Thursday, July 12, 2007

Today's French

A few notes on French:

1. Claire has been dreaming in French lately. I'm so jealous.

2. Some of the trickiest words in French for me are what they call the ''false cognates''. For example, President Sarkozy recently said:
"Je veux m'inscrire dans la tradition gaulienne, nos institutions actuelles sont les meilleures que la France ait jamais connues."
The second part of this reads: "our current institutions are the best that France has ever known". This is because ''actuelle'' doesn't mean ''actual'': it means ''present'' or ''current''. This gets tricky because there are also plenty of real cognates like ''Université''.

3. Today's word is a false cognate:
Cap: Cape, headland; bow. Mettre le cap sur: (colloquial) To set a course for...
''Bush maintient le cap en Irak malgré un rapport critique sur le gouvernement Al-Maliki''
''Bush is staying the course in Iraq in spite of a critical report on the Al-Maliki government.''


Holly said...

False cognates do also take the piss, in German. Worse, many of these come from the French. (Like aktuelle, which is current/ly also in German.)

Exhibit A: nervös, seriös, sensibel, sympathisch. None of these mean what they do in English. But then again, sometimes they do. And it's never, ever clear when they will. Or when the goddamn English word is coming into play. or when it's actually a French word, but pronounced the way Germans would, or a French word pronounced the way French would, if they couldn't speak German, and only French. There were so many times during Deutsch-als-Fremdspracher course that the instructor said, no, it's a French word, say it in French, and then he'd say it in a way that I'm pretty sure would get you punched in France.

Advertising is the word for this, it does make me crazy in the head.

What method(s) of learning French are you & Claire using? Greg has also dreamt in German; I'm not sure if I have or not, but I know I sometimes find myself narrating my day in German.

Holly said...

Er, whoops, meant to say, advertising is the WORST for this, not the word for it. It's early....

Rufus said...

Claire grew up during the Trudeau years when there was a push for bilingualism. Her parents had her in the immersion school all the way through. So she's fully bilingual.

Incidentally, I was watching one of the US Presidential debates and one of the assholes said, in a very authoritative way: "Look, bilingual countries just don't work." I sat there scratching my head, wondering what he could possibly mean. Sure, there are problems with Quebec separatists, but I don't think Canada has slipped into anarchy yet.

Anyway, I started teaching myself to read French after college because I figured that, since I was studying history, this would allow me to spend summers in Paris. I am now literate and can understand about half of what I hear spoken in French. I'm just starting to learn how to express myself in French, but my speaking is rough.

Holly said...

I'm envious of Claire's bilingual fluency. I definitely pick up words and grammars faster by reading, and it's pretty hard for me to speak, but usually I can follow what's said to me.

As long as it is said slowly...