French Education

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Re: French as she is spoken in the UK

Just on a point of order: Fiona Bruce read French and Italian at Hertford College, Oxford. I suspect her level of fluency in at least 3 languages would put many who claim bilingual competence to shame.
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Re: French as she is spoken in the UK

I really don't know, mint, what poor Fiona Bruce has done to deserve a place on your hit list. Apart from the fact that she graduated from Oxford with a degree in French and Italian, If you watched any of the series "Fake or Fortune" on BBC1 (which I loved) she seemed to me to acquit herself very well indeed when Dealing with the Wildenstein Intitute and the Chagall committee in French.....
Don't want to end up a cartoon in a cartoon graveyard.
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Re: French as she is spoken in the UK

 NormanH wrote:


Then there are the sounds that don't really occur in the other language, or letters which are silent such as the 'knight' in English or the final 's' in almost all French words..

 

My attachment to France started by coming over every August bank Holiday to take part in a hillclimb with a group of other rosbifs.

We used to have great fun listening to the P.A guy struggling to pronounce our names, one guys surname was Knight and the guy pronounced it "knidjit" so was born his nickname of the ***kin idjit which remains to this day.


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Re: French as she is spoken in the UK

Oops, JSKS and Betty, perhaps I got Fiona Bruce mixed up with someone else?  Not too difficult these days as I don't really watch much TV.

I must say I have not heard any presenter "speaking" any French at length, just the odd phrase; for example, the anwer to a quizz question or to give the contestants multiple choices.  I am thinking Jeremy Vine here on Eggheads.

I do have quite a "good ear" and I raise the point because I seem to notice more and more how unattractive these presenters sound when they speak French.  So maybe FB writes better French than she speaks it?  I don't think I can really accept that, just because somebody has a degree in a language, that they are necessarily good speakers of that language.  I would expect them to have a very good knowledge of it but I still want to make the point that speaking is always in a category of its own. 

How many English graduates have you met who don't in fact write that well?  I can promise you that I have met a fair few when I worked in a job recruiting agency.  Certainly, I have met one or two people living in France who have degrees in French from British universities and I don't think they sound that good although I am certain that their grammar is excellent and that they write perfectly well.

Now, I shall name a couple of peoplein the public eye who do have excellent French.   I have heard and admire Stephen Fry and Anna Massey; they really do sound very refine and classy.
PS  Tony Blair is also thought to be an excellent French speaker but I don't think I have heard him speak in French.
 

N'allez pas trop vite - Proust
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Re: French as she is spoken in the UK

It's often a lot to do with your English accent as to how successfully you can pull off a French one, IMO. But as FB was partly educated in Italy, and I've heard her speak French, I reckon she's pretty good.
Having worked for most of my career with French people speaking English and vice-versa, I count very few among them who could manage to do so without a fairly strong accent. Edward Heath, IIRC, spoke correct French but with an awful RP accent, Arsene Wenger must have lived in the UK for a long time now and still hasn't lost his accent, despite an extensive vocabulary..JP Gaultier is practically incomprehensible in English, even if, when not speaking at warp speed, the words are all quite correct. And then at the other end of the scale you have Eddie Izzard, who has just released the DVD of his live stage show in French and who makes mistakes in a quite reasonable accent.
Boris Johnston, who had a French mother or grandmother or something, proved perfectly capable of being interviewed on French radio in French, and whilst he still manages to sound like Boris, his French and his accent seemed pretty good to me.
I certainly wouldn't say that the average French person speaking English is better at losing their accent than the average English person speaking French.
And, in general, we come back to the issue of language in general, and the fact that English is spoken widely enough that a huge number of people can manage to make a half decent stab at it.

Don't want to end up a cartoon in a cartoon graveyard.
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Re: French as she is spoken in the UK

what with 'already you' that the english say all the time............

........... and all those french people I know who say that they wear a 'sweet' ...........

I just have to accept that these things happen.


and I play along too........... as I would usually say Reims to english people as Reems, and not Rance as it should be said....... and maybe my accent is at play there, when I wrote 'rance'?Blink [blink]

And yes, mint, I do expect journalists and newsreaders to get these things right, there again, they often have problems with place names in England, never mind anywhere else!

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Re: French as she is spoken in the UK

Native speakers who work on the BBC and other channels cannot be bothered to speak grammatical English - they now can't distinguish between countable and uncountable nouns, for example. Perhaps it is all part of identifying with their audience, most of whom are ungrammatical as well.
Thibault
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Re: French as she is spoken in the UK

I was listening to a radio interview on France info the other day and I thought 'he sounds like Mick Jagger.' Turns out it was and he speaks very good French. Still sounds like him, but somehow his South London accent works much better in French. Tony Blair worked at the European Commission, where you have to be fluent in at least two of the European languages and understand a third. Accent and fluency are not really the same thing to my mind. Where I live here the locals speak with a very strong accent that is incomprehensible to many other French people but most are fluent in their own language. I'm not a grammar snob when it comes to TV presenters, but the ability to speak clearly helps
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