All posts tagged: French

Adventures in Spelling

People like to share stories about the worst mistakes they’ve made speaking a foreign language. Asking your father-in-law to pass the condoms instead of the jam (préservatif =/= preservatives) Casually telling people that you’re horny while taking off your sweater (je suis chaud vs j’ai chaud).  But my worst mistake is way more basic than that. Once I forgot how to spell my own name.  I walked into the bank, steeled and ready to have a very awkward and broken conversation with the receptionist about making an appointment to open an account. All was going smoothly. I remembered that nom is actually your last name and they’ll probably ask that before asking for my first name, prénom. I had noticed that the French tend to say a word has “two Ls” instead of saying each L individually. I have three sets of double letters in my name so I was ready to test this new construction.  D-O-deux N-E-deux L-uhhh…. I totally blanked on the word for Y.  The receptionist stared.  I said it in English. I giggled nervously. I drew …

writing and writing and writing

I feel like I’ve been writing all day… I spent all morning writing cover letters, updating CVs, composing emails. I spent a few hours this afternoon writing responses to my online bookclub, engaging and discussing with other readers. Then, I edited all that job stuff some more. What’s worse is they’re all in French (except the bookclub!) which makes the process take about 10 times longer. Usually my job application process is pretty streamlined: Update resume with recent developments Write cover letter using the building blocks from countless cover letters I’ve already written Maybe send both to my mom or a trusted friend if I’m feeling really anxious Spend 2 minutes composing a simple introductory email to attach my documents to Hit send. Today my process is more like this: Study a whole bunch of examples of French CVs (they’re different than American ones!) Start my template with a healthy dose of copy/paste Google things like “professeur remplaçante description pour CV” to make sure I’ve got some French buzzwords to use Start my cover letter with a …

Bonjour Siri!

I’m sure everyone knows by now that the iPhone “personal assistant” Siri is one sassy robot. Try asking her how old she is, or to make you a sandwich, or to marry you, and she will shoot back with a pithy, often scathing remark. Being a nerd, my phone settings are in French, and so Siri also speaks French. Why oh why it took me over a year of iPhone ownership to take full advantage of Madame Siri is a mystery to me. Maybe I was afraid she would mock my accent. At any rate, late late one night a few months ago, when I was in the depths of my unemployment suck-fest, I amused myself for a few hours, finally catching up with the rest of the world, and learning some vocab at the same time! (scroll over or click each photo for English translations in the captions!)

Sopranos and Soccer Stars: why I chose French

One of my great friends in Chambéry was an outspoken and inquisitive Italian named Elisabetta. We hung out practically every weekend, cooking with friends, watching movies, but we had rarely spent much time one-on-one, mainly because we were surrounded by so many wonderful friends. One weeknight during the February vacation, all our friends had returned home, were traveling, or had family visiting, and not wanting to waste an evening, we naturally made plans, just the two of us. After watching a movie (Alceste à Bicyclette, one of my favorites!), we were cleaning up from dinner when Betta, sponge in hand, said, “Okay, sorry. I have this song in my head so I just need to play it, do you mind?” “Well, we’re in your house…by all means!!” And she put on the opening Witches chorus from Verdi’s opera Macbeth. Being just elitist enough to want to wake up with opera stuck in my head, but uncultured enough to know next to nothing about it, I pretty much thought that was the greatest thing in the world.

Un oeuf is enough

Have some jokes courtesy of my newly opened bag of Carambars! Quelle est la plus vieille ville du monde ? Milan ! Quel super héros donne le plus vite l’heure ? Speed heure man ! Que font deux brosses à dent le 14 juillet ? Un feu dentifrice ! Quel est le comble d’un juge gourmand ? Manger des avocats. Quel poisson n’a pas de certificat de naissance ? Le possion pané. But the real question is…..did he still have to get it translated to give to the MGEN???? ❂

The chicken.

One of my French teachers once observed the difference between French and English: English has a million words which all have the same definition. French has only a few words which all have a million definitions. How confusing is it that Je suis means “I am” but also “I follow” depending on the context. And don’t even get me started on the insane number of homophones; because of the mystical rules of French pronunciation, words like parler, parlez, parlé, parlais, parlait, and parlaient are all pronounced the exactly the same way.