Category Archives: words

Trés á la mode

I’ve skipped all the way to page 258 in my French textbook to become au fait with some words for clothing, and it’s got my knickers in a knot.

Some, thankfully, are cognates. Dieu merci! Remember their gender and we’re golden:

un pantalon = pants
un jean
= jeans
des sandales
= sandals
des bottes
= boots
des tennis
= tennis shoes (sneakers)
un polo
= a polo shirt
une veste
= a vest
un sweat
= a sweatshirt
un tee shirt
un short

Others make very good sense, so they, too, are easy to learn:

un pull = a pullover (sweater/jumper)
un manteau
= a coat, i.e., old English “mantle”
une robe
= a dress
une ceinture = a belt (who doesn’t want a cinched in waist?)
une cravate = a tie (we English speakers think of a specific kind of tie as a cravat)
un maillot de bain = a swimsuit (we use maillot to refer to one-piece ladies’ swimsuits; the french term is more general and includes men’s trunks)

Maillots

Some words are just plain cute:

des chaussettes = socks
des chaussures
= shoes
des lunettes
= glasses (little moons?)
des lunettes de soleil
= sunglasses (little moons that block the sun)

And some are crazy mixed up:

une chemise (feminine) = a men’s shirt
un chemisier (masculine)
= a ladies’ blouse
un blouson
= a jacket for either men or women

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Tempting temps

Today was very spring-like. The French word for spring is printemps, the charming prince of temperatures.

I’ve seen the word temps a few times in my studies, sometimes referring to the weather:

Quel temps fait-il au printemps? What’s the weather like in spring?

Il fait beau temps. The weather is fine.

L'Air du Temps by Nina Ricci

L’Air du Temps by Nina Ricci

L’Air du Temps. The prevailing atmosphere.

And sometimes referring to time:

Je suis pressé par le temps. I’m pressed for time.

de temps en temps … from time to time

juste à temps … in the nick of time (just in time!)

When both are used together, the resulting rhyme is quite poetic:

“C’est le printemps
L’printemps tout l’temps avec toi”
— Richard Petit, “Le Printemps”

~ It’s spring / spring all the time with you. ~

A springy playlist of French music: Enfin le Printemps! at ilovefrenchmusic.com

 

Words with feline friends

L’Académie française is one of five academies of L’Institut français. It’s 40 members, known as Les Immortels (The Immortals!), act as “official guardians of the french language,” deciding which words stay, which words go, and which foreign words should be blacklisted and replaced by french equivalents.

It’s pretty impressive they go to all this trouble to protect their heritage and language, and I for one am glad, because how disappointing would it be to finally get to France, only to hear everyone speaking English?

But apparently a majority of french people pay little or no attention to the recommendations. It was kind of a joke when they tried to replace the twitter “hashtag” with “mot-dièse.

I wonder if anybody checks their courriel instead of email.

Hashtag French

My cat makes me happy. You, not so much. Mort de rire!

A sad exemple de mots supprimés (example of deleted words) from Le Dictionnaire de L’Académie Française:

minon. m. Nom d’amitié que les enfants donnent aux chats.

“Name of the friendship that children give to cats.”

Minon!
Pourquoi dans le monde
would they get rid of such a lovely mot?
I know not.

French app: Memrise

Memrise is an app designed to help learn all sorts of things. Languages, art, math, even standardized tests.

I’ve been checking out the French section, and it’s not bad.

Memrise uses mnemonics (memory aids) to help you remember words and phrases.

“Je voudrais du café, s’il vous plaît.”

is one of the first sentences you’ll encounter. Very helpful for coffee drinkers like myself, and I love the politeness of “I would like, please” as opposed to “I want.” However, this is for purchasing a quantity of coffee. If I’d like a cuppa, I’d be better off saying “Je voudrais un café.”

The mnemonic is “voodoo ray” for voudrais. While it helped stick the word in my mind, it is not even close to an accurate pronunciation. So that’s a downside. Pronunciation is not my strong suit, so I don’t need any help when it comes to Americanizing the sounds.

I might check out Memrise’s other courses. 20th century Modern Art looks promising.

A question for French friends
Memrise translates “Je parle français” as “I can speak French.” Is it correct? Or is there a better way to say “I can” (I thought this would be translated simply as “I speak french”)?

French at the Olympics

The French have long loved the Olympic Games. French is even the official language of the Olympics. Be sure to listen during the Opening Ceremony tomorrow night (7:30 EST). You’ll get to hear many country names as they are pronounced en français!

The very first Jeux Olympiques d’hiver (Winter Olympic Games) were held in France— in Chamonix, in 1924. France has hosted a total of five Olympic Games (second only to aux Etats-Unis, the United States, which has hosted eight times): 1900 Summer Olympics, in Paris; 1924 Olympics, d’hiver (winter) in Chamonix and été (summer) in Paris (just another reason why Paris was the place to be in the 20s!); 1968 Winter Games in Grenoble; and 1992 Winter Games in Albertville.

I’d say France is due to host again soon, wouldn’t you? Rumor has it they’re planning a bid for either Paris or Nice for the 2024 Summer Games. If they win, I am so there.

Here are some sporty things to say in French:

Je vais au le stade olympique.
I am going to the Olympic stadium.

Je vais pour l’équipe française.
I am going for (rooting for) the French team.

Mon sport préféré est le ski.
My favorite sport is skiing.

Son sport préféré est le patinage artistique.
His/her favorite sport is figure skating.

J’aime jouer au hockey sur glace.
I like to play ice hockey.

Il est sur les podiums.
He is a medal winner. (He is “on the podiums.” Je t’aime!)

Elle a remporté une médaille d’or.
She won a gold medal.

Il a remporté une médaille d’argent.
He won a silver medal.

20140204-130002.jpg

Andrée Joly and Pierre Brunet of France, bronze medallists in pairs figure skating in Chamonix, 1924

Ils ont remporté une médaille de bronze.
They won a bronze medal.

Que le meilleur gagne.
May the best win.

Les jours de la semaine

The days of the week.

ENGLISH – FRENCH – SPANISH
Monday – lundi – lunes
Tuesday – mardi – martes
Wednesday – mercredi – miercoles
Thursday – jeudi – jueves
Friday – vendredi – viernes
Saturday – samedi – sabado
Sunday – dimanche – domingo

When I was young, I wanted to take French. Always. But it was never available. It conflicted with my schedule one semester, the class was too full the next. I ended up in Spanish. It was a disappointment from junior high all the way through college.

But the cool thing is, I ended up marrying a Spanish guy. Whether you believe c’est notre destin d’être ensemble (it is our destiny to be together) or it was just sheer coincidence, you gotta admit that worked out pretty well.

What also works out neatly is how many cognates (words that are similar or the same in two languages) there are between French and Spanish. Sometimes I recognize a word because I already learned it ¡en español! Yay.

Now, a few tidbits about los dias de la semana, les jours de la semaine.

  • Day names are not capitalized in French (or Spanish). You know, I don’t think they capitalize “french,” either.
  • Days are masculine so sometimes you see the article “le” especially when talking about recurring activities.

J’ecris le vendredi.
I write on Fridays.

  • For one-off occurrences, there is no article.

Le chat a mangé un oiseau lundi.
The cat ate a bird (on) Monday.

Henri Wanted

Mauvais chat, Henri. Bad cat.

I don’t speak French… yet.

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

But can an old chatte learn a new langue? Let’s hope so!

Je ne parle pas français… mais. I don’t speak French… yet. (Neither does the cat. He just likes how he looks in the beret.)

The purpose of this site is to collect useful and interesting stuff related to learning French.

Here’s the tentative posting schedule:

  • Lundi: livres (books) & learning tools
  • Mardi: le monde moderne (le pop culture)
  • Mercredi: mots (words) et marks (pronunciation, cognates, accent marks)
  • Jeudi: J’ai une surprise!
  • Vendredi: verbes, voyelles, et vocab

If you’re also a student of the language of love, join me. If you see mistakes, school me. If I like you, you may pet me. All comments – English, French, even catty remarks – are welcome.

Bienvenue!