You should hear a French classroom trying to pronounce LE English!

I learned Latin and I hated it. To translate Latin is like to open a clock and take it to pieces. In a minute there’s a mess on your desk, and you want to chuck everything in (which doesn’t help at all). Then, have a beer and watch the sky thinking about the Romans. When in Rome

I learned German. Pronunciation was fun (ahh the ch sound in “ICH”!), but their sentences are bags of knots with the verb at the end – “I know that Kansas in the USA is” – and words are too crazy for my Frenchiness. Try to say Schlittschuhlaufen (ice-skating) or Streichholzschächtelchen (little box of matches). OK. Bye bye!

 

I began English at 11 years old and I liked it. As kids already, we were training our American accent on recess time, playing indians and cow-boys, with a faked and imaginary drowning nosy duck John Wayne accent. Imagine us in short pants running everywhere like crazy swallow birds, saying in loop “wayne right wayne right way yeah I kill you right okey” in a pinchedy nose tone. Yeahhh.

The first thing we struggled with is the ze. Well : THE. We don’t have this “tongue between teeth” thing here. So, well, ze French often tell ZE, and with consequences : Zat music, Zhere it is, Zis is gonna be hard. EVERYSSING will be!

Then, as we like to say the “R” differently, we struggle with your way of saying it. Strrrrruggle is a good example, by ze way. Romance is pronounced RRrromance here, we had to learn Wwomance (oh, this makes suddenly sense!). We had to get used to it, including the ending R, like in RIVER. Hear this classroom munching “Rivehhhwwwaow“, oui?

The first time I read the word “River” out loud in the class stays a trauma for me. I was 11 and I said “Ryver” (because I knew that “Life” was NOT pronounced “lif” but “life”).

– “Not Ryver, River, Jean-Pascal”.

What ze?????!
Today, what stays difficult for me is : the accentuation in words (what, you say “Word Stress”? Really??). Therefore, I don’t know what to do with PREsent (the gift) and to preSENT (the verb). You’re all crazy, that’s what I say 🙂

Where’s the accent on TELevision? TeleVIsion? Eekkk! OK I can say Tivi.

I had difficulties with words like Flaw of Law (we always pronounced this one “Low” in class) – this is such a strange sound, and I hate to open my mouth like that. For Christ, it seems I’m about to drool, being astonished and to swallow a fly at the same time! The LAAAH.

We said NEW like niouw, and I never would have guessed that American people say Noo York for the city. And if you don’t say the k letter in knife… why is it needed?! Nife would do the thing…

Little by little, I make progress though. I know that English blogging for a French is absurd, in a way, but it is not :

 

Thanks for reading! Have a nice day. Look : it all ensnowed! :

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“Help yourself, the sky will help you” – and cats and ducks

“Heaven helps those who help themselves”.

In French it’s not heaven, but… the sky. It will help you. Aide-toi, le ciel t’aidera.

I find it interesting that you use “heaven” in English, instead of God himself. “Heaven helps those who help themselves”. Does that mean that people understand that they can NOT ask God himself to help them (find a place for your car, pass your exam, change your life)? Yep : He has probably other and bigger fish to fry.

In French, we would say “Il a d’autres chats à fouetter” : “He has other cats to whip”.

Really? Yes really.

So… Help yourself, the sky will help you.

Nevertheless :

It seems to be a good advice (even if there’s no God or Heaven or Sky to “help” you). This invitation to act (with an implicit “Instead of complaining”) sounds a little like :

“Move your ass, silly, and maybe you’ll get something”. Okey!

This decision process is a funny thing to study. “To begin, begin”, said the wise man. But how? First, your have to find your goal, right? Then…

  1. Action, go go go, push, push towards your goal, drive your way towards it.
  2. Observe what’s around, find where the flow flows, rotate little things to facilitate flows… towards the goal. The flow. Where it goes. That’s important!

I already wrote something about 2 : The Propensity of Things.

Who says “Help yourself”? Your mother? Your friend? Why? Do they want to help you really? Are they angry of your laziness? What can happen? Where’s YOUR flow? Did you consider it? Or do you constantly work against it?

What’s the worse that could happen? You help yourself, you move, you change things, you try, you… fail?

Well, not THAT a big deal, right? “Y a pas d’quoi casser trois pattes à un canard” is the French way to say “Nothing to write home about” :

That doesn’t break three legs to a duck

Mmhh, makes sense?

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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Quiff is a mess & French frou-frou noiseling : an #ESL struggles with English words…

One pleasure of ESLing is to gain vocabulary.

This week I watched a clever crime movie, Body Heat. Smart dialogs offer you new words – and I watched it in English with English subtitles. Each time I find an unknown word I remotestop the film and I check on my phone, and it’s… almost always a problem (because the French words are, obviously, “not exactly” what yours mean, it’s always a bit… displaced).

All these words were totally new to me :

  • Outsmart seemed easy but it’s not : beat by cunning, surpass, foil, thwart – what is it exactly? I like the way it’s made : “Out + Smart” (could be offsmart, right?). We have “déjouer” in French, which could be “de-play” or “out-play”. I love the cousinning of all these.
  • Rustle is great. I imagine it’s non human, something in a tree or maybe from a dress’ fabric, right? We have bruissement in France, and as “bruit” means noise, it could be… “noiseling”. I wonder what’s the difference with creasing or crumpling. We have in French the delicious “Frou-frou” for the “dress swish”, the word says it all, right?
  • Searing is clear, but then, when don’t you say burning? Is it… more painful? More red? More intense? Can you use it to talk about meat (then is it spoiled, or delicious)? What is scorching, then? Can I have a searing memory?
  • Arson is “setting fire to property”, but is it a law word only? Could I use it metaphorically, like I want “to arson my feelings/my past”? Where does this word come from?
  • Quiff is a mess. I found the hairstyle thing, OK. But what’s a “quiff’s eye”, then? A “haughty little stare”? (Haughty? Really? New word again… which led me to “your high horse”, a clear idiom, for once). But for quiff I also find “legitimate spouse” (really?), which seemed the case in the movie I was watching.
  • Askew : where is it used? For a hat? For a life? Does it sound vintage or do young people will say it about your eyes (or your books on the shelf)… askew?

 

Where does it come from, to feel such pleasure, exploring this? I don’t know.

Feel free, ô my reader, to make things clearer in the comments. Maybe it’ll help my brain (and some other’s) to understand these daily subtleties…

Thanks for reading! Bonne journée !

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Instagram : _bodylanguage_

Wonderfool Dayda Cacography : Eye Spelling!

I tried 241 times to pronounce Dakota (“DayGO-Da”?) until I gave up and pronounced it the French way (as it is : Da Ko Ta, plain and simple). Watching Ghost in the Shell, I heard the word “Data” many times, mimicking it to learn something, until I understood that DATA is pronounced DAYDA.

Foreigners make mistakes. This morning I woke up with some words in my mind, this marvelous way one friend of mine described my lover at the time : “Quelle formidable folle!” – What a wonderful fool she was, indeed. I woke up like : Wonderfool.

So I googled it and discovered this : Eye Spelling, Eye Dialect, or Pronunciation Spelling – nonstandard spelling but doesn’t indicate an unusual pronunciation.

women : wimmin
gentlemen : genlmen
listen : lissen
light : lite

Nooooo I won’t use it, it’s too dangerous. I could “get mixed up” (is it good English? Become mixed up?), though I know that it’s really used to get the “dialog” mood : kinda for kind of, wanna for want to. Also, it’s used for marketing purpose of course : I found “Froot Loops” cereals, froot for fruit, of course.

Now think about this group names : The Beatles. The Byrds. And the way rap groups use U instead of You.

Tool : What will you do of that? What could you invent? Where? Why? A name? A brand? A groupe name?

A deliberate comic mispelling is called CACOGRAPHY. I love that word so much that I almost fainted… Awweee!

 

Have a good day!

Jean-Pascal

 

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Merde alors ! : “Polite swear words?” – Some #ESL concerns…

Everyone in the world knows for good that, when you learn a language, the first things you want to know are bad words, insults and other blasphemies.

But you are in the merde if you want to swear… politely. Sometimes you have to! In front of kids in a class (“Oh dear”, “Oh my goodness”) or your grandparents, right?

Instead of saying “shit“, I heard one day Brian Eno saying “Shhhhite” (like realizing there was a cam, he had to finish his “shh” in another way). I liked shite!

One friend told me that kids could use “Oh snap” instead of it.

Today I googled a bit and found :

Son of a beach, mother trucker, or “Motherfather!” (haha), holy buckets (??). Ice hole. Shazbot. Dirty bear. Cheese and rice (instead of Jesus Christ). Sugarfoot. Upsy Daisy.
Shiznit. Chappaquiddick, etc, ohlalaaa.

“Get stuffed” instead of “fuck you”. I just found “up yours” : REALLY? That’s GREAT!

I love the simple and smart  “What the eff”.

“Rats!”.

One site advised to use Old Swearing Terms, like Fopdoodle or Zooterkins. And what’s “Crummidy Dum Dum”? Well, dear, I need some help here…

Bleep yourself : “I lost my bleeping pencil!”.

These pages :

 

Well, in France we sometimes use the Belgian ones…

Thanks for reading!

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Instagram : clara_ferreira_alves

Patterning Unusual : thus my own casual #blogging #French #poetry – #ESL #meta

“It’s what I do that teaches me what I’m looking for”, says Pierre Soulages (painter). This is exactly what I felt when I began to blog in English.

Well, I’m French, and if I’m able to write in English, I’m still and stay an ESL (English as Second Language) guy. It’s a strange way to stay focused, I can tell you!

I thus know I make little mistakes everywhere. At the beginning I asked some friend to fix them, then I had to think about it and decided to let go, and forced to learn a certain form of casualness.

There are mistakes left – I hope it’s a little charming (?)…

I add some French words here and there, voilà, your turn to learn!

I have to make it short too, because

  • 1/ I know you don’t have time
  • 2/ I’m not skilled enough, and my vocabulary is poor

I learn new words and idioms in each article, though, because I have to dig for them (I use Word Reference now, my neighbourtab all day long). Call it “ESL stairs”.

I also don’t care about inventing new words (I often aggregate two), most of the time because I hesitate between two.

As I present tools, dials and levers here (which are usable concepts, right?) in one-paged-articles, I really have to forget to be rigorous, and I know I take many shortcuts. That’s fun (or funny?) –

I catalog here all the tools I found useful in my life, and it makes me explore my shelves, which is a source of good bliss and reassessment – oh a new word!). I hope some of you will peck the seed…

I really observed and gazed at some other people’s blog to understand how to pattern and structure articles, and how to title them. I did it my way, then…

 

All this produce a sort of “Poetic License”. My few norms are strong (produce a short tool minilecture), but I really acquired a freedom I had to learn… from being an ESL.

Some neuroscientists say that having another language is good for the brain. Why wouldn’t you try to blog in French, ehhh?

Thanks for reading! Bonne journée !

 

 

In French, there’s a SPACE between the word and the exclamation point

In English :

  • GO!
  • Do you Love me?

In French :

  • ALLEZ !
  • Dis, tu m’aimes ?

Well, so what? Oh, nothing, dear! But it’s SO deeply rooted in me that when I write in English I have to think about it. It bothers me like a “mistake I have to write”. I gives a tight aspect of the end of the phrase. And each time I write in French, I feel relieved, like, errr, when a woman takes off her bra after a long day. Ahhhhh.

Aaaah, relief!

Aaaah, quel soulagement !

It’s like… well… It’s like the end of the phrase needed some AIR. I like to imagine that… it’s linked with our sense of slowness. La promenade. There’s no hurry to put a “!”, let it breathe, voilà.

 

Thanks for reading ! For reading!, sorry. Follow me!

#snoopy #charliebrown #peanuts #comics

 

 

“A little bike in the coffee pot” : idioms about craziness

Let me present you two French idioms about craziness :

  • Il travaille du chapeau (he works from his hat)
  • Il a une araignée dans le plafond (He has a spider in the ceiling)

Both say the same of course. I found in english :

He has a screw loose (I love this one!), he has bats in his belfry, but also “go bananas” (more angry? Then we’d say “Il a fait un caca nerveux” : He made a nervous poo) or “Out to lunch” (which seems slightly different and both made me laugh for ten minutes, at least).

OK, we have more too in French :

  • Avoir les fils qui se touchent (his strings are touching each other)
  • Parler aux murs (he speaks to walls)
  • Il lui manque une case (he lacks one compartment)
  • Il a un pète au casque (he has a bump at the helmet)
  • Il est pas fini (he’s not finished)
  • Il a un petit vélo dans la cafetière (he has a little bike in the coffee pot).

Like it? Try this page in French. For example, Portuguese say “He has little monkeys in the attic”.

Well, there’s something weird upstairs, right? 🙂

Thanks for reading!

#dance #bw #farist

 

“Quirky Churning”, The Happy Fisherman Tale, or how I really got new words #ESL

Learning English is a pleasure I can’t really describe… but some people in America, (learning French) understand me because they feel the same BIG INNER SMILE when they make further progress. Why, et pourquoi? Je ne sais pas… It’s like feeling your own brain growing like a little tree!

In my about file I wrote :

OK I’m french. My english is a frenglish, it’s rusty and wobbly, et voilà. Try me, though. I’ll do my best. I promise. If sometimes it’s too bad, just laugh at me or roll you eyes.

And of course I make mistakes! For example, I find really hard to remember that you don’t put a space between a word and “!” and “?”. In France we do ! Sorry : we do!

How can I get more words, vocabulary or idioms, out of learning stupid lists?

The more effective way has been to read a book in english, underlining all the things I don’t get (words, but also “in context complexities” or phrases constructions), and then ask to a native speaker.

In a conversation, you can ask “when and where” a word is used (rarely? daily?). It’s the way I heard about this word, “quirky” (original, bizarre, excentrique, et aussi sans doute farfelu). Each time I get one, I’m like a happy fisherman, thankful. Merci!

When you text with a native speaker, you sometimes meet a strange word, a never seen word, it’s like meeting a little trinket in a King Cake!

Yesterday I heard about a “churning brain” for the very first time in my life! I didn’t ask, this time, but I checked on the Reverso app.

The old pyramid of “how do we learn” (Google image it) is pretty accurate here.

Meeting native speakers learning French taught me another thing :

When you have to explain a word and a way you use it, you enrich yourself, you climb too!

PS : A higher level is to watch a movie without subtitles. It goes fast and my brain overheats, like “running after the meanings and getting it but stop you go too fast silly!”. Haha. Not for two hours. Or with the English subs, thanks.

Merci ! Bonne journée ! Thanks for reading!

#leaves

“A Well Seasoned French”, or how to be an ESL is a source of poetry

Being French, learning English from day to day, is a source of poetry, of mysteries, of surprises and difficulties.

ESL is for English as a Second Language. I always liked to learn english. From my 12 years  (“Andy has a dog, his name is Mustard. Andy loves his dog”), until now. I have happily a few friends today who can help me if I have questions about English.

It’s not about vocabulary (you have pretty good websites about this, my preferred one is Reverso). It’s mostly about the subtilities, and idioms, too.

(My last question, for example, was for the word “crafty“. I asked myself if it was colored negatively or not. A little girl who can repair her doll alone, she’s crafty ? Hummm… Good dictionaries gives me : sly, clever, shrewd, cunning, but nobody seems to be able to explain me the subtilities, sigh…)

What you don’t know, you English or American people, is the whole pack of complicated subtilities you have to dig when you are NOT from there.

I got an example just today :

I had a friend who’s blog was named, let’s say, A Well Seasoned Article. I loved this title so much ! You know why ? Because I thought that she built “seasoned” like :

“a preterit to Season (like summer, winter) for a poetic use”

I loved it ! I did not know, until today, that seasoned meant “flavored”, or… “experienced” (and the circle closes itself, isn’t it crafty ?).

Well, do you remember that you FORGOT that the name of the group The Police is based on police ? And that you don’t think about Washington (the man) when you say Washington (the State) ? Well, when you learn a language, you are new to many words. You realise that you can watch a watch, that “hang up” the phone is a bit illogical (“UP ? Really ?”), and that you have to dig, really, to understand the differences between Impressed, Awestruck and Dumbfunded.

More : some English words are written the way French words are. Sometimes it’s fantastic ! If in a poem you read “She sang”, you just see a woman singing, but “sang”, in French, means “blood”. Immediatly, she sings under (or to) the clouds, and these clouds are dramatically red. A whole landscape appears. Funny, right ?

Other example : pain, in French, is bread. Each time an ESL reads you have pain, you have some bread. Voilà.

Your language, you see ?, is a bit strange, or tastier when you’re a foreigner. Yum ! Food !

Let’s invent this tool :

If you’re blocked on a text, an article, a paragraph, translate it ! If you’re a bit lazy, you’ll have to make it simpler. If you are full of energy, you’ll search for subtilities in the “other language” : it’ll give you ideas, patterns, new lights, seeds.

 

#chocolate #chocolat #lenôtre

 

 

 

 

Is your Insulin Pump a Female ?

OK I’m French. When I began to learn english at school I was interested, but also surprised by two things.

1 : In English, things have no gender. In French, things do have a gender. La voiture (car, female), la maison (house, female – does it make sense ?), le soleil (sun, male) et la lune (moon, female).

OK, I know, “un arbre” (a tree, male) is difficult to say for an American…

So you see ? For us, a car and an house, the rain and the moon are female. A pen, a month, a tree, and the sun are male. In France, a dress (une robe) is female, and trousers (un pantalon) : male.

Well it doesn’t matter, you could say. But i does matter, poetically at least, no ? A car is obviously a female, for a French. I assure you !

2 : In English, possessive pronouns agree with the possessor. It’s the contrary here.

If the car belongs to Mary, it’s HER car. But if it belongs to John, it’s HIS car.

Well, in french, il s’agit de SA voiture. Her car. In both case. Because it agrees to the noun !

…and a car is a female, as you know.

So, well, your insulin pump, this little assistant, une pompe, is a female. Say hi !

Tool : in case of lukewarmness, just check the french translation. Add the gender in front of each element. Then try a little systemic therapy, hahaha.

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