoken French vs Taught French

Chers tous,

Most French learning methods are more prescriptive than descriptive. They follow the taste of teachers who sometimes put themselves in a position of supreme judge as far as taste and correctness. Unfortunately for the foreign student, the average native speaker rarely thinks like a textbook. Street language develops numerous colloquialisms that never appear . . . → Read More: Spoken French vs Taught French

About the usage of French family names (Les noms de familles)

Chers tous,

Those who read “Le petit Nicolas” by Goscinny and Sempé may have noticed that in schools most male students referred to each other using their last name without any additional title. Until recently, it was common practice to refer this way to your male peers in school, college, armed forces, or companies. Only . . . → Read More: About the usage of French family names (Les noms de familles)

About Slang (l’argot)

Chers tous,

L’argot has been used for century in French. Extremists could even say French itself is derived from a Latin slang. Every historical period produces its own version of slang but the XXth century literature was very prompt at accepting those “dialects” as fair inspiration for writers. Names like Queneau and Dard/ San Antonio . . . → Read More: About Slang (l’argot)

On the use of Frenchglish

Chers tous,

Often, when writing in French, the author has the choice between using an English word or the official French word. For example, is it more appropriate to use “Email” or “Courrier électronique”, “Meeting” or “Réunion”?

Since French, like all languages, can be ambiguous, there is no straight answer. It depends entirely on . . . → Read More: On the use of Frenchglish