Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Good or hate?

Sometimes you just need a few words in French and you can make a difference to someone's day. Bonne journée has so much more meaning than it does in English but have a nice day is still a nice thing to say. You won’t get many marks for using an adjective like bon as it is one of the first words you learn. The easiest way to say you don’t like something is to say it is pas bon but a greater vocabulary is always useful.

A nice person is sympathique but you have to remember that the French can’t pronounce th so it sounds like there is no h. If you struggle with pronunciation then you could stick with sympa for the same effect. Nice may mean kind, so aimable may be the word you are looking for. Nice-looking is beau or belle but you could guess this by thinking about the word you are using.

Life is so much better if you are using words that mean nice but occasionally things aren’t so nice. Détester is a verb that means to hate but you could probably guess that. There are so many other words for describing things you like and dislike and the more you learn the better, but don’t forget bon or détester.

A bientôt

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Can we learn to love French pop music?

There is a page on the BBC website entitled "Can we learn to love French pop music?" I really like French music so I was interested to read that a radio station was to be launched that would play mostly French music. Then I read that it was launched yesterday but is only for London listeners.

The tone of the article is not very supportive of French music and even those French songs that have managed to sell copies in England were not in favour. There were big French stars in the list of artists to avoid. It wasn't all bad news but I thought I would add a comment to try to redress the balance - and here it is.

I have many French CDs and music DVDs. If you really want to know how well the music is appreciated then look at the audience. Sang pour Sang by Johnny Halliday is really moving. I happen to like most French music and I have seen great emotion in singers and audience alike. I don't think that you can beat Brel's Amsterdam and even Joe Dassin's Champs Elysees is a real crowd pleaser. Bon courage to the radio station.

A bientôt

Wednesday, 23 June 2010


France have not done too well in the World Cup, or should I say la coupe du monde, so you may not know what the French shout out when they score a goal. Well the word for goal is but, but this sounds to an English ear like boo.

Another homophone is le bout which means the tip or the end. I was thinking about this word recently when I saw someone finishing a cigarette. Does the English word cigarette butt meaning a cigarette end come from this French word? I guess it does.

If you are a French football supporter then I suppose you could turn to another homophone (booze) but in French there is the past participle of boire, bu, that sounds the same. Whether it is but, boo or bu I think that there is a good chance au bout du compte (all things considered) that the French will turn to booze.

A bientôt

Sunday, 13 December 2009

La Mer

I have just heard a few words of the English version of 'La Mer' by Charles Trenet. It was in the background for an article on sea farming on the programme Country Tracks. I know the song because it is sung a lot in English. Occasionally you hear it in French and in French it reminds me of when I was on an Open University summer school. On Wednesday afternoon we were free to do what we wished and many of us went to Arromanches. When we saw the sea a fellow student broke into song and I was able to join him.

There is no chorus so if you wanted to take some part in the karaoke version then it is probably a good idea to try to learn the first verse.

La mer qu'on voit danser
Le long des golfes clairs
A des reflets d'argent
La mer
Des reflets changeants
Sous la pluie

Take a look at YouTube et chantez tous ensemble.

A bientôt

Monday, 12 October 2009

Un lèche-bottes

You may know that une botte is a boot but did you know a lèche-bottes is a servile flatterer? Well these are not words that I commonly hear in English but I have heard of sycophants and crawlers and even boot lickers but servile flattery is quite rare in my experience. So lèche-bottes is fairly easy to translate.

If you know that a PDG is the president directeur general which means you are talking about le patron, then you are in a position to understand “c’est un lèche-bottes du PDG”.

A bientôt

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Thanks to Sky

I have good news for my own motivation to learn French. I am now listening to Sky TV which was installed today. We have the sports channel and I can now watch TV5. I phoned someone in Glasgow who couldn't tell me which channels were French, for that matter neither could the person who sold Sky to us, but I know I have TV5 at least.

I do have other things to do like work and walking the dog and watching The Ashes but I can now listen to some French. I have just heard the words "merci à tous" so merci à tous at Sky.

A bientôt

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Théâtre Sans Frontières

A couple of weeks ago I received an advert of Théâtre Sans Frontières. This is a theatre company that tours the country. I have seen them a couple of times and they are merveilleux. So I had no hesitation in getting tickets for their show “Les Trois Mousquetaires”. If you hear the words “tous pour un et un pour tous” then you don’t need much of a memory of French to know what this means. Not only do you get great entertainment but you also get some French revision.

If you get the chance then do go and see them. Take a look at their website at www.tsf.org.uk

A bientôt