French Language

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Re: How are your efforts to "learn more French" working out?

You are right about the French swearing a lot but I think that the Brits also swear a lot!  Or at least they appear to swear more now than they ever did.  Or it's just that I notice it more these days.  I am a bit shocked to hear the very young and the very old swearing....don't quite know why?

Certainly the *** word is used by all and sundry, even professional people.  Sometimes, they stop themselves just in time or look a bit guilty if I am around (maybe they think that it's something they shouldn't do in front of a foreigner)....NOT that I say anything.  It's just a word and allows people to let off a bit of steam.  I don't use it, or the English equivalent.  Not that I feel terribly strongly about it, it just wouldn't sound right from my lips, I think!

There is also the theory that there is no such thing as "bad" language, only inappropriate language; that is to say that words should be used in suitable circumstances where they should be just the right choices and then they just sit right and would not jar.

N'allez pas trop vite - Proust
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Re: How are your efforts to "learn more French" working out?

There was a brilliant series on BBC2 (I think) probably about 10 years ago now, which was a collaborative venture with the OED where the public were also asked for help in establishing the etymology and origin of certain words and phrases. It was fascinating, and certainly memorable for, among other items, an episode where Germaine Greer looked into the origins and etymology of the "C" word (which, incidentally, personal research and discussion has taught me is only considered quite so taboo in English: most other languages use it as an expletive with none of the "you'll be struck down by a thunderbolt" reactions we Brits seem to associate with it). Of course, many will already realise that it's a word that was used fairly frequently by the likes of Chaucer, and has been part of the English language for centuries. There was something very amusing about watching a programme where Ms Greer had a go at seeing how many times she could shoehorn it into a piece to camera on the BBC, all in the name of scholarly research.

Mint, you make an excellent point about register, or the use of language appropriate to the circumstances and audience. It's one of the many things which are hard to get right when speaking a foreign language.

I think I may have written of this example before, but maybe not. In the arrivals queue for passport control at La Rochelle airport some while back, a lady a few people in front of me in the queue was clearly a resident, returning to France with a friend who wasn't. As the queue advanced, she was telling the friend (quite loudly enough for everyone to hear) that she was sure the friend would notice how much her French had improved, as she'd been having regular lessons and trying to speak a lot more. All very laudable.
When she eventually reached the front of the queue and the window behind which the douanier was waiting to check her passport, she greeted him with a cheery (and totally inappropriate) "Salut!"
Don't want to end up a cartoon in a cartoon graveyard.
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Re: How are your efforts to "learn more French" working out?


So the border force officer should not have said "Hi" and smiled at us when returning to EMA?

French ones seem friendly enough too.
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Re: How are your efforts to "learn more French" working out?

@ Richard - so you're nowt but a young lad Smile [:)]
As for the C word, I read a series of Pepy's Diaries a few years ago and it comes into that sometimes.
It was a fascinating read, about 11 vols. Our local library had it.


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Re: How are your efforts to "learn more French" working out?

Great discussion points, Betty and Pat.  I wish I'd seen that programme you talked about.  I, too, am very interested in etymology and sometimes, when there are more than one explanation of where a word originates, you have to judge for yourself which is the most credible explanation.

BTW, the forum software is really very weird and selective.  That French word I mentioned is nothing more vulgaire than m.e.r.d.e.  It's used so often that I don't think it has any shock value at all.

N'allez pas trop vite - Proust
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Re: How are your efforts to "learn more French" working out?

Mint, if you'r e really curious and have time, the series (or parts of it) appears to be available on YouTube. It was called "Balderdash and Piffle"
Don't want to end up a cartoon in a cartoon graveyard.
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Re: How are your efforts to "learn more French" working out?

Great, I like the title.  Or maybe even codswollop and er that C word?Smile [:)]

N'allez pas trop vite - Proust
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Re: How are your efforts to "learn more French" working out?

Mint, I am always amazed how much joie de vivre you have, puts me to shame. I try hard not to swear, as I know I don't really know when and how - though I do know ras de bol, j'en ai marre, etc, learnt in one of my French lessons before I arrived here, but never used!

You are quite right, register is important, I have a book, Using French: a guide to contemporary usage (Cambridge U Pres about 2000 ... which is all about  about register ... and which words to use.  I decided at that point not to worry about what level I spoke, but to go for the middle of the road stuff, which has served me well enough.  It all depends on age, sex, geographical origian, and indeed your "class" to abbreviate ... fascinating, but I'll stick with what I can cope with.

But bravo to you for trying all this.

I have to agree, ce m'est egal is most useful in all sorts of occasions!


Judith
ex W1, via 47 and 11 and now [just] in 34, equidistant from Carcassonne, Narbonne and Béziers, where I hope we'll finally stay!!

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