Archive for the ‘francophonie’ Category

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).

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:

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.

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!

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.).

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.

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!

Sinatra did it “his way”.

There are a few standards which started out as French songs, such as “These Foolish Things” was “Ces petits choses”, “The Falling Leaves” was “Les feuilles mortes”, and so on. But I bet you didn’t know that “my way” started out as this song.

French pop/rock artist (also known as “yé-yé or “yeah-yeah”), Claude François, released this emotional song about a couple growing apart in November 1967 not suspecting that Comme d’habitude would become an international hit thanks largely to its English cover, “My Way,” written by Paul Anka and popularised by Frank Sinatra. To date, Comme d’habitude has been covered 1327 times by more than 570 artists and remains the most exported French song of all time.

I wasn’t going to post the original lyrics, but they are so different from the Sinatra/”My way” ones.

Je me lève
Et je te bouscule
Tu ne te réveilles pas
Comme d’habitude
Sur toi je remonte le drap
J’ai peur que tu aies froid
Comme d’habitude
Ma main caresse tes cheveux
Presque malgré moi
Comme d’habitude
Mais toi tu me tournes le dos
Comme d’habitude

Et puis je m’habille très vite
Je sors de la chambre
Comme d’habitude
Tout seul je bois mon café
Je suis en retard
Comme d’habitude
Sans bruit je quitte la maison
Tout est gris dehors
Comme d’habitude
J’ai froid je relève mon col
Comme d’habitude

Comme d’habitude
Toute la journée
Je vais jouer à faire semblant
Comme d’habitude
Je vais sourire
Oui comme d’habitude
Je vais même rire
Comme d’habitude
Enfin je vais vivre
Comme d’habitude
Et puis le jour s’en ira
Moi je reviendrai
Comme d’habitude
Et toi tu seras sortie
Et pas encore rentrée
Comme d’habitude
Tout seul j’irai me coucher
Dans ce grand lit froid
Comme d’habitude
Mes larmes je les cacherai
Comme d’habitude

Comme d’habitude
Meme la nuit
Je vais jouer à faire semblant
Comme d’habitude
Tu rentreras
Comme d’habitude
Je t’attendrai
Comme d’habitude
Tu me souriras
Comme d’habitude

Comme d’habitude
Tu te déshabillera
Comme d’habitude
Tu te coucheras
Comme d’habitude
On s’embrassera
Comme d’habitude

“My Way”

And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I traveled each and every highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way

Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way

I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried
I’ve had my fill, my share of losing
And now, as tears subside
I find it all so amusing
To think I did all that
And may I say, not in a shy way
Oh, no, oh, no, not me, I did it my way

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows
I took the blows
And did it my way

Yes, it was my way

Quelle langue est ma langue maternelle

An interesting question since I have spoken English, German, and French pretty much all my life and am functional in all three. On the other hand, there is the question of certification. For example, someone can be a native French speaker, yet not considered such for immigration purposes. The case in point is Emile DuBois, a French woman who was somehow deemed to not speak French according to Canadian Immigration authorities. The Quebec authorities decided she wasn’t a Francophone since part of her doctoral thesis was written in English! Eventually the Quebec authorities saw reason. On the other hand, I have a cousin who emigrated to Canada from the US and only had to converse with the immigration authority to be deemed proficient in French in Montreal.

Go figure!

Canada isn’t on my list of places I want to move to though: even the Francophone parts. I may like Quebec and the Gaspé, but I prefer France or Belgium.

Anyway, I had to say what was my “mother tongue” as part of my application for the DELF. I said “Anglais”. I don’t think it mattered much if it wasn’t French. Even then the purpose of the DELF is to show proficiency, even if one is a native French speaker. There are a lot of reasons for taking the DELF, business or personal. In my case, it is one of the requirements for French citizenship.

Le DELF B2 viendra!

I just registered to take the DELF B2 and will do so in December.

I’ve mentioned it before, but in case you weren’t paying attention:

The Diplôme d’études en langue française or DELF for short, is a certification of French-language abilities for non-native speakers of French administered by the International Centre for French Studies for France’s Ministry of Education. I am considered an Anglophone since I am not from France. There are a few reasons for wanting to take this test. One would be as a career step to prove your proficiency in French. Another reason is if one wants to become a French citizenship. There is a requirement of passing the B2 level to become a French citizen.

That means there are a few reasons I would pick the B2 level. One being it is less expensive than the C1 or C2 levels, which is where some non-official tests place me. The C levels would be something that would be attractive if I were still in the workplace. But I am not sure if they would have helped me much, short of moving to France back then. And the US Government would have picked the Hispanic Woman anyway for the international law jobs.

My career path ended up being completely unsatisfactory and feeling like that joke about the World Famous French lover who was on a game show as a lifeline. The punch line is that he wouldn’t have done anything the contestant suggested. Brexit happened and Britain will regret it happening sooner or later. I’m staying in Europe.

Je suis désolé d’avoir désactivé mon compte de fesses de bouc

Or I would be posting about a Senegalese TV show called “Wara”. It looks really promising.

Africa is one of the reasons French is gaining position in World Languages since there are more French Speakers there than in France! Another nice thing: Africans speaking French are way easier to understand than Parisians (think Cockneys).

Je l’aimerais!

This is a tangent from my post on data protection, but the Mormons have a couple of goofs in their Family Search database ( One was that my aunt was dead because of her age.

She isn’t.

The other is that my mother immigrated to the US from France in 1953 on the Queen Mary.

I wish! Since that would make things a lot easier for me post-Brexit. While my dad was the recent immigrant from Europe, any of his continental connections are tenuous. Short of being a Biden, I don’t stand a chance of getting Ukrainian citizenship. And there is no way in Hell I would want Ukrainian citizenship. First off, Ukraine isn’t a part of the EU. It probably won’t be too.

On the other hand, I would have no problem getting French citizenship if my mother was the one “fresh off the boat”. But my French ancestors came over in the early to mid 19th Century Think the time of Les Mis and you have the idea. Germany also doesn’t do citizenship through the maternal line, unless you’re Jewish and your family emigrated during the Third Reich. There’s another interesting story there. German citizenship isn’t high on my list, but I have seriously considered Polish and Portuguese. So….

My response to the “love it or leave it” crowd is that’s easier said than done. The States is a lot more lenient on people who are “lawfully present” than most countries. Most countries would fine the “unlawfully present” and stamp their travel documents to make life tough on them. The US welcomes them with open arms while making it hard for people who are trying to do things legally.

On the other hand, France makes it tough on both groups. Yes, French bureaucracy is as bad as they say it is.

Le monde francophone

Did you know that spreading the French language is a priority of French National foreign policy? Part of this strategy is to subsidise lessons through the Alliance Française and other cultural events. Another good point is that wanting to improve your French language skills is an aid to getting residency. Although, one has to prove proficiency by passing the DELF(Diplôme d’Etudes en Langue Française) level B2 examination as a requirement for French citizenship, unless you can pull off citizenship through a parent.

Another nice thing is that there are loads of resources for learning French online. While you can teach yourself French, I would strongly suggest having the help of someone who is proficient in the language help you. Especially since the DELF exams test not only your reading comprehension, but your ability to write and converse. That is your ability to use the language. It’s easy to read and listen, but a different thing altogether to speak and write.

Toss in that it is true that learning French is pretty much a lifelong process.

Technically, I am at an advanced level with my French skills, which makes sense since I have been pretty much speaking it since I was a child (same for German). My conversational skills suffer without using these languages on a regular basis. Things like Duolinguo, Kwiziq, and Frantastique are nice refreshers, but they don’t seem that practical on a long term basis. Frantastique is probably the best of the lot. It’s relatively painless to get started as they put you through a 14 “lesson” test period to find your level of skill. The lessons are cute, which probably makes them effective.

Kwiziq is a runner up. I started using it because it was good for grammar, but the problem with Kwiziq is that it is like a school that wants to push you to the next grade whether you are ready for the lessons or not. By that I mean there are a few questions on a subject. It never seems to me that you do enough of a drill to see if you truly understand the material. Of course, there are chatrooms and discussions for all three of these, which the developers say are what you should be using to get the result I hope to see.

Duolinguo determined that I was fluent after I passed its level 6 without even an understanding of the Passé antérieur. It has since added on quite a few more levels, but I’m not very impressed. Especially since it translated “Alle menschen Brueders sein” as “all people will be brothers”. They should have gone on to say “all people will be siblings” if they are going to trod that path (yes, I was marked wrong for my translation of the convention “all men will be brothers”). meanwhile the Gymglish German language program, Wunderbla said I was at the advanced intermediate level.

Anyway, there are more than enough French sites which teach French as well. I have a thing for Le Nouvel Observateur’s site:

The bottom line is that there are a lot of really great sites for learning French out there. Even better, you can improve your French in France.