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emk
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 Message 265 of 1317
04 November 2012 at 2:17am | IP Logged 
I'm 40% of the way through L'Étranger. I started with a paper copy but switched to the Kindle. I'd forgotten just how insanely useful a popup dictionary can be.

L'Étranger is an interesting book—it's probably the only book I own which uses the passé composé for narration, and the prose is extremely easy to read. It's well-written and only about 110 pages long, but the narrator is the world's champion je-m'en-foutist. If you want to know 5 different ways to say ça m'est égal, give it try.

The last 10 words I looked up:

Quote:
cabanon: little cabin
se valoir: to have the same value
empêtré: entangled
gousset: a small money pouch on the belt
feutre: felt hat
biberon: bottle
prise de bec: argument
pommade: ointment
aboyer: to bark
toile: fine cloth


It's so easy to use the pop-up dictionary that I occasionally verify words that I more-or-less know.

geoffw wrote:
I totally buy into the "obsessive AJATT listening thing," fwiw. I'm doing it right now, in fact...


Yeah, I need to do it more. Which brings me to the latest news. My wife just received an email from the French consulate announcing the following service:

Voila TV

Yes, this is French cable television in the US, with 17 channels, for $34 per month. You need an internet connection, and they'll send you a cable box that plugs into your television.

We're going to give it try, and I'll let you know how it turns out.

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sctroyenne
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 Message 266 of 1317
04 November 2012 at 5:05am | IP Logged 
emk wrote:

Voila TV

Yes, this is French cable television in the US, with 17 channels, for $34 per month.
You need an internet connection, and they'll send you a cable box that plugs into your
television.

We're going to give it try, and I'll let you know how it turns out.


Awesome! I think it's a bit much for me, though, at this point. Though maybe I can get
it as a present as we are getting close to Christmas. It would be great if Canal+ were
included but they're of course not part of "regular" French TV so I would have been
very surprised if they were part of this deal.
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tarvos
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 Message 267 of 1317
04 November 2012 at 10:01am | IP Logged 
l'Étranger again! Do you like the book, emk? I have finished it but I think it's
underwhelming (and Meursault indeed doesn't care about anything at all).
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Josquin
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 Message 268 of 1317
04 November 2012 at 2:25pm | IP Logged 
Oh, L'Étranger... I read it in an annotated version when I graduated from grammar school. It's really an easy read, I think it's perfect for learners. But as tarvos said, Camus isn't really interesting. If you want real boredom though, try La Peste.

Edited by Josquin on 04 November 2012 at 2:26pm

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emk
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 Message 269 of 1317
04 November 2012 at 3:36pm | IP Logged 
tarvos wrote:
l'Étranger again! Do you like the book, emk?


Do I like the book? That's a hard question.

I certainly dislike the narrator. He's willingly complicit in evil and cruelty, because it's all the same to him. But he's not one of those charismatically evil characters like Hannibal Lecter (who certainly has some strong preferences and enthusiasms, even if they mostly involve eating people), or one of those people who raises being repulsive to an art form, like the narrator of Dostoyevsky's Notes from the Underground.

The narrator of L'Étranger is just a pointless, passionless shell of a human being. And Camus has certainly done a very good job of conveying his personality.

The only reason I'm still reading is because I want to know where Camus is going with this story (if anywhere). And because 110 pages of easy French doesn't represent a huge time commitment for me these days.
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emk
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 Message 270 of 1317
06 November 2012 at 8:37pm | IP Logged 
Ah, L'Étranger is finally going somewhere. Still haven't made up my mind. It's interesting enough, but I have little urge to read more than 10 pages per day. As usual, this kind of daily consistency pays off for me—it helps translate short-term peaks into the new normal. But it's better when I find a book that tempts me to spend 3 hours reading non-stop.

Today has been a good day from French. While working, I've been listening to 5-minute chunks of movie audio on random shuffle, which feels as helpful as it usually does. Maybe I can get back those occasional flickers of fast, fluent speech that I was experiencing a few weeks ago?

I also did a language exchange during lunch. This was my first Skype exchange since before the DELF exam, and my partner thought that my spoken French had improved noticeably. Personally, I had thought that it was pretty much the same, with a larger vocabulary and maybe slightly less fluency when talking about abstract subjects. But maybe it's just that my expectations have improved faster than my abilities.

I think that I may schedule a couple of sessions with my old tutor, who is amazing. And the French cable box should arrive Thursday.
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sctroyenne
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 Message 271 of 1317
06 November 2012 at 9:34pm | IP Logged 
You'll have to let us know if the cable box allows you to have closed captioning (when
available). That could certainly make it worth it.
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emk
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 Message 272 of 1317
06 November 2012 at 9:59pm | IP Logged 
sctroyenne wrote:
You'll have to let us know if the cable box allows you to have closed captioning (when available). That could certainly make it worth it.


Thank you for an excuse to bug the sales staff. :-) Unfortunately, they tell me that subtitles are not currently available on VoilaTV, though they're happy to forward the request to their development team. Ah, well, it would have been nice. But I can live without them at this point, even if that means I learn less per hour.

I get the impression that this is a very beta service. There's no digital video recorder, no smartphone app, no way to watch video through the browser, and no English version of the website. It's a cable box with a nice selection of channels, a tiny video-on-demand service, and not much else. Oh, and tech support is very friendly and helpful, both on the phone and via live chat, and shows not the slightest inclination to switch to English. Honestly, it has all the markings of a pretty small startup testing the waters of the US market, even though it's probably a subsidiary of a bigger French company.

Still, since my only other option for getting French TV is about $150/month for TV 5 (and maybe a news channel from Quebec), I'm not complaining. This is the first time that I'll have real French TV in any form, and I'm counting the days until it arrives. :-)


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