Friday, 26 June 2009

High Society 2

No it's not a sequel but I went for a second time to a performance of High Society because I was a volunteer. I sold raffle tickets and when everyone sat down I could sit down too and enjoy the performance. So I can now tell you more about the French connections. The first and main connection is that in America of the 1950s French is seen as the language to speak if you want to be part of high society. There are lines in the musical like tu veux jouer avec moi and c'est vrai absolument. There is a question quelle chanson? The answer is tu sais bien. In the song 'I love Paris' there is some French. I couldn't find it on the internet yesterday but I heard a last line something like parce que mon âme est là.

There were two other French references that I noticed. One character had been thinking and there was a comment about Rodin's thinker Le Penseur along with a Bruce forsyth type gesture. Finally one character is surprised and says 'my...' the next word starts as a rhyme with class but changes to eye. I cannot remember ever hearing the expression 'my eye' used in context as an expression of surprise and disbelief. The French use this expression in exactly the same way. They say mon oeil but they also pull the skin down below one of their eyes with their index finger. In fact they don't need to say anything as the gesture is enough.

A bientôt

Thursday, 25 June 2009

High Society

I saw High Society this evening (24th June) so I shall now write about the French connections. The person who played the journalist is called Mike and in the film the actor was Frank Sinatra. The character of Mike came from South Bend and in South Bend is Notre Dame University. OK this is a pretty tenuous link to a French blog and if you heard an American say Notre Dame then I don't think any French person would understand what they were saying. They pronounce it Dame as in Daimler as opposed to the French version Dame as in dam - rhymes with jam and m'am.

Perhaps the link you were thinking of is the song 'I love Paris'. When I was on a boat trip on the Seine I heard this music in the background. So the French know the music at least. I heard some French lyrics and I would love to write them down for you but I can't find them anywhere on the internet. If anyone knows these lines, there are only two or three, then please let me know. In the meantime I am going again tonight as a volunteer 'fire officer' (I think that is the correct title for someone who stands around in a shirt and tie) so I will try to jot down the lyrics.

A bientôt

Monday, 22 June 2009

C’est Combien?

How do you ask the price of something in French? C’est combien? is the usual way but as in English there are many ways of getting the same information. Let’s stick with c'est combien. What if you were asking for the price of one individual item? You would say c’est combien la pièce? If you ask the question then you should be aware of possible answers. You will need to know your numbers and if you have a rough idea of the cost then you will be more aware of the answer. Is it quatorze or quarante euros? If you have asked about individual items then expect an answer about individual items. Cinq euros la pièce may be your reply.

You can get answers like dix euros le kilo if you buy things by the kilo. Even in the 60s I was taught about kilos and kilometres but in England we can still be confused and want to buy things by the pound. Don’t let this put you off. You can always ask for cinq pommes or une douzaine d’oeufs.

If the shopkeeper has given you as much as you need then you can always say (c’est) assez merci. For this blog j’en ai assez.

A bientôt

Friday, 19 June 2009

Keep reading en français

I don't know if you watch House with Hugh Laurie. It is a medical series that has found it's way to France and changed its name to Dr House. It seems Hugh is advertising in French and this is one of his lines:

Hello! Mais que fait Hugh Laurie pendant que nous attendons impatiemment la suite de dr House?

This tells you a lot. It tells you that you can say Hello and you may be understood in France even though you won't find it in a dictionary. The French do say allo but that is on the phone. I like the word suite. It often translates as a sequel. We wouldn't say sequel here because it is a new series. We wouldn't say 'continuation' even though the next series will continue showing the programme. In this case la suite would translate as the next series, even though that's not how it literally translates. Also notice that there is no capital letter for Dr and that the French felt the need to add the title of doctor.

You can get a lot out of one sentence so keep reading en français.

A bientôt

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Quelle coïncidence!

I am going to a school today to do some voluntary work. It may just be observations on this first day but it means that I will find the motivation to write French and German blogs. Most of these blogs are about motivation because if you do the work for any subject then you will do well in it.

As a trainee teacheer you are given advice as to how to dress and I will be following that advice again today. On my desk calendar are the words

Il faut bien s’habiller pour les réunions officielles.

Quelle coïncidence

A bientôt

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Do you say 'to whom'?

I was looking for my own inspiration to write a French blog so I put on a CD by Edith Piaf and I was listening to La Vie en Rose. It didn't take long. Here is the introduction.

Des yeux qui font baiser les miens,
Un rire qui se perd sur sa bouche,
Voila le portrait sans retouche
De l'homme auquel j'appartiens

Then I thought, how do teachers go about translating 'to whom'. We don't even say this in English and for translations to have any meaning we have to start with a knowledge of English. The last of these lines translates as 'of the man to whom I belong'. It is unlikely that you will ever want to say this line in conversation, but you may want to fill in your own words for something similar. The football of the team to which I belong is a better translation than my team's football. How do I know? Because Edith Piaf tells me. Even if you don't believe me and you can't see yourself wanting this translation then at least learn 'de l'homme auquel j'appartiens' so that you can join in the singing.

A bientôt

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Pronunciation difficulties

If you want to be understood then you have to work on pronunciation. Nothing is difficult if you work at it. Now I am nowhere near perfect but I prefer my accent in French than I do my Manchester accent in English.

You may remember adverts from the seventies for Cointreau. It is made from oranges ripened in the sun, but if you remember the advert then you know that you hear a strong French accent. Another advert went like this: "Thees Cointreau and ice is like zee warmth of we French and zee cool of you Engleesh….. Voilà! zee ice she melts!"

The French can't pronounce "th". If you can see the difficulties that the French have when they speak English then you can start to understand why you have to do your best with French pronunciation. I was heading for the South West of France from Paris. We had travelled to Versailles and I was looking for directions to the next major city Chartres. It seems that this is one of the hardest words for me to pronounce but at least I know that I have to work on it.

A bientôt