British North America is easy: it’s the other alternatives that are more interesting.   Leave a comment

It’s called Canada. There are a lot of issues which most people ignore, or are ignorant of, such as the Treaty of Paris from 1763, Quebec Acts, and other fall out from the War that really led to the War for Independence: The French and Indian War, La Conquête, or Le Grand Derangement.

Actually, the war that really made the US was not the War for Independence. That was the result of the previous war, which became a world war. Additionally, the North American Colonists got handed a bill for the war they started.

No, the taxes weren’t caused by a lack of representation: they were the bill for the war the colonists started.

On the other hand, North American would be a very different place had things gone differently in 1760. You can read the quick and dirty summary of what resulted here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_and_Indian_War#Peace. And from another Wikipedia article:

Anderson (2006) suggests that the war played a pivotal precipitating role in the American Revolution. He believes that the United States managed to become a nation through the influence of this war, and suggests that it should perhaps be known as “the War That Made America.”…The Fort William Henry massacre has shaped American cultural attitudes toward Indians. It was only one of many episodes of indiscriminate bloodshed and captive-taking and deranged relations between Indians and American colonists. Even in Pennsylvania, a colony that had never known an Indian war before 1755, resentment against Indians became something like a majority sentiment by 1764. Most Indian groups sided with the British in the Revolutionary War, and the animosity only grew.[..American novelist James Fenimore Cooper wrote The Last of the Mohicans in 1826, a widely read novel that was adapted for several Hollywood films. Cooper refers to the dangerous “savages” and shows their willingness to kill. The book creates a lasting impression of the untrustworthiness and dangerousness of Indians in general, according to Michael Hilger. One long-standing theme in American popular culture has portrayed the Indians as revenge-seeking savages looking to scalp their enemies…The victory of Wolfe over Montcalm was a decisive moment in shaping the self-image of English-Canadians, while Francophone Canada has refused to allow commemorations.

Now, what would the world be like had this theatre of action had gone the other way?

Even more interesting: what if the US-Mexican War had led to a US defeat?

Actualités de Brexit   Leave a comment

Now, I know where my news about Brexit will come from in the most part: Le Figaro.

Now I’m really surprised that I never made anything of my degree in European Legal Studies. Toss in my thesis for my JD dealt with fisheries. Maybe I should have asked the Greenpeace chief in Brussels for a job instead of hoping for big bucks in the world of business when I found out he was a neighbour (and all round nice guy).

Ouaip, Je reste en place pour l’instant.   Leave a comment

One reason I really hate the “mesures sanitaires” is that they cut down somewhat on my movement. I still am able to get around more than the average person, but there are still limits. At least, I’m not like my friends who were given a few days to pack up, find a flight, and go back to the US after a year long course. Still, it looks as if travel is limited as I prepare to visit my mother.

My wife said this to me in an e-mail this morning:

You indeed have led a very privileged life in comparison to my very humble upbringing…..I was never even on an airplane until my mid-twenties……….

To which I responded:

And I was on one when I was a couple of months old. Prop plane, so not a jet setter.

Yep, my first trip was to my dad’s family on a prop plane. I grew up speaking three languages: English, German, and French. Toss in phrases of others with the fact that Spanish and Italian are similar to French. But, I will admit to usually speaking English whenever possible.

Anyway, it looks like movement is going to be cut back for a while longer until the “crise sanitaire” is “resolved.”

Exam anxiety   Leave a comment

OK, I test in at either advanced intermediate (B2) or advanced (C1) CEFRA (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) level depending on the site doing the testing. I’ve been told the grammar on the French B2 is stuff that is pretty easy. Still, I am back at Kwiziq taking their tests, but I think they are like a US public school which passes you to the next level whether or not you are ready for it. Also, Kwiziq is really more about test taking than actual knowledge.

I have been reading the following French newspapers for the last year or so: Le Monde, Liberation, and L’Obs. They are all considered advanced by this website. I decided to take a peek at L’Express which they say is intermediate in skill level.

Compared to this Dickensian sentence from Le Monde

Il aura fallu près de dix années de mobilisation, scandées d’annonces aussitôt suivies de piteux démentis, mais le résultat est là : à Venise, depuis le 1er août, les bateaux de croisière de plus de 25 000 tonnesn’ont plus le droit d’emprunter au ralenti le canal de la Giudecca pour passer devant la place Saint-Marc, offrant aux croisiéristes un point de vue unique au monde – et aux habitants de la ville l’impression désolante d’être frôlés par des monstres à l’effrayante démesure. Jusque-là, ce parcours pouvait être emprunté par des navires allant jusqu’à 110 000 tonnes.

The amusing thing is that the three I read are considered Lefty. Liberation was “founded in Paris by Jean-Paul Sartre and Serge July in 1973 in the wake of the protest movements of May 1968. Initially positioned on the extreme-left of France’s political spectrum, the editorial line evolved towards a more centre-left stance at the end of the 1970s.” L’Express is conservative.

Go figure.

See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_newspapers_in_France

Translation of above:

It took almost ten years of mobilisation, scandalised by announcements immediately followed by pitiful denials, but the result is there: in Venice, since 1 August, cruise ships of more than 25,000 tonnes have no longer been allowed to use the Giudecca Canal to pass in front of Saint Mark’s Square, offering cruise passengers a unique viewpoint in the world – and the inhabitants of the city the distressing impression of being brushed by monsters of frightening excess. Until now, this route could be used by ships of up to 110,000 tonnes.

Love-Hate about the US-Europe

I have a long post simmering where I get into some of the things I don’t like about the US. Some apply to Europe as well, but that’s easy since Europe is basically a bunch of countries which have banded together because they finally figured out trying to kill each other made no sense. Although, there are a few people who still think it does. Part of this is due to watching (wasting a couple of hours) the first two episodes of something called “Tribes of Europe”. Europe has survived serious destruction without ending up like that series.

Portrait de la contesse Fouler de Relingue

Anyway, it sort of comes down to four things: food, culture, distance, caring for cities and countryside, and transport. We could get into the Oxford comma as well, but that is francophony-anglophony. The French will eat Grandma, but prefer their lovers….

I’m not sure I should make “head” jokes, but I am very certain some of my ancestors made it through the Terror. They were able to enjoy the bals des victimes, but they exited stage right when it came to Les Mis. I’m posting the cleaned up version of coiffure à la Titus which was popular post-terror. My race memory clicked on the painting by Guérin in the Louvre.

I don’t relate to US history and always thought that the Civil War monuments commemorated the Franco-Prussian War, which was the Civil War for me. My relations fought on both sides. A direct result was that my great-great-grandfather shipped his son off to the States to avoid Bismarck’s Army. It also set off a chain reaction of events which would lead to my being born in the US. The Second World War led to my father coming to the States.

The thing is that I can get the things I like in Europe in the States/North America, and some of the things I hate about the States exist in Europe. Although, it’s hard to get something vaguely like Europe’s history in North America. People in the US prefer the myth and have done a great job of wrecking the real history, but that is changing. Just not fast enough for my taste.

Still, I would prefer Europe to the States even if there were TGVs, the cities ended at defined boundaries, and there were really cool small towns out there that had restaurants that served exciting local food. As opposed to restaurants that are exciting because everyone is carrying guns–that’s not they type of excitement I mean. I left out more obvous old settlements. Places like Cahokia and Cahawba don’t do it for me since they were ethnically cleansed from history.

I didn’t get the Hudson Valley School of Painting and the concept behind it until I spent a lot of time on the ground (can’t make a good pun of “sur-le-champ”). But no matter what the appearance is, natural resources are limited. While the Americas have been populated for millenia, the cultures that populated them have been ethnically cleansed. Or are seen as a quaint. This quotation about the “First Thanksgiving” gets to the point:

One is that history doesn’t begin for Native people until Europeans arrive. People had been in the Americas for least 12,000 years and according to some Native traditions, since the beginning of time. And having history start with the English is a way of dismissing all that. The second is that the arrival of the Mayflower is some kind of first-contact episode. It’s not. Wampanoags had a century of contact with Europeans–it was bloody and it involved slave raiding by Europeans. At least two and maybe more Wampanoags, when the Pilgrims arrived, spoke English, had already been to Europe and back and knew the very organizers of the Pilgrims’ venture.

Most poignantly, using a shared dinner as a symbol for colonialism really has it backward. No question about it, Wampanoag leader Ousamequin reached out to the English at Plymouth and wanted an alliance with them. But it’s not because he was innately friendly. It’s because his people have been decimated by an epidemic disease, and Ousamequin sees the English as an opportunity to fend off his tribal rebels. That’s not the stuff of Thanksgiving pageants. The Thanksgiving myth doesn’t address the deterioration of this relationship culminating in one of the most horrific colonial Indian wars on record, King Philip’s War, and also doesn’t address Wampanoag survival and adaptation over the centuries, which is why they’re still here, despite the odds.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/thanksgiving-myth-and-what-we-should-be-teaching-kids-180973655/

I found that while looking for this clip. I saw it when I went to the Smithsonian Museum of the Native American the day my application for European residency came through. The speaker is Paul Chaat Smith (Comanche).

Unfortunately, the westward expansion of the English Colonies meant ethnic cleansing of the Native Americans.

Anyway, Paul, my family is supposed to have been there for that First Thanksgiving, but it’s a lot more difficult for a European to move back than most people realise. And changing North America for the better is tough with monied interests blocking the way.

Angèle – Bruxelles je t’aime

I learned about Angèle last summer. The person who told me about her said she was Dutch.

No, she’s Flemish.

I really understand this song: especially as I am now working on my being certified as a “Francophone”. This is despite having the French language foisted upon me.

I don’t have the same issue proving I am a German speaker.

Enjoy! Profitez! Geniet! Genießen!

Note that I posted that last bit in English!

BTW, the announcement in Flemish at the start of the clip relates to when the CD will be released. You can preorder it online. I did!

Ceci me fait rire!

Qu’est que c’est? OK, that’s the subject of a recent French Together post. Sure, most of the online French learning sites are below my level, but there are a lot of good ones out there: such as French Together and Comme un françiase (but she has a really thick accent). I’m into refreshers as well.

The article about Qu’est que c’est has a section: “A risky alternative to Qu’est-ce que c’est: C’est quoi (ça) ?”

You can guess where this is going.

’est quoi is easy to use: just add an article and noun, or a verb (or in certain cases an adjective) after it, like so:

  • C’est quoi l’amour ? (What is love?)
  • C’est quoi la philosophie ? (What is philosophy?)
  • C’est quoi ce bordel ? (What’s this mess/What’s this shit?)

Except C’est quoi ce bordel ? translates more like “what the fuck???” And the author advises:

Now you may be thinking, C’est quoi ce bordel ? (What’s this shit?).  But by listening to enough French people, whether in real life or in movies and TV shows, you’ll quickly be able to differentiate between a rude C’est quoi and a neutral one.

Posted 08/11/2021 by lacithedog in Uncategorized

La peur de la langue française

OK, I know I should be writing this in french (the joke DELF essay WILL BE in French), but I am feeling lazy. And this deals with grammar. My two weak points are grammar and spelling: mostly sloppy errors done in haste. But I do that in English as well. While Dutch/Frisian may be closer to English and English is a Germanic language: French also has a lot of similarities to English.

Beware the faux amis (false friends), those are the words that look a lot alike, but aren’t. There are a lot of words in English which have French roots or equivalents, which helps, but the faux amis are a pitfall.

A bit of advice I picked up in my review, while it’s about gender, the 100$ foolproof bit is pretty much universal:

No rule is 100% foolproof in French. There are a number of exceptions in word genders too. Those are a bit like double bluffs: it’s unfair, I know, and I apologize from the bottom of my heart. You will need to learn by heart, I’m afraid.

Actually, “learning by heart” isn’t really that hard, but it means practise a lot. Hell, I’ve been speaking French for as long as I can remember and I have problems. Not to mention that French people will admit that you don’t need to know all the verb tenses since some of them are found mostly in literature (e.g. passé simple). I was told I could get away with the easiest tenses for the B2!

This gets into why I am taking the B2 as opposed to the advanced (“C” levels). You don’t need to know as much to pass the B levels. The essay only needs to be 250 words (get ready for the joke essay), whereas the C level examination requires a REAL essay. B2 is the basic level for French citizenship, C is required for studying in a French university. Also, I’m retired: I don’t need to prove nothing to nobody. On the other hand, having the B2 is good for life, and becoming a french citizen.

Anyway, back to gender. The quote above comes from this cheat sheet on gender in Fench language. For the most part, it’s pretty easy to guess gender. If not, avoid singular items which allows one to use “les”, “des”, etcetera which avoid having to figure out the gender of something you are uncertain about if you don’t have a dictionary or grammar checker handy. But French is so difficult that most grammar checkers are worthless.

I’ve already given a plug for Karen Remy O’Tooles “How to Cheat at French Verbs” (ISBN ‎ 978-0982901946), but I can’t say enough about it. I know I will pass the oral section of the B2 exam with her help. Verbs are only intimidating if you are writing in French.

Reading is easy since it is recognition memory, but the DELF does ask some weird questions in the reading comprehension section. but my scores are passing in that area. Not that they don’t need work.

Anyway, french can be intimidating as heck, which I think is intention on the part of L’Académie Françiase, the keepers of the French language. Or the jerks who don’t want you saying things like septante, huitante, or nonante, as opposed to soixante-dix, quatre-vingts, or quatre-vingt dix. IMO, nonante-neuf is less of a mouthful than quatre-vingt-dix-neuf. But L’Académie is dedicated to the purity of la langue française against foreign invaders, such as English.

Blame them if you’re having problems with French.

La Marseillaise: ‘The Greatest National Anthem in the World, Ever’ – BBC News

I was looking up versions of La Marseillaise to post when I pass the DELF B2. And in the spirit of BREXIT, I post this clip that came up.

I’m liking this guy more and more…

Between his thing with an older woman and this headline.

I said Molly Shattuck should have gone to France back in the day. And Emmanuel Macron proves me right. Molly had no relationship with her alleged victim. On the other hand, Brigitte Macron was Emmanuel’s teacher!

Molly gets convicted and has to register as a sex offender.

Brigitte ends up married to the President of France!

Vive La France!

And moving on…

Better yet, the word “gerbe” can mean a couple of things.

The first is a garland of flowers, which this article in Le Monde is referring to with the phrase “deposer une gerbe”.

The second meaning is to puke, which I learned by missing this question: L’enfant gerbe, present tense of “gerber”, c’est-à-dire, en langage populaire, l’enfant vomit. Exemple : J’ai gerbé toute la nuit à cause de ce kebab. (I forgot this was in French when I posted it: The child pukes, present tense of “Gerber”, that’s to say in popular language (or slang), the child puked all night long because of the kebab.)

OK, maybe Macron DID puke on Napoleon’s tomb, which some people would find appropriate since Napoléon has a checkered career. Puking on Nappy’s tomb really makes me like the guy.

Maybe Molly can petition Emmanuel for French citizenship and a pardon (Venez en France, Molly, nous traitons les femmes comme il se doit.).

So, does that mean that Dick Grayson REALLY would have had a Bat Mitzvah????

Hedy Lamarr

It seems that the comic has made Bruce Wayne Jewish. He doesn’t look stereotypical Jewish, but a lot of Jewish people don’t fit the stereotypical idea of what a Jew looks like. Case in point: Hedy Lamarr who happened to be the model for Walt Disney’s “Snow White”.

She was Jewish.

Anyway…

OK, I know that a Bat Mitzvah is usually for the young women, but everything Batman does or has is prefixed with “Bat” So, it seems only logical that Dick Grayson would have had a Bat Mitzvah.

And confused the heck out of everyone not into the “secret identity” thing.

P.S., if this were occupied Europe, I would have been the person you went to for the papers to say you were NOT Jewish if I were in the position as a cop, prefect, etcetera who issued the documents.

Cœur de Pirate–Oublie Moi

J’aime bien cette chanson mais je préfère la felix cartal remix version. J’aime pas seulement car cette chanson est Quebecoise. Tu surprendrais si tu penses que je étais un anglophile.

Encore mes devoirs: Un peu de polémique.

J’ai regardé Le Journal télevisé de France 24 et j’ai lu le reportage à Le Monde:

Le gouverneur du Texas, Greg Abbott, déclare qu’il croit que tout le monde a le droit à la vie. C’est fascinant puisque le Texas a à la fois la peine de mort et la loi du « stand your ground ». Les lois sur la légitime défense modifient le concept de légitime défense pour le faire dépendre de la peur subjective de la personne qui invoque cette défense légale. En revanche, Emmanuel Macron veut « relancer le combat pour l’abolition universelle » de la peine de mort dans un discours prononcé au Panthéon pour marquer le 40e anniversaire de l’abolition de la peine de mort en France. Il y a une différence manifeste entre l’attitude envers le droit à la vie au Texas et en France.

Le Texas semble croire que la peine de mort soit efficace pour prévenir le crime : même les exécutions extrajudiciaires. Mais la peine de mort est-elle efficace pour prévenir le crime ? L’un des anciens bourreaux de la Grande-Bretagne, Albert Pierrepoint, n’est pas d’accord. Il a dit : “Cela ne les a pas dissuadés à l’époque et cela ne les a pas dissuadés lorsqu’ils ont commis ce pour quoi ils ont été condamnés. Tous les hommes et les femmes que j’ai affrontés à ce moment final me convainquent que, dans ce que j’ai fait, je n’ai pas empêché un seul meurtre…”. Robert Badinter, l’ancien garde des sceaux qui avait fait voter l’abolition en 1981, agrée « conviction absolue : la peine de mort est vouée à disparaître dans le monde car elle est une honte pour l’humanité. Elle ne défend pas la société, elle la déshonore (…). Vive l’abolition universelle ! »

On passe des questions de justice pénale à celles de la santé lorsqu’on relie le droit à la vie aux choix de planning familial. Au lieu de cela, le Texas a choisi de faire un remake d’Une affaire de femmes de Claude Chabrol. C’est une histoire qui se déroule pendant l’occupation allemande de la France. Il s’inspire de l’histoire vraie de Marie-Louise Giraud, une des dernières femmes guillotinées en France. Le crime de Mme Giraud était de fournir des avortements aux femmes pauvres de France. La loi du Texas n’est peut-être pas si extrême, mais l’effet est le même : ce sont les pauvres qui seront touchés par cette loi. Les femmes aisées pourront se rendre là où l’avortement est légal, ce qui n’est pas une option pour les pauvres. Les fournisseurs d’avortement pour les pauvres seraient des femmes comme Mme Giraud, pas des professionnels de la santé, mais des femmes qui voudraient aider d’autres femmes.

Je dois me demander si le Texas comprend vraiment ce qu’un système de justice pénale devrait faire ? Est-ce qu’il cherche la justice ou la vengeance ?

On écrit un article au DELF B2

D’ac, ça semble facile. On a besoin d’un longueur de 250 mots. Il y a aussi quelques phrases pourraient faire “filler” : Par exemple, d’abord, ensuite, en revanche, pour conclure, et cetera (on ne met pas un virgule en français avant “et”, car c’est un parti de la liste). Puis on mettrait ses pensées d’augmenter le nombre de mots à 250 (c’est le minimum des mots requis pour l’essai écrit). Ils ne vous demanderont pas d’écrire un article comme un pro, bien sûr.

L’avis est: “Mais la mise en page compte toujours à l’examen du DELF B2, alors mieux vaut respecter certaines règles. Pour plus de clarté, voyons la présentation générale d’un article sur un schéma. ” Les schémas sont trouvés partout l’internet. À ce moment, je suis presque au minimum des mots requis! Et je n’essaie pas donc ça sera facile.

Trucs et astuces pour apprendre le français

It’s great to live in the world of the internet and computers since it makes it a whole lot easier to study languages on your own if you have to. There are lots of great websites out there for learning languages. I’ve tried most of the Gymglish sites and like Frantastique. I was going to say I like it a lot, but not really. It can be disheartening if you are not committed to learning a language, but the tricks and tips are where this post is heading.

Online translation software (e.g., Google and DeepL) also gives pronunciation, which is helpful for learning. My weaknesses are grammar and spelling in written French, spoken French isn’t that hard. At least at the everyday level–it gets harder if you move into academic French (intermediate and beyond, or B2 and the Cs). The first trick is spoken French is actually pretty simple most of the texts out there are great if you are taking academic French.

Verb tenses, to get a major headache out of the way, but the book How to Cheat at French Verbs (ISBN: 978-0982901946). You really only have to worry about verb tenses in written French, things get really simple in spoken. My French teacher is an invigilator for the DELF B2 in another city, but she told me that only three cases are truly needed for the spoken: passé compose, futur proche, and “present progressif” (“être en train de…”). Anything else is icing on the cake (e.g., subjunctive, conditional, and definitely passé simple).

And the internet is filled with native French speakers ready to teach you how to listen. Getting a native to have conversations with is harder.

Things get more interesting when you move to written French. Apple OS is the best for that since it makes it easy to type the accented characters. As someone who used actual French language keyboards, that is a total blessing. Hold down whatever character you want; For example “e” and a window will open showing the following: è é ê ë ē ė e. Then pick the character you want. That works on iphones, ipads, and Macs. The Mac gives you options of Hachette’s French Dictionary and English French dictionary. IPad and iPhone only have the Linguee dictionary, but it is truly multilingual!

Bon Patron is a good grammar check, but it’s not great. It beats trying to guess if you are missing something, but it also misses things! Avoid using the machine translators (e.g., Google, DeepL, et al) since they are OK for simple text and might offer useful suggestions, but that isn’t always the case.

The best thing would be to find a helpful native, but that is still diffilcult!