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Learning French

School & Public Transportation Vocabulary

un débrayage – short stoppage in work, not necessarily caused by a strike. Can include short protests against something that cannot be changed, complete with speeches that cannot be heard over the noise of uninterested students happy to have an excuse to miss class. Also the cause of unexpected trous in one’s schedule (see below). […]
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Je cherche une voiture automatique.

I’m trying to find an automatic car that isn’t too expensive so that I don’t have to take the train to work anymore. Comprehending car ads in French is no easy task. And thanks a lot, paruvendu.fr, for recently removing the search function that specifies boîte automatique instead of boîte manuelle. ::sigh:: I am not […]
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Je suis de retour.

So I arrived in Geneva late Tuesday afternoon. My luggage, however, did not. It was sunny and 75 when I left Michigan. Here it’s cloudy and 50. And it took us 3 hours to drive back to Annecy from the airport when it normally takes 40 minutes. Welcome back to France, indeed. Being in Michigan […]
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Why French Grammar is Hard

Sam’s recent post about the three nouns in French that are masculine when singular, yet feminine when plural (amour, délice, orgue) got me thinking about other ridiculous grammar rules in French. So I give you (some of the) reasons why French grammar is a cruel joke for those trying to learn it: 1. Use of […]
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FIA Addiction

Just when I decide I need to get off my computer and do things in the real world more often, I agree to start writing summaries of French in Action episodes for the FIA Wiki created by my new favorite blog, Mystère et boules de gomme ! I’m going to write up a new page […]
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Food confusion

Last night, David decided he wanted to make fajitas. So we went to Leclerc and finally found the tiny international section (international meaning Mexican and Chinese). There was one brand of fajita mix, Tex-Mex something, so we grabbed it and started collecting the other ingredients… onion, pepper, chicken… and corn? I never ate Mexican food […]
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Rage against the… books?

I have this habit of taking online French placement tests, just for fun. (Most language schools’ websites have free tests you can take.) The majority of these tests focus on verb conjugations and agreement between nouns and adjectives. In other words, grammar. This is why I always get near perfect scores on these tests even […]
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This one is for Leah.

Dix choses que vous ne saviez pas au sujet de moi… 1. I’ve been working on typing comparative vocabulary lists of the Romance and Germanic languages for, oh, about FIVE years now. And I’m still not done. It’s just so mind-numbingly boring to sit here and type word after word in Excel. But the finished […]
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Les argots

More and more, I’m starting to believe that there is a secret society that banishes authors from teaching real French in any books. French has such an astounding number of slang words and expressions, as well as a spoken form that is sometimes nearly unrecognizable from the written form, that I truly believe this entire […]
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Poisson d’avril

A French joke. Two cats were swimming across the English Channel – an English cat named One two three, and a French cat named Un deux trois. Which cat made it across the Channel first? The One two three cat won, because the un deux trois cat sank. Get it? Un deux trois quatre cinq… […]
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