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Jeffers
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 3069 days ago

2151 posts - 3960 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Hindi, Ancient Greek, French, Sanskrit, German

 
 Message 1017 of 1317
19 May 2014 at 2:28pm | IP Logged 
patrickwilken wrote:
There are a lot of cognates in German too (obviously). It would be
interesting to know the relative difficulties between the two languages. For me the
cognates get ever more obvious the higher I get, to the point now that I genuinely
surprised/interested when I see a word that has no obvious English connection.


I have found French to be much easier than German to learn, apart from the regularity of
German spelling and pronunciation. There are more cognates with French and the verb
system is closer to English than the German verb system. Just compare Michel Thomas'
French course and his German course. The French course seems like a walk in the park by
comparison, but that's not because he teaches it better. It's because German verbs are
harder for an English speaker to learn.
1 person has voted this message useful



patrickwilken
Senior Member
Germany
radiant-flux.net
Joined 2693 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 1018 of 1317
19 May 2014 at 5:49pm | IP Logged 
Jeffers wrote:
patrickwilken wrote:
There are a lot of cognates in German too (obviously). It would be
interesting to know the relative difficulties between the two languages. For me the
cognates get ever more obvious the higher I get, to the point now that I genuinely
surprised/interested when I see a word that has no obvious English connection.


I have found French to be much easier than German to learn, apart from the regularity of
German spelling and pronunciation. There are more cognates with French and the verb
system is closer to English than the German verb system.


That's interesting. I have my doubts that French really is so much easier, but I don't want to get into a side discussion on EMK's personal blog. Certainly the FSI data suggests that learning French (at least to B2) is about 25% faster. I am not convinced this discount continues to apply as you go up to C1 and C2 though.

I think sometimes the Germanic origins of many words in English get a bit of a bad rap (the old 'English is a Germanic language with a Romance vocabulary'), but if you check out this draft rewrite in Anglish it's quite understandable without the Romance/Greek cognates, which gives you an idea how much English vocabulary comes from German:

Three Little Pigs

Or this story by HP Lovecraft :

http://anglish.wikia.com/wiki/The_Fearful_Old_Man

It would be interesting to see a similar rewrite without the German origins. Is there such a thing as Romish (pure Romance English)? Would that even be understandable?

Anyway to put things in perspective which I think we both agree: For English speakers German or French are child's play compared to pretty much any other language (Russian, Japanese, Swahili, Hindi etc) for which I am eternally grateful.

But, as I said, I feel bad starting a side discussion on EMK's personal blog, so unless he wants to continue the discussion we should probably find another venue.

Edited by patrickwilken on 19 May 2014 at 6:05pm

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sctroyenne
Diglot
Senior Member
United StatesRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3551 days ago

739 posts - 1312 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Spanish, Irish

 
 Message 1019 of 1317
19 May 2014 at 9:28pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
And French is a big, huge rich language with something for every taste.
Many Americans think that speaking French is all about art films, fashion and Parisian
cafés. And if they like that, well, then more power to them. Personally, I can
appreciate that stuff only in small doses. But I'm never at a loss for cool
things to do in French. Plus, anybody who speaks English and Spanish is going to get an
outrageous discount on French. So if you feel yourself being tugged in that direction,
don't let the reputation scare you away.


This is a huge point. There's an over-intellectualization of French that contributes to
snobbery/intimidation among learner communities that really ought to be broken down.
That was really the most enjoyable thing about living in Paris for almost two years -
discovering the diversity. I taught English to computer geeks, went to improv shows and
competitions, went to B-movie nights at an indie cinema, went to celtic music/dancing
nights and I met a wide range of people. Even at a party attended exclusively by people
who had their PhDs/were getting their PhDs in Economics and related fields, the topic
of conversation was the Miss France contest. Many of the most popular movies in France
never get distributed in foreign cinemas and on DVD in the international market. And
there's plenty of cheesy reality TV and the like that French people will try to
discourage you from watching because it doesn't show off high-intellect, priviledged-
dialect French.

Towards the end of my stay I thought about doing a project of interviews with French
people with different interests and backgrounds to give a more diverse view of French
culture (and to provide the learning community with more real life audio with
transcripts). I suppose that's something I could still do...

One thing I hate more than anything is when an American/British expat writer publishes
an article or a book for the Anglophone audience about their experience living in
France. They almost always live in very rich areas of Paris (around Jardin du
Luxembourg or in the XVIe) and run in very exclusive circles made up of diplomats,
politicians, etc. Their observations are based completely in a world that doesn't exist
anymore for the vast majority of the French and gives Anglophones an image of France
that's very much trapped in the 20s/50s-60s.
4 persons have voted this message useful





emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3692 days ago

2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 1020 of 1317
25 May 2014 at 3:57pm | IP Logged 
sctroyenne wrote:
One thing I hate more than anything is when an American/British expat writer publishes
an article or a book for the Anglophone audience about their experience living in
France. They almost always live in very rich areas of Paris (around Jardin du
Luxembourg or in the XVIe) and run in very exclusive circles made up of diplomats,
politicians, etc. Their observations are based completely in a world that doesn't exist
anymore for the vast majority of the French and gives Anglophones an image of France
that's very much trapped in the 20s/50s-60s.

My personal loathing is reserved for a genre of self-help books with the theme "Oh, the French are so much classier than you will ever be." These are mostly aimed at women, and they have titles like French Women Don't Get Fat and Bringing Up Bébé. I can't complain about any specific book—I've only flipped through a couple of these—but every time I glance at the content, I just cringe. Such ridiculous stereotypes. It's like reading a book titled "The Wisdom of Californian Child Rearing" or "Canadian Men Stay Buff (What With All That Trapping and Tree-Cutting)".

People are people. French culture is made of the same basic ingredients as US culture, and only the proportions and combinations differ. For example, many French people love good food, but San Francisco foodies are probably even more obsessed. France is more liberal than the US, but it has all the same types of conservatives. Some French parents are amazing; a few appear to rely on sarcasm and Ferme ta gueule. The French almost never surprise me in big ways; it's only the little stuff that's disconcertingly weird.

A fun conversation. I ran into retired French teacher at an outdoor Meetup the other day, and we had a great conversation in French. She was a little rusty, but she had worked with quite a few bilingual students from Quebec back in the day. However, it didn't take me long to realize that I was slowing down my speech, enunciating clearly, and taking time to explain occasional bits of vocabulary.

So for all that I occasionally gripe about my inability to keep up with native French speakers—especially in a professional context—I actually do pretty well. Non-native French teachers, for example, are pretty fun to chat with.
2 persons have voted this message useful



napoleon
Tetraglot
Senior Member
India
Joined 3176 days ago

543 posts - 874 votes 
Speaks: Bengali*, English, Hindi, Urdu
Studies: French, Arabic (Written)

 
 Message 1021 of 1317
25 May 2014 at 5:34pm | IP Logged 
French self-help books aren't any better.
I read "La femme parfaite est une connasse" because I saw it in the Amazon meillures ventes list. It was full of stereotypes. Worse. American stereotypes that have gone stale.
It was a quick read. But I wouldn't read it again.
1 person has voted this message useful



tastyonions
Triglot
Senior Member
United States
goo.gl/UIdChYRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 2825 days ago

1044 posts - 1823 votes 
Speaks: English*, French, Spanish
Studies: Italian

 
 Message 1022 of 1317
25 May 2014 at 6:18pm | IP Logged 
I love both sides of French. My time with the language is usually shared between France Inter / France Culture and YouTube videos of adolescent-level humor.
2 persons have voted this message useful



sctroyenne
Diglot
Senior Member
United StatesRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3551 days ago

739 posts - 1312 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Spanish, Irish

 
 Message 1023 of 1317
25 May 2014 at 10:39pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:

My personal loathing is reserved for a genre of self-help books with the theme "Oh, the French are so much classier than you will ever be." These are mostly aimed at women, and they have titles like French Women Don't Get Fat and Bringing Up Bébé. I can't complain about any specific book—I've only flipped through a couple of these—but every time I glance at the content, I just cringe. Such ridiculous stereotypes. It's like reading a book titled "The Wisdom of Californian Child Rearing" or "Canadian Men Stay Buff (What With All That Trapping and Tree-Cutting)".


These are bad too. Granted, there are definitely differences between French and American diets, food policy, and general ways of looking at food that merit being looked at but when "French Women Don't Get Fat" claimed that French women don't diet or obsess over their weight, I just said, "Are you kidding me?!"

In other news, I've been marathoning some delightfully trashy French scripted reality television: Face au doute and La jour où tout a basculé.

Edited by sctroyenne on 25 May 2014 at 11:35pm

1 person has voted this message useful



Jeffers
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 3069 days ago

2151 posts - 3960 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Hindi, Ancient Greek, French, Sanskrit, German

 
 Message 1024 of 1317
26 May 2014 at 6:28am | IP Logged 
I like both sides of French culture as well. Against the highbrow notions of what French and France are, you have the power of McDo's. There are two interesting facts about McDonald's in France: 1. it is the second most profitable country for the chain, and 2. it is the largest private employer in France.

Here's an article from the Telegraph a couple of years ago:
Le Big Mac has conquered La Belle France
And one from Slate:
How McDonald's Conquered France


1 person has voted this message useful



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