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emk
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 Message 601 of 1317
20 June 2013 at 1:16pm | IP Logged 
Expugnator: Thank you for the information on the marketing textbook! I may pick that up; it looks quite good.

Media

Avatar. Two seasons done, one to go. The quality of the writing continues to be surprisingly good, and the French version is excellent. If you're looking for some fun TV that's not too hard, and you don't need subs, I still recommend this series.

District 9. I picked this up because it was cheap, and because the dialog in some YouTube clips seemed relatively clear. Unfortunately, the French dub makes no attempt whatsoever to line up the words with people's mouths. My brain often refuses to accept that a certain character is actually speaking. Avoid this.

La Nuit des Temps. René Barjavel was recommended by my sister-in-law, by lorinth and by several lists at SensCritique. I've read almost 100 pages in two days. This is one of those stories of an ancient civilization buried in the Antarctic ice, and it's the best French science fiction book I've read since Jules Verne. (The French don't publish all that many first-rate science fiction novels, as you see from this list, virtually all of which is translated from English.) The French in this novel would be pretty challenging around B1, thanks to a certain amount of a metaphor and description, but it's not bad all if you have a decent-sized vocabulary.

Grammar checkers

Even the French sometimes struggle with the finer points of French orthography. Here's some aid.

BonPatron. The best online checker I've seen. US$15/year for the unlimited version, and well worth it.

Antidote. I've seen this recommended online, and it looks really impressive.

French CEFR exams

Three articles from my tutor (all in French), discussing the difference between the DELF/DALF diplomas and the TCF level assessments, and how to prepare for the DALF C1:

An old article on the DELF/DALF vs the TCF. Lays out the background.
Skills demanded by the DALF C1. You need more than just a good level of French.
Passe ton DALF. The best site I've seen on DALF preparation.

Frankly, I haven't decided whether or not the DALF synthèse exercises are amusing enough to make up for the somewhat artificial nature of the exam. I already have a permanent diploma declaring my French is serviceable; it might be easier to go ahead and take the TCF this time.

The Egyptian experiment

For the last 8 months or so (I forget the exact number), I've been doing Anki reviews of my Assimil : L'Égyptien Hiéroglyphique cards. I've deliberately avoided doing anything outside of SRS. More on this experiment soon…

Where I am, all things considered

Right now, my actual level of French seems to depend on a few things:

- How many pages of French and how much French TV have I gone through in the last 24 hours? Input aids output enormously.
- Have I had the opportunity to really get into a topic of conversation for at least 20 minutes?
- How well rested am I?

There's also the question of difficulty—I can follow some TV series easily, with 90+% comprehension, whereas I only get 50% of other series and many movies. Similarly, some news shows are easy to follow (even the interviews in the street), whereas others give me trouble. Sometimes I can explain four different ways to market a website. Other times, I botch basic grammar and trip over my tongue while discussing basic stuff.

There's also the problem of diminishing returns. There's a ton of stuff I don't know yet, but a lot of it is individually quite rare.

More and more, I feel a longing to essentially be a college student again. Six months of 24x7 immersion would help me enormously. I want long conversations, papers to write, and lots of free time. (College students never believe they have free time. They typically have oceans of it, compared to any later time of life that I've experienced.)


Edited by emk on 20 June 2013 at 4:03pm

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lorinth
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 Message 602 of 1317
20 June 2013 at 2:38pm | IP Logged 
Quote:
The French don't publish all that many first-rate science fiction novels, as you
see from this list, virtually all of which is translated from English.


You're right. Now, as it seems you're reading *fast*, and you'll soon run out of pages,
may I suggest "Le Successeur de Pierre", by Jean-Michel Truong? He's a specialist of AI,
an interesting guy, check the Wikipedia page about him.

I'm glad you like Barjavel!
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emk
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 Message 603 of 1317
24 June 2013 at 9:42pm | IP Logged 
lorinth wrote:
I'm glad you like Barjavel!

Barjavel rocks! I just finished La Nuit des temps, and I was pleased that it ended on a strong note. If anyone's searching for a French science fiction classic, I recommend it.

I've ordered Le Successeur de Pierre, and while I'm waiting for it, I have a copy of Damasio's La Horde du Contrevent to read. This one may be a bit of a challenge, judging from the Amazon reviews. It's thick and rather experimental, and the Amazon.fr reviews seem to alternate between "brilliant!" and "huh?". The page numbers count down and the book comes with a bookmark listing the 23 punctuation characters used to indicate which member of the Horde is speaking. If this book proves to be too boring at my current level, I'll go re-read Le vieil homme et la guerre.

As for TV, we're well into the third season of Avatar, and I've decided it's time to push myself a bit. I was going to order the Tintin series from the early 90s, but it's too easy and too expensive. But I managed to find good prices on one season each of Kaamelott, Le trône de fer and Survivants, all of which should be a good challenge. I hope there are subtitles on the Kaamelott DVD, but the others I should be able to tackle directly. (I check out excerpts from each series online before buying.)

I find I'm getting more price-conscious about French media. Gone are the days where one good book could last me two months! And even the TV series aren't lasting as long as they used to.

Another thing that I've noticed is how much difference it makes to have media that I love as opposed to media which I merely like. When I have books that are merely OK, I procrastinate and fall behind on the Super Challenge. When I have TV shows that I'm just not that into, I make excuses instead of watching them. But when I get something good, I devour it in days, and make excuses to spend time on it. (This is something that Khatzumoto writes about, too.) And if it's really good, you can do all sorts of handy stuff with it: enjoy it repeatedly, make SRS cards out of it, watch it happily with only 40% comprehension, or whatever you need to get the most out of the material.
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Cavesa
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 Message 604 of 1317
24 June 2013 at 10:15pm | IP Logged 
They don't write many good sci-fi novelsbut there is some. La planete des singes is a good example. And they do have some sci-fi BDs.

emk, would you please add your tv series into the wikia list? including the warning: avoid District 9 with French dubbing? :-)
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emk
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 Message 605 of 1317
29 June 2013 at 3:06pm | IP Logged 
Cavesa wrote:
They don't write many good sci-fi novelsbut there is some. La planete des singes is a good example. And they do have some sci-fi BDs.

Oh, the French write plenty of awesome science fiction BDs. It's just novels where I've had problems—there's a handful of first-rate classics, a bunch of interesting experimental stuff, a nice selection of fun reads, and a large pile of books that are pretty forgettable. But if you add it all up, it's a drop in the bucket compared to English.

Cavesa wrote:
emk, would you please add your tv series into the wikia list? including the warning: avoid District 9 with French dubbing? :-)

I've added a few of the series. For more, see my lists of media on SensCritique.


As for reading, I crashed and burned with La Horde du Contrevent. It's the usual problem with experimental hard SF: poetic and metaphorical language combined with the fact that I can't take human nature for granted. I can decipher it, but it's a slog. So I'll save this one for later, when I'm well past C1.

I met with a client in Boston this Thursday, and Schoenhof's glorious Cambridge bookstore was open late. The man who's usually behind the counter remembered me, and we spent a good 30 minutes discussing French fiction. He recommended a bunch of interesting books, including Michel Houellebecq's Extension du domaine de la lutte. This is one of those books that you either love or hate. The narrator is a 30-something IT guy who's running training courses for the ministry of agriculture. He has the same repulsively honest charm as the narrator of Dostoyevsky's Notes from Underground, but he moves through a world that's basically the French version of Dilbert.

Here, the narrator is speaking with a younger woman who works for the ministry of agriculture. She's started ranting for no particular reason in the middle of a sales conversation:

Quote:
Sa rage est intense, sa rage est profonde. Maintenant, elle parle de méthodologie. D'après elle, tout le monde devrait se conformer à une méthodologie rigoureuse basée sur la programmation structurée ; et au lieu de ça, c'est l'anarchie, les programmes sont écrits n'import comment, chacun fait ce qu'il veut dans son coin sans s'occuper des autres, il n'y a pas d'entente, il n'y a pas de projet général, il n'y a pas d'harmonie, Paris est une ville atroce, les gens ne se rencontrent pas, ils ne s'intéressent même pas à leur travail, tout est superficiel, chacun rentre chez soi à six heures travail fini ou pas, tout le monde s'en fout.

Elle me propose d'aller prendre un café. Évidement, j'accepte. Distributeur automatique. Je n'ai pas de monnaie, elle me donne deux francs. Le café est immonde, mais ça ne l'arrête pas dans son élan. À Paris, on peut crever sur place dans la rue, tout le monde s'en fout. Chez elle, dans le Béarn, ce n'est pas pareil. Tous le week-ends elle rentre chez elle, dans le Béarn. Et le soir elle suit des cours au CNAM, pour améliorer sa situation. Dans trois ans elle aura peut-être son diplôme d'ingénieur.

Like I said, you either love it or hate it. The book is a series of short scenes and reflections on life, each lasting a few pages. I'm currently on page 55 of 156, and judging from reviews, things will start getting darker soon.

Houellebecq also wrote an essay on H.P. Lovecraft which comes highly recommended.

I'm nearing the end of Avatar. We have only the 4-part final battle to watch tonight, and it's done. I'll miss it. The underlying story is surprisingly well done, and the French translation is solid.

Along the way, I've noticed someting really interesting. If I watch several episodes a day, my French is pretty fluent. But if I don't watch any French TV, there's a good chance that my spoken French will shut down, and I'll need to start manually conjugating stuff which normally comes automatically, and I'll stumble over my tongue. It's amazing how much of a role constant input plays, and how important it is to keep my French "activated" by the environment.
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Crush
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 Message 606 of 1317
29 June 2013 at 7:18pm | IP Logged 
I've watched Avatar in Spanish and later in Catalan. I've found it's a nice series with clear language, pretty easy to understand. Plus, it's interesting. I'd recommend it to people wanting to get started listening to something in their target language. (I still haven't watched it in English)

Btw, do you have a list of French (ie, not translated) science fiction novels you've read that you'd recommend? I haven't read much in French but i love science fiction, so i think it'd be easy to get through just from finding it interesting. I've noted La nuit des temps, Le successeur de Pierre, and La planète des singes.
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emk
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 Message 607 of 1317
29 June 2013 at 8:02pm | IP Logged 
Crush wrote:
Btw, do you have a list of French (ie, not translated) science fiction novels you've read that you'd recommend? I haven't read much in French but i love science fiction, so i think it'd be easy to get through just from finding it interesting.

My list of intermediate-friendly French science fiction and fantasy is available on SensCritique. About half the books were originally written in French; the others are good translations from English. I'll be adding more as I finish them. Also see my list of good BDs.

In general, I use lots of stuff translated from English. I know some people don't like doing this, but for me, it's an easy decision. When 13 out of the top 15 science fiction novels on SensCritique are translated from English, I'm not going to fight the trend. TV is similar: my in-laws say that 5 out every 7 nights on TF1 are dubbed shows. The trick is to find high-quality stuff that natives love. And of course, I do love finding good native stuff—I just don't insist on it.


Since the Super Challenge site is down, I'm going to post a summary of my current progress:

Films: Done.
Books: About 7,850 of 10,000 pages, not counting some stuff in progress.

I've also saved all the raw data from my Twitter account.
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emk
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 Message 608 of 1317
29 June 2013 at 10:23pm | IP Logged 
Crush: Here are two more good lists of French science fiction and fantasy from SensCritique.

Quand la fiction française dépote... La SF/Fantasy française qui fait pâlir de jalousie le reste du monde
SF, So Français !

A good way to find stuff on SensCritique:

1. Find one book/movie/series that you love.
2. Check the right-hand margin to see what lists include it.
3. Check the right-hand margin of those lists to find more lists.

Alternatively, go to the collaborative "tops" page, and optionally choose a tab for books, BDs, series, etc.


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