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French, 22 years later - TAC 2013 PaX

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tastyonions
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 Message 33 of 70
10 January 2013 at 12:09pm | IP Logged 
I really enjoyed French In Action while I was watching it. I'm not sure why I stopped; I think I tried to progress too fast early on and the lessons got too advanced for me to follow most of the dialogue.

That's an interesting question about the "grand," and I don't know the answer either.

Also, I think it should be "merci *pour* la confirmation." But someone with better French can correct me if I'm wrong...
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Quique
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 Message 34 of 70
10 January 2013 at 12:35pm | IP Logged 
tastyonions wrote:
I really enjoyed French In Action while I was watching it. I'm not sure why I stopped; I think I tried to progress too fast early on and the lessons got too advanced for me to follow most of the dialogue.

I like it a lot. The only thing that puts me off is the amount of time/effort required for the workbook.

tastyonions wrote:
That's an interesting question about the "grand," and I don't know the answer either.

Probably emk or akkadboy can shed some light on it...

tastyonions wrote:
Also, I think it should be "merci *pour* la confirmation." But someone with better French can correct me if I'm wrong...

You are right again! It should be `merci pour' or `merci de' (explanations in Spanish).
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emk
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 Message 35 of 70
10 January 2013 at 3:42pm | IP Logged 
Quique wrote:
tastyonions wrote:
That's an interesting question about the "grand," and I don't know the answer either.

Probably emk or akkadboy can shed some light on it...


Well, since you ask, here's my best guess. :-) As with most such questions, the answer is "that's just how it is". But you left me curious, so I decided to dig a bit deeper.

First, the gender of chose is weird. You say une chose but quelque chose est arrivé. So you have to be careful about fixed expressions. As for grand-chose, the dictionaries aren't quite sure about the gender (one called it a pronoun and didn't list a gender at all), but Wiktionnaire has the following example:

Quote:
Pourtant, pas grand chose n’est conseillé par eux avant que ne se développent des cités et des méga-communautés. — (Jacques Danois, Printemps blessés)


But that still doesn't explain grand-mère. Further digging reveals the following explanation at Yahoo:

Quote:
"Grand" (sans "e") est l'ancienne forme au féminin de l'adjectif "grand". "Grand" est en effet invariable du point de vue du genre en ancien français. En français moderne, la forme "grande" avec "e" a été refaite par analogie avec d'autres adjectifs où le féminin se fait en rajoutant "e" à la forme masculine. L'adjectif "vert" était lui aussi invariable en ancien français.

Il reste en français actuel des formes figées où "grand" a gardé sa forme invariable primitive : grand-mère, grand-tante, "j'ai grand faim", "pas grand chose"...


(ancien = "former" or "old", se faire = passive constructed with se, actuel = "current", formes figées = "fixed forms")

That sounds pretty convincing, but just in case, the same page offers another half-dozen contradictory explanations from native speakers. :-)

Edited by emk on 10 January 2013 at 3:43pm

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Quique
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 Message 36 of 70
10 January 2013 at 7:10pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
First, the gender of chose is weird. You say une chose but quelque chose est arrivé. So you have to be careful about fixed expressions.

WTF! It turns out that there is a neuter gender in French (but only for a few pronouns), that manifests under the masculine singular form.

"quelque chose" is a pronom indéfini neutre. According to the Banque de Dépannage Linguistique of the Office Québécois de la Langue Française:

Quote:
Le nom chose apparaît dans plusieurs locutions : autre chose, qui signifie « quelque chose d’autre »; grand-chose, qui signifie « beaucoup » et qui est surtout employé dans des phrases négatives; peu de chose, qui signifie « une chose peu importante »; et quelque chose, qui signifie « une chose ». Dans toutes ces locutions, qui sont des pronoms nominaux indéfinis, chose perd son statut de nom et, du même coup, son genre; ces locutions sont donc neutres et les mots qui s’y rapportent doivent être au masculin et au singulier.


emk wrote:
"Grand" (sans "e") est l'ancienne forme au féminin de l'adjectif "grand" (...) Il reste en français actuel des formes figées où "grand" a gardé sa forme invariable primitive : grand-mère, grand-tante, "j'ai grand faim", "pas grand chose"...

It would be nice to get this confirmed by an authoritative source, but it makes sense.

Thank you, emk!
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Quique
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 Message 37 of 70
10 January 2013 at 7:27pm | IP Logged 
Quique wrote:
It would be nice to get this confirmed by an authoritative source, but it makes sense.

Confirmed (twice).

Quote:
En ancien français, il n’y avait pas non plus de différence entre les formes masculine et féminine du mot, qui s’écrivait grant, grand ou gran. On disait par exemple un ome grant et une feme grant. La graphie qui s’est finalement imposée est grand, avec un d final rappelant l’étymon latin. C’est au XVIe siècle que s’est généralisé l’ajout d’un e au féminin (grande) (...) L’ancienne forme féminine grand a survécu dans certaines expressions figées ou lexicalisées.


Some of these fixed expressions:
grand-chambre, grand-croix, grand-garde, grand-halte, grand-maman, grand-mère, grand-messe, grand-route, grand-rue, grand-tante, grand-vergue, grand-voile
grand-bande, grand-chère, grand-chose, grand-faim, à grand-hâte, grand-honte, grand-place, grand-salle, grand-soif
(ne) (pas) grand-chose, à grand-peine, avoir grand-peur

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songlines
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 Message 38 of 70
10 January 2013 at 9:38pm | IP Logged 
Quique wrote:
WTF! It turns out that there is a neuter gender in French (but only for a few pronouns), that manifests under the masculine singular form.



Interesting little snippets; Thanks, guys!
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Quique
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 Message 39 of 70
11 January 2013 at 2:24pm | IP Logged 
Assimil: Did lesson 39, and took dictation from lesson #9.
New words: garde-manger (larder), toile d'araignée (spider's web), serrure (lock), fouiller (to search), linge (linen), craie (chalk).

I was surprised by the accord (invités) in this sentence:
Il nous a invités à déjeuner vendredi prochain.

I googled a little bit, and it seems to be a real can of worms, with grammarians and linguists disagreeing.

I'll simply ignore it :-)
As of now, I just don't care about the correctness of Les arbres que j’ai vu planter and Les arbres que j’ai vus fleurir.
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emk
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 Message 40 of 70
11 January 2013 at 2:52pm | IP Logged 
Quique wrote:
As of now, I just don't care about the correctness of Les arbres que j’ai vu planter and Les arbres que j’ai vus fleurir.


Heh. When I ran into some of those rules in Grammaire progressive du français, I showed them to my wife, who is a native French speaker with a post-graduate degree. She looked at the book rather dubiously and asked "Vraiment ?"

So as long as I get J'ai vu les arbes, Je les ai vus and Les arbes que j'ai vus correct, I'm not going to stress about the more complicated cases quite yet.


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