Don’t learn French, it’s a mess – Part 3 : “tu” or “vous”?

“You” is a little mess in English because one uses the same word to one or to a group :

“You come with us?” addressed to five persons is a problem : You to the group or you to one person of the group?

In French the first you is “tu”, and the plural one is “vous”. Therefore it’s clearer (even if in real life I know the context helps). “You come with us” means :

  • Tu viens avec nous (to one person)
  • Vous venez avec nous (to the group)

 

But we complicated it a bit much of course. Because in French you can only use “Tu” to persons you know very well : friends, family, or maybe little kids. First names = Tu.

The formal, polite way to address someone you just met, an employee, your superior or anyone you have to show respect, is not “Tu”, but “Vous”.

If you buy a coffee, if you’re a teacher in front of teens or adults, if you just met your future mother in law, you have to say “Vous”. Yes, like the plural. I know…

Therefore, “You come with us?” becomes :

  • Tu viens avec nous ? (to one person)
  • Vous venez avec nous ? (to the group)
  • Vous venez avec nous ? (to one person you want to show respect)

 

Yaah if you use the casual “Tu” to your new boss or to the waiter in a bar, you are clearly disrespectful.

The problem, then, is to find the frontier between both!

  • Some teachers (but not all of them) say “Tu” to students, even when they are 17 years old.
  • You can say “Tu” to your manager, but you’ll never do that with the top manager.
  • You will be asked by your future mother in law to address her with “Tu”, when you’ll know her a bit more. It’s often very hard to pass from one to another, and you’ll hear yourself telling back “Vous” sometimes. Maybe you’ll stay in that state!
  • We sometimes want to sound aristocratic for fun, and if you want to sound like a baroness, you’ll tell your mother “Mère, voulez-vous me passer le sel s’il vous plaît ?” insteat of “Maman, passe-moi le sel, stp” – “Mother will you please…” instead of “Mom pass the salt, please”.
  • Your “Please” becomes “s’il vous plaît” (formally), “s’il te plaît” (friends). Kids say for fun : “steup“.

 

To use tu is “tutoyer”. To use vous is “vouvoyer”.

I have a couple of online friends with whom we use only “Vous” in our emails – even if I’ve known them for 20 years. It gives a way I can’t really explain. A way to stand, to be focused and maybe elegant. It’s clearly a smile…

 

Let’s call it the “don’t call me by my first name” state…

 

Thanks for reading!

(and oh sorry for my English here)…

 

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Instagram : keri_karina

 

 

Don’t learn French, it’s a mess – Part 2 : “aller”

“To go” is cool when you’re a little French student : In the present “I go”, in the future “I will go”. I just had to remember “He goes” (not “gos”), and the preterit “I went” – but we early knew by heart our list of irregular verbs, right?

To go is “aller”, in French : this beast is constantly mutating! The present is “Je vais”, the future “J’irais”, and he’s back with the past : “Je suis allé”.

(by the way : “Go on” is “Allez-y”, but “Go ahead” is also “Allez-y”)

 

Of course you know that our first “you” (tu) is used for people you know very well, and the other “you” (vous) for a more formal speech.

Thus if you talk to a group OR to your mother in law, you say “Go on” : “Allez-y”, but if you talk to a kid ou your best friend, your “Go on” becomes “Vas-y”.

  • You have to go? : “Il faut que tu y ailles“.
  • They would go : “Ils iraient“.
  • Go! Go for it : “Allez! Vas-y!”.
  • OK maybe I should go now : “Bon, je devrais peut-être y aller“.

(I’m sorry)

 

Have a nice day!

 

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English words I struggle with

Lawmakers concerned about Trump’s mental state summoned a Yale University psychiatry professor who said : “He’s going to unravel, and we are seeing the signs.”

I understand it’s something about collapsing, but I’m not sure. It’s knitting vocabulary, right? When do you say that about a human being? Isn’t this verb a bit positive too (like unravelling a mess)?

I guess that stiff upper lip sounds UK, but I’m not sure? Do you use it in America? Does it mean composure and phlegm like in France, or is it colored with coldness? In French, “le flegme Britannique” is a way to stay calm in all circumstances, even if your house is bombed. Thus there’s an (almost) invisible smile in it.

I ask, because stiff is tough and rigid, right?

Shanty is a mystery. Is it a ruin, a small ruin, a sweet ruin? Isn’t it a little house? Is a shanty town a poor ghetto, or can it be a quiet chalet village for tourists? It’s a sailor’s song too??!

What’s the difference between ruse, trick, cunning?

I have a big problem with reckon. First, it’s a false friend, because “reconnaître” in French is “to acknowledge”. OK, it means to estimate and to consider, but also to think. In this last meaning, does it sound Southern, or do you say it in Massachusets too? Reckon on, reckon with, reckon without : do you SAY them?

To bedight : do decorate. Is it vintage? Never said? Funny?

To diminish, to dwindle : What is the difference? To peter into… When do you use this??

Colloquial and familiar…

Ohhh…

Someone told me one day that to learn a language is an infinite process. Tonight I feel terribly weak.

 

Have a nice day!

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Instagram : arrowvideo

“Vicarious” : How to learn by watching others #pedagogy #empathy

Vicariant en Français. Vicarious in English. What a strange word! It’s a concept and I put it here very simply, as a tool, or a seed. Do what you want with it.

Vicarious : Experienced through somebody or something else.

It’s all about learning, first.

There are many ways of learning. Albert Bandura was interested by one of them : observational learning. A way to learn is by watching others.

Social learning theorylearning is a cognitive process that takes place in a social context and can occur through observation.

Vicarious can be extended to other things.

For example : in the night your eyes can’t see, so you use your hands to “grope for” (en Français on dit “Chercher à Tâtons”, ain’t it cute?).

Vicarious : Experienced throught something else. To replace a function by another.

Think about this now :

Empathy is a vicariance, a Metaphor is a vicariance (a word for another), a Trauma can be vicarious (traumatised because you helped traumatised people), an Emulator is vicariant, and a Impostor is vicarious, etc. Once you have this tool, you can use it elsewhere.

Ref : Alain Berthoz, la Vicariance

 

Thanks for reading! Feel free to follow me!

 

I’m living vicariously through your pictures in Lille…

What about the “Ahh screw it!” moment?

In French, we say “Merde !” in three ways (probably more, but, well…).

  • Like you, when a sudden bad thing happen : “Sh*t!”.
  • But also, when we say “Oh et puis merde !”, “Oh and then sh*t!”, it means “F*ck it!” or “Screw it!”.
  • “Break a leg!”.

This is high level linguistics and translation skills, right?

“Screw it!”, in English, seems to contain a negative quality : “I don’t care, do whatever you want, I don’t give it a worry”. In French it’s the same, we would say “Oh et puis merde” after someone refuses our help for too long. “Naaaah forget it!”.

But ALSO it’s a way to smile and stand up. Acceptance. Stopping resistance (which was perhaps idiot). “Oh et puis merde” is a good thing, a way to let something pass, to let go, to accept an evidence, to stop being so cautious, too, it’s an opening, maybe risky, but right. It contains : “I stand up and I go for it. After all, it’s probably the choice to make”. And in English? Tell me…

There’s a pack of questions here. What happened? What triggered the button? What was the “waiting” made of? What kind of movement is initiated by the moment? Etc.

This moment is great. THIS second when you give up to your own rules and decisions and you jump into life, instead. This only moment could be the subject of a whole pack of short stories, right?

Oh et puis merde ! Let’s do it !

Thanks for reading!

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“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

When you realise your own language is sometimes uglyweird…

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.

Well, le Français, c’est ma langue maternelle. I speak French since I speak, and so there. But sometimes I talk with people from other countries, and always comes a moment… well… it’s embarrassing.

They say : “Are you crazy or what ?”. Or something similar, meaning ça va pas la tête ?

For example, to say “92” you say Ninety Two and that’s done. Good. Belgium people say Nonante Deux and it’s the same. But in France we say “Quatre-vingt douze”, which is complety twisted, something like “4 X 20 + 12”, which is correct, but, you know, hahahahaha.

For example, when you say “Last week”, we say “La semaine dernière”, but also “Il y a huit jours”, which means “Eight days ago”.

What ?!

“It’s not eight days, but seven, so why do we say eight ?”. I don’t know. Sorry. Plus : for two weeks we say “Il y a quinze jours”, which means “Fifteen days ago” : this is just wrong. Well…

There’s no tool here. Just an idea : if you want to learn french, prepare yourself to wander with a huge question mark above your head. A blue, white, red one maybe.

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