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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Word’s Power : “Une Araignée” vs “A Spider”

Some words have a power.

Therefore, because they have a form of newness, foreign words can have a very strong power. For me, for example, the world BETRAYAL is almost diabolical. It frightens me! Betrayal. It sounds like – maybe because of Belial? – the essence of the Devil. Who we call in France : Le Diable. Brrrr…

“Spider” sounds very innocent – is it? I think of spiderman, or of a little spider, an harmless one. I wonder what it is for English speakers… The French word for this fascinating animal is ARAIGNÉE.

For a French, the word ARAIGNÉE is horrible when you examine (and hear) it. You immediately see a frightening dangerous horrible spider. You don’t laugh anymore. You feel the chill along your backbone… It’s not cute at all. At all! And, oh, sorry, it’s feminine…

This word, araignée, is like containing the essence of it all. It’s haunted. You feel the creepyness of it, just with the sound : araignée. It’s awful, complex, vicious, archetypically incomprehensible…

Have you met someone like une araignée one day? What happened? Did you survive? Did she trapcatch you? Was she haunted by death or a curse? How come you realized she was one? A web? Dead eyes? Some weird skill? What was her venom made of? Did you sicksleep, or die slowly, or lose all reason? Did she have bored slaves (like the flies on the first picture)?

What are other terrible words? Why? Why are some words so charged?

Yes, yes : their buttonlike many eyes… Brrrr…

 

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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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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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“Pylons & Passing Lands” : Brain Meandering Vagrancy in a Train

Traveling by train is different. Plane is powerful and a bit frightening, and windows are seriously too small. In a car you have to focus on the road, and if you’re a passenger you often… talk to the driver, right? In a car, if you’re the passenger, there IS a driver, obviously.

When you’re alone, traveling by train is different. Windows are big. Today’s trains are really fast. You can breathe, sleep, even have a walk in the aisle… Your spirit can wander, c’est la rêverie, the dreamery.

So for this article I vocabularied a bit for my “brain in train” metaphor. I found : meandering (like a little train around mountains?), wandering (walking for leasure), rambling seems colored by “rambling discourse” : is it like drunk, or undecided?, drifting seems more lost, right?, sauntering seems more lazy, showing a silhouette, peregrinating, perambulating

In a two hours travel by train, alone, you watch by the window pane.

At first, your brain plays with your eyes. At 200 Mph, if you fix the ground (which is often the neighbor railroad) with a look, you get a fastblurred confusion, which is, in a way, very pleasant, a mix of “Oh that’s a fast train/Oh I saw something but it’s already gone/I’m lost in a time illusion/OK I let go sssshhhh”.

It can happen this : at one moment your head decides to separate its own work from what your eyes continuously, almost in a panic (“Hey it’s to fast, buddy!”) send to it. Here you are, unplugged.

High speed staring up gives you a dance of pylons and cables, you could really feel like you’re in a Steve Reich from Chicago to New York/One of the fastest trains music.

 

One sad thing though :

The high speed trains today need continuous railroads, therefore we lost the magic sound of train traveling, the famous “tak’tooossh-tak’tooossh-tak’tooossh-tak’tooossh”. This was, during long hours of the night, when I was traveling with unknown kids towards a new summer camp, almost comforting. Someone put a 8 hours (!) sound of this on YouTube :

 

If your staring activity comes from the ground then goes further, your brain will be pleased with this concept : the closer you watch, the faster it seems to go. If you watch in long range, things in the distance (a horse, a church, a village, a wood) move slowlier. That’s lovely, oui?

You wander, you dream without sleeping, your brain forgets the bridle…

But something has to be seen by the window. Hoooo a funny factory. Hooo these cows are funny. Hoooo a tall redhead in a lost station… Interruptions. Then you’re back in dreamery, in the moment, you watch your thoughts passing by, they’re not THAT important, you’re quiet, you… hey, but wait a minute :

Isn’t it meditation?

Thanks for reading!

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#wheat

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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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