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A recent search raised the question of a good translation for the “&” character, sometimes called ampersand in English. The most common translation is “et commercial” due to its ubiquitous usage in the business world. However, its usage was started a long time ago by scribes always looking for ways to save room on a . . . → Read More: &?

Does French lack accuracy?

An easy way to check the precision of a language seems to be to look at the number of words available in dictionaries. According to Wikipedia, Le Littré has about 70,000 words, and a little bit less for the Larousse and the Robert. However the English language article on Wikipedia tells us that the Oxford . . . → Read More: Does French lack accuracy?

Technical dictionaries?

As an engineer, I have to review a lot of technical texts. Finding the right French-English equivalence of terms is sometimes a real challenge that requires a good understanding of the technology in question. Technical dictionaries may be misleading because the words are out of context or the context is only described in broad terms. . . . → Read More: Technical dictionaries?

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?

How much vocabulary do you need to be understandable?

Chers tous,

Most beginners in French seem to struggle with their lack of vocabulary. This is particularly true if French is their only foreign language. The key to learning a new language is to ignore the fact that you know English and think in French with whatever vocabulary you already know. The first lessons might . . . → Read More: How much vocabulary do you need to be understandable?

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)