A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.

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?

Why is French still such a popular language to learn?

Among the hundreds of languages available, French is still one of the most popular choices among foreign language learners. The origin of this popularity comes in great part from the fact that until very recently, French was the lingua franca of the elites. As recently as 150 years ago, most French citizens spoke a regional . . . → Read More: Why is French still such a popular language to learn?

Eternal French texts: “Le Cid”

“Nous partîmes cinq cents; mais par un prompt renfort Nous nous vîmes trois mille en arrivant au port,”

“Ô rage ! ô désespoir ! ô vieillesse ennemie ! N’ai-je donc tant vécu que pour cette infamie ?”

“Rodrigue, as-tu du coeur?”

“À vaincre sans péril, on triomphe sans gloire.”

“Le combat cessa faute de combattants.”

. . . → Read More: Eternal French texts: “Le Cid”

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

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 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)

Eternal French texts: “Le corbeau et le renard”

French culture, like most cultures, has a set of poems and texts that are totally ingrained in the popular knowledge of the native speakers. Those texts can be referred to without much detail since most people would know exactly what it is about. A typical American equivalent example is the reference to “We are not . . . → Read More: Eternal French texts: “Le corbeau et le renard”

About Accents

Chers tous,

Believe it or not, accents in French can be as tricky to native French writers as it is to foreign French writers. The rule of using a é for a /e/ or a è for a /a/ does not always work, as in “je protégerai”, where the é is pronounced /a/ in most . . . → Read More: About Accents