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fezmond
Groupie
Korea, South
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Speaks: English*
Studies: Korean, French

 
 Message 393 of 1317
14 January 2013 at 3:27pm | IP Logged 
Persepolis is a great book, I hope I'll be able to manage it in French one day.
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geoffw
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United States
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Speaks: English*, German, Yiddish
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 Message 394 of 1317
14 January 2013 at 3:50pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
Oh, and a fun exercise for parents: When your kids are playing with other kids, try to silently
translate everything they say into your target language.


Interesting idea. I've tried this before with adults, TV, etc. (mainly for German and Yiddish, but maybe soon with
French). I really latched onto the idea when I was at a speech by a foreign consul who clearly was not a native
English-speaker, but spoke clearly enough to be understood well. I figured that if he could do it in English, I should
be able to say the same things in German. It was hard, but not always impossible.

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Quique
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Spain
cronopios.net/Registered users can see my Skype Name
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Speaks: Spanish*, English
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 Message 395 of 1317
14 January 2013 at 10:20pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
Persepolis (four volumes in one book)

This is a major classic. It's the story of a young girl who lived through the Iranian revolution and who later emigrated to Europe. I'll let it speak for itself:

And look at all that lovely, idiomatic French dialog. This is what real, spoken French sounds like to me.

View on Amazon.fr (there's also a movie version, which I hear is good)


I watched the movie a few years ago. Afterwards I took a look at the book in a bookshop, but its French was too difficult for me, so I didn't buy it. Maybe in a few months!

I knew about Siegfried, but not Immigrants. They all look interesting. Thanks.
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emk
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 Message 396 of 1317
15 January 2013 at 3:49am | IP Logged 
I'm glad folks liked those BDs suggestions! I'll post sample pages from some other BDs at some point..

While we're on the subject of kids, we own a whole pile of children's books in French. I found this one in the gift shop of La Corderie Royale, and I couldn't resist.

It's called Je mangerais bien un enfant. It's only recommended for kids with a slightly demented sense of humor:







View on Amazon.fr.

Of course, no children are eaten in the course of the story, because Achille hasn't been eating his bananas. It's a cute book, but it's only about 20 pages long.

This book is in the present tense, which is a popular choice for French children's books. But I think the majority of our children's books use the passé simple, which even 2-year-olds are expected to deal with in bedtime stories, apparently. I know I've said this before, but the passé simple is absolutely standard in narrative writing at any age.

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emk
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 Message 397 of 1317
16 January 2013 at 5:00am | IP Logged 
I messed around with my prototype "scanner" again, and took photos of 5 good bandes dessinées. I'm going to post them between now and Friday. So keep your eye on my log!

The images still aren't that great. The biggest challenge is getting even lighting with no reflections, especially on the bigger BDs.

5 BDs in 4 days, day 1: L'Incal noir (book 1 of 6)

This is the BD that allegedly inspired The Fifth Element. (There was even a lawsuit, which the movie studio won.) Like The Fifth Element, there's a hard-luck private eye who lives in a bleakly comic sci-fi dystopia. Oh, and the final two volumes of the BD are titled La cinquième essence. But other than that, there isn't much connection between the two.

This is not a kid's story. There's sex and violence and drugs. But it's a lot of fun in an over-the-top kind of way, with such characters as a talking bird, the dog-headed Kill "tête de chien", a retired professional killer called the Méta Baron, and a president who has transferred his mind to a series of clone bodies. You've sort of got to be in the right mood to appreciate this story.

Below, our protagonist has just been thrown down "Suicide Ally" by three masked assailants, and the bystanders are hoping to take some pot-shots before he falls into a lake of acid.



Vocabulary-wise, this one is moderately hard. And it's not going to be to everybody's taste. But I do want to know how the story ends, so I'm going to look for volume 2 the next time I'm in Montreal.

View on Amazon.fr
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emk
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 Message 398 of 1317
16 January 2013 at 2:12pm | IP Logged 
5 BDs in 4 days, day 2: À boire et à manger, tome 2: les pieds dans le plat

This book collects online comics from the Le Monde blog of the same name. It's sort of cross between French food humor and a French cookbook. I haven't tried any of the recipes yet, but some of them look pretty tasty. For a sample recipe, check out how to cook a spaghetti squash with a light saber.

But what I really want to talk about today are certain stereotypical Parisian waiters. You probably know how this story goes: A high school student takes several years of French, and saves up money for a week-long trip to Paris. When they get there, they find a likely-looking café, and try to order a cup of coffee with their school French.

Unfortunately for our poor student of French, they wind up talking to this particular waiter, and it all goes horribly wrong:



That guy is really not the best choice for practicing your French!

Over the years, I've traveled through northern France and Quebec, and I've met enormous numbers of lovely, welcoming people. They were happy to listen to my horrible French, or to try and speak English. It never mattered if my conversation consisted of low-A2 French and extensive pantomime: the French were happy to talk, and were extremely welcoming of strangers.

But I've run into one or two cranky city waiters in my time. If you ever have the misfortune to run into somebody like this, do what Benny Lewis tried in Paris: Sympathize with the poor, overworked customer service staff. And if that doesn't work, well, some people are just jerks, and you should take your business elsewhere. There are plenty of friendly waiters in Paris who'd be happy to serve you.

And if you'd like some food humor, some tantalizing French recipes, and a lot of extremely colloquial French, check out À boire et à manger:

View on Amazon.fr
Read the blog

Edited by emk on 16 January 2013 at 2:15pm

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tastyonions
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 Message 399 of 1317
16 January 2013 at 2:26pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
5 BDs in 4 days, day 2: À boire et à manger, tome 2: les pieds dans le plat

This book collects online comics from the Le Monde blog of the same name. It's sort of cross between French food humor and a French cookbook. I haven't tried any of the recipes yet, but some of them look pretty tasty. For a sample recipe, check out how to cook a spaghetti squash with a light saber.

But what I really want to talk about today are certain stereotypical Parisian waiters. You probably know how this story goes: A high school student takes several years of French, and saves up money for a week-long trip to Paris. When they get there, they find a likely-looking café, and try to order a cup of coffee with their school French.

Unfortunately for our poor student of French, they wind up talking to this particular waiter, and it all goes horribly wrong:

http://s13.postimage.org/lx5luc6on/boire.jpg

That guy is really not the best choice for practicing your French!

Over the years, I've traveled through northern France and Quebec, and I've met enormous numbers of lovely, welcoming people. They were happy to listen to my horrible French, or to try and speak English. It never mattered if my conversation consisted of low-A2 French and extensive pantomime: the French were happy to talk, and were extremely welcoming of strangers.

But I've run into one or two cranky city waiters in my time. If you ever have the misfortune to run into somebody like this, do what Benny Lewis tried in Paris: Sympathize with the poor, overworked customer service staff. And if that doesn't work, well, some people are just jerks, and you should take your business elsewhere. There are plenty of friendly waiters in Paris who'd be happy to serve you.

And if you'd like some food humor, some tantalizing French recipes, and a lot of extremely colloquial French, check out À boire et à manger:

View on Amazon.fr
Read the blog

Thanks for that image, and for your thoughts on travel and speaking in France. I'm still planning to go in about eight months, and it's cool to read about your experience there. :-)
1 person has voted this message useful





emk
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 Message 400 of 1317
16 January 2013 at 5:17pm | IP Logged 
tastyonions wrote:
Thanks for that image, and for your thoughts on travel and speaking in France. I'm still planning to go in about eight months, and it's cool to read about your experience there. :-)


No problems! The French are really lovely people, but Paris can be a bit like Manhattan sometimes—most people are perfectly nice, but there are some unfortunate and memorable exceptions. I remember standing in an empty Manhattan bagel shop, taking all of 15 seconds to look at the bagels on display. The person behind the counter snarled, "Yah gonna buy sometin', or what?" I would feel horrible if some foreign tourist judged all of the United States by that one guy. Really, the only way to deal with that kind of customer service is to laugh inside and tell yourself, "Wow! I've finally met a stereotypically rude New Yorker." You could hang a sign next to the guy and rent him out as tourist attraction. And in both the US and France, 99.5% of the population will be much nicer than that one jerk.

By the way, panel 5 of the above cartoon contains a goldmine of cultural and linguistic details. Let's take it apart line-by-line. (If there's any native speakers reading along, please let me know if I've missed anything!)

Quote:
Customer: Esscuzémoi (Excusez moi)
"Excuse me."

Waiter: Ouais ?
"Yeah?"

Here, ouais is the informal version of oui.

Customer: Je pourrais avoir un verre d'eau avec mon…
"Could I have a a glass of water with my…"

Notice that it's un verre. Nearly all -rre nouns are feminine. This is a rare exception that has caught more that one tourist!

Waiter: Eau platte ou gazeuse
"Regular water or carbonated?"

Both of these choices will come in a bottle, and they can be pretty expensive.

Other employee: Y veut quoi ? (Il veut quoi ?)
"He wants what?"

Here, the y is a clipped version of il which can be heard in some dialects. It's very informal. Note how the question is formed, with quoi left in place. Depending on the tone of voice, this is either casual speech among friends or maybe just a bit rude.

Waiter: Non laisse (Non, laisse tomber.)
"No, drop it."

The French say laisse tomber all the time. To my non-native ear, it's about halfway between "forget it" and "drop it" in English, depending on the tone.

Customer: Nonon just un…
"No no, just a…"

Our customer is going for the smart move here—he's going to ask for eau du robinet, or tap water, which is his legal right:

Quote:
Peut-on vous refuser une carafe d'eau du robinet ?

Non. Dans les restaurants, le refus de servir à la clientèle à sa demande et gratuitement l'eau ordinaire en accompagnement d'un repas constitue une infraction. Le restaurateur qui offre à la place de l'eau ordinaire demandée une eau minérale qui donne lieu à paiement est également en infraction.


Waiter: Ah non y en a plus. (Ah, non, il y en a plus.)
"Ah, no, there isn't any more."

And here's the counter move by the server.

Customer: Plus d'eau du robi… (Plus d'eau du robinet ?)
"No more tap water?"

Waiter: Non
"No."


Have I missed anything?

What we have here is a waiter who repeatedly interrupts the customer and then claims the restaurant is all out of tap water, all in hopes of an extra 3€. Obviously this is exaggerated for comic effect, but even so, this is not somebody who's going to help you practice your French!

I really love the way that these linguistic and cultural details tend to show up in BDs. And one well-chosen BD can contain more colloquial speech than an entire novel.


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