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sctroyenne
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Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Spanish, Irish

 
 Message 1129 of 1317
11 September 2014 at 11:56pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:

You can see lots of es forms that became ê or é, for example:
bestise -> bêtise, mesprisent -> méprisent, elles
mesmes
-> elles-mêmes and so on. You can also see that the imperfect ending
has changed: tenoit -> tenait.


All circumflex accents in French are actually dropped s (hospital --> hôpital, isle -->
île, etc). I'm surprised to not see "ne point" instead of "ne pas".

But yeah, French from that era is much more approchable than English from that era, at
least to me. No need to be afraid of trying Molière, the Lumières, etc! I also think
that some words that we gained from the Norman invasion stuck around in English that
fell into disuse in French so we may have a bit of an advantage on some old vocabulary.
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Mork the Fiddle
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86 posts - 158 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Norwegian, Latin, Ancient Greek

 
 Message 1130 of 1317
12 September 2014 at 12:34am | IP Logged 
Montaigne interests me in part because his essays link to the writings of Seneca and Plutarch. Over the years I pecked away at the 16th century spelling, but recently the game wearied me. A decent translation into modern French exists, so I rely on that. The flavor of Montaigne's philosophy comes through, but without orthographic interference.
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Sizen
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Canada
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165 posts - 347 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Catalan, Spanish, Japanese, Ukrainian, German

 
 Message 1131 of 1317
12 September 2014 at 4:57am | IP Logged 
What a coincidence. I just started a degree in linguistics (sciences du langage) and
one of my classes this semester is on the varieties of French spoken in North-America,
which has me reading a fair bit of French from the 16th and 17th century.

One of my favourite things I've seen so far is the use of the old base 20 counting
system.

"Et toute chose que l'on y sème n'est que deux ou trois jours à venir sur terre. Le
bled y croist si bien que j'ay compté en une espy de bled six vingtz grains,
mesme grain que celluy de France, lequel avoit faict semer Jacques Quartier. Et la
terre est si bonne que si vous le semez en mars, il sera mûr à la my aoust."

While texts from this period in time are still rather legible (thanks 17th century
grammarians for the bang-up job you did of preserving the "correct" French), I seem to
remember seeing some 12th or 13th century French in Iversen's log that left me quite
perplexed (Don't quote me on the date, it's a fuzzy memory). I found that my knowledge
of other Romance languages helped me more than my knowledge of French in that case.
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rdearman
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 Message 1132 of 1317
12 September 2014 at 10:16am | IP Logged 
Sizen wrote:

One of my favourite things I've seen so far is the use of the old base 20 counting
system.


It is only "old" in the colonies, it is in active use in France.
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Sizen
Diglot
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Canada
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165 posts - 347 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Catalan, Spanish, Japanese, Ukrainian, German

 
 Message 1133 of 1317
12 September 2014 at 4:21pm | IP Logged 
Well, "quatre-vingts" is still dominant even here in Canada, but "deux-vingts", "six-vingts", "huit-vingts", etc,
have all fallen out of use. So while 80 is still there, the rest of the system has died off.
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Arnaud25
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France
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129 posts - 234 votes 
Speaks: French*, English
Studies: Russian

 
 Message 1134 of 1317
12 September 2014 at 4:24pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
Also, aucuns seems to be used with a positive meaning here. It's actually pretty cool to see the evolution of French writing.
It's still in use in the form of "d'aucuns":
http://bdl.oqlf.gouv.qc.ca/bdl/gabarit_bdl.asp?id=4589

rdearman wrote:
Sizen wrote:

One of my favourite things I've seen so far is the use of the old base 20 counting
system.


It is only "old" in the colonies, it is in active use in France.

Partially in use: quatre-vingts (80) and quatre-vingt dix (90) are the only remnants, afaik. We don't say trois-vingts for soixante (60)
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emk
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 Message 1135 of 1317
12 September 2014 at 4:38pm | IP Logged 
sctroyenne wrote:
All circumflex accents in French are actually dropped s (hospital --> hôpital, isle --> île, etc). I'm surprised to not see "ne point" instead of "ne pas".

My favorite transformation so far is c'estoit -> c'était.

Mork the Fiddle wrote:
Montaigne interests me in part because his essays link to the writings of Seneca and Plutarch. Over the years I pecked away at the 16th century spelling, but recently the game wearied me. A decent translation into modern French exists, so I rely on that. The flavor of Montaigne's philosophy comes through, but without orthographic interference.

The spelling doesn't bother me much—my French is strong enough that I can correct for that sort of thing without too much effort. I have more trouble with the vocabulary. But the biggest problem is sometimes just getting myself into the head of a 16th century French noble. The cultural gap can be huge. (Though it's nothing like the cultural gap between me and the Middle Egyptians—it's hard to make sense of Egyptian religious writings even in translation.)

Sizen wrote:
One of my favourite things I've seen so far is the use of the old base 20 counting system.

OK, six vingtz is very cool. Thank you.

rdearman wrote:
It is only "old" in the colonies, it is in active use in France.

Soisante-dix and quatre-vingt-dix still exist in France, but six vingtz is definitely rather unusual. :-)

Anyway, here's another fun passage, this one for language geeks. He's talking about the pleasures of translating an interesting book written in an atrocious style, as compared to risks of translating truly elegant prose:

Quote:
Entre autres, Pierre Bunel, homme de grande reputation de sçavoir en son temps, ayant arresté quelques jours à Montaigne en la compaignie de mon pere avec d'autres hommes de sa sorte, luy fit present, au desloger, d'un livre qui s'intitule « Theologia nautralis sive liber creaturarum magistri Raymondi de Sabonde. » Et par ce que la langue Italienne et Espaignolle estoient familieres à mon pere, et que ce livre et basti d'un Espagnol barragoiné en terminaisons Latines, il esperoit qu'avec un bien peu d'aide il en pourroit faire son profit…

Or, quelques jours avant sa mort, mon pere, ayant de fortune rencontré ce livre soubs un tas d'autres papiers abandonnez, me commanda de le luy mettre en François. Il faict bon traduire les autheurs comme celuy-là, on il n'y a guiere que la matiere à representer; mais ceux qui ont donné beaucoup à la grace et à l'elegance du langage, ils sont dangereux à entreprendre: nommément pour les rapporter à un idiome plus foible. C'estoit une occupation bien estrange et nouvelle pour moy…

The world is full of polyglots just muddling along as best they can. :-)

Overall, I'd say that switching to 16th century French has temporarily knocked my reading back to a strong B1 or a weak B2: I can still generally make sense of most of the discussion, but I have to work for it a bit, and parts remain frustratingly opaque. (This was one of the easier passages.) If I had some time to kill, I could probably get back up to a solid B2 reading level quite quickly, at the cost of making my modern written French a bit weird.

sctroyenne wrote:
But yeah, French from that era is much more approchable than English from that era, at least to me. No need to be afraid of trying Molière, the Lumières, etc!

Yeah, that's one of the delightfully strange things about reaching a decent level in a new language. I find that the strongest parts of my French are starting to overlap with the weakest portions of my English. Here are some examples:

- Modern French is a less "foreign" language to me than Shakespearean English.

- I can read Tocqueville's French from 1835 more easily than Hobbes' English from 1651, even though they're both writing about politics.

- I understand the French dialog in some episodes of La Légende de Korra better than I understand Scottish accents in some episodes of The Monarch of the Glen.

- Sure, I can't use my French the same fast, natural, idiomatic way that I use my English among people who share my interests and background. But when I speak with somebody from a very different background—from a different age group, with different interests and life experiences—I'm starting to notice how much I slow down, enunciate clearly, avoid cultural references, and stick to easy topics.

In other words, the further we get from the world we know, the further we fall away from what we think of as "native" proficiency. And this explains a lot of things. For example, why does reading to young children make such a huge difference in academic outcomes? Well, I can think of at least one possibility: Spoken English and written English are slightly different languages, with different vocabularies and ways of communicating. And all that time spent reading to kids is basically helping them learn written English. Or to put it another way, Harry Potter didn't just help a lot of Europeans learn English, it also helped a lot of English-speaking kids become capable readers.
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emk
Diglot
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 Message 1136 of 1317
23 September 2014 at 8:53pm | IP Logged 
I posted this in the epic vocabulary thread, but I thought I would repost it here, in case anybody reads this log from beginning to end, and wants to see how far I've come since my Assimil + 1 non-fiction book days:

emk wrote:
patrickwilken wrote:
The tests can be found here: http://www.itt-leipzig.de/static/startseiteeng.html

That was a fun test! I only took the passive test, and I had to stop a few minutes early for a plumber, so I couldn't go back and check my answers. But aside from some weird mistakes in the 2,000 band, I did OK:



I liked this test because it really tried to measure what I think of as "automatic" or "consolidated" vocabulary. It didn't just test me on vaguely understanding the words in context. Instead, it felt almost like a crossword: I had to match up clues with words, and some of them were a little tricky. Oh, and it felt like whoever designed the test made an effort to defeat English users who were relying heavily on cognates.

Unfortunately, I'm still scoring 29/30, 30/30 and 29/30 in the top three bands, so I can't estimate my passive vocabulary size with any accuracy. It's another ceiling effect, just like with Milton's vocabulary studies.

Apparently, you need to score at least 27/30 on each section, so I passed all five sections. This means that I know the most frequent 5,000 words of French quite solidly, including some fairly idiomatic usages.

If we take a much looser definition of "known", roughly equivalent to "I'm quite sure this is an actual French word, I'm pretty sure I know the rough definition, and it wouldn't bother me in context when reading," there used to be a site called Mesmots (Internet archive here) that placed my passive vocabulary at about 22,000 words. This uses the Lexique data set, which is wonderful, but which counts aimer and aimé as separate words, because they're different parts of speech. So we can conclude that my passive vocabulary is very solid at the 5,000 word mark, and gradually fades out somewhere about 15,000 words. This is enough that I can pick up a French novel in a familiar genre, start reading, and soon find my self going for several pages at a time without needing to actually use the pop-up dictionary. I'm weakest with things like Baudelaire (poetry from the 1800s) and the occasional Madmoizelle article (casual slang), that are simply far outside of my typical reading.


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