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How many of your read French literature to broaden your French?

How many of your read French literature to broaden your French?

Jul 22nd, 2005, 01:47 AM
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je suis d'accord avec Florence, désolée StCirq! (oh my ears! )
I would personally say: "ça fait plus de 25ans que je ne suis pas venue en France", or "il y a plus de 25 ans que ..."
so aggie's suggestion was rather =D>

Underhill, G. Simonon is G. SimEnon.

I think Florence and I would be glad to help you in French if you hesitate about a special sentence. My English is far from perfect but my French is !
bonne journée!
cocofromdijon is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2005, 05:03 AM
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Letour, I've always like Flaubert's maxim that one should be regular and orderly in your life so you can be violent and original in your work. And Maupassant was noted as saying that truth should read like fiction and fiction should read like truth, which is the approach one would expect from a novelist who also worked as a journalist.
I have a collection of old Maupassant books, some translated into English, some French, mostly printed in the late 1800s and early 1900s. His style is refreshingly straightforward and contemporary, very easy to read.
BTilke is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2005, 05:27 AM
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Hmmm... I would say "Je n'ai pas voyagé en France depuis 1980".
rex is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2005, 05:36 AM
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pas mal rex! but it could mean you're already in France but you didn't move around (I could say that for ex) so to make it simple : je ne suis pas allé(e) en France depuis 1980(or "depuis 25 ans" if it is difficult to say dates)
now aggie just choose the easiest way to say!
cocofromdijon is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2005, 08:02 AM
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Thank you coco and Florence pour les lecons francaises! StCirq, I'm sure you didn't mean to lead me astray.

I really appreciate the input. I am very picky about knowing proper French. Years ago, I was very fluent and I prided myself on my accent. With a little practice, I'm sure it'll mostly come back.

Jul 22nd, 2005, 09:26 AM
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A good method is to get a foreign translation of a book that you know well in English.

At the moment, I am trying to read Sense and Sensibility in Italian.
MissPrism is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2005, 09:53 AM
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I was going to mention Simenon, but not for current slang as many of his books were written 30-50 years ago (or more). I do not care for mysteries myself, but enjoy Simenon's works that are not the usual mysteries, which a lot of people don't know he wrote. I liked Le Cheval Blanc very much, for example.

I loved Madame Bovary myself, but generally like Flaubert -- Education Sentimentale is another good one.

I do think reading French literature of any kind is useful for learning French or speaking it, not just writing it--that is because (at least for me), if you are not in the habit of speaking French a lot or often in your daily life, reading it immerses you in the language and is getting your brain to sort of think in French, which can only help your speaking ability and ability to form sentences quickly , etc. At least for me.

However, my best method for trying to learn very common slang or idioms is to watch French movies with English subtitles so I can see you phrases are translated, or perhaps even better, English movies with French subtitles. Now with DVDs, I suspect you could be watching a lot of movies and have French subtitles showing (although I like to do this in France at the theater).
Christina is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2005, 10:17 AM
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Christina this is absolutely what I do with dvds, listening and reading English at the same time helps a lot to understand.
BTW, Letour, Nicholas is Nicolas and my son of 9 loves it!
cocofromdijon is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2005, 12:13 PM
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..yes this is why I try to read modern mysteries or romances for the slang..french slang changes regularly as does English...think for example, the use of gay in the 30's, groovey in the 60s, the Homer Simpsonisms, and as my kids say now "whatever"...There is a problem though. I was watching a movie and picked up a few new words. I, fortunately, used them while speaking to a very good friend. After a few minutes of hysterical laughter I was told it really polite.
travelbunny is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2005, 12:51 PM
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Florence, I wasn't trying to mislead Aggie - was probably just talking on the phone and typing at the same time. You're completely correct - I don't know what I was thinking, but whatever it was was about the exact opposite of what she meant!

Sorry, Aggie
StCirq is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2005, 01:10 PM
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The major problem of most adults learning a foreign language is the spoken language, not the written language. Reading doesn't help much with the spoken language. And unfortunately about the only way adults can get some real practice in a foreign language is to go live for a while in a country where it is spoken.
AnthonyGA is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2005, 07:09 PM
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Andre Makine is one of my favorite contemporary writers for the moment.STUPEUR ET TREMBLEMENTS, by Amélie Nothomb (Belgian) was a big novel a few years ago. 20th Century writers I really like: Proust (very early), Breton, Perec, Barthes. Also like Flaubert's and Maupassant's short stories.
wrep is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2005, 07:48 PM
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StCirq - no biggy. I appreciate the thought and I ALWAYS learn more about France from you. Merci!
Jul 22nd, 2005, 07:51 PM
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I don't agree at all with Anthony that reading doesn't help at all with spoken language. I think it helps tremendously. Not only does it get your brain to thinking in French, I think seeing something in writing reinforces a lot the information in your brain. I also think that you can hear all kinds of things orally and if you never read it, you may not understand what words are actually being said (and with common street speech, even in your native language, it is hard to understand as many people do not enunciate very well or have accents or poor speech habits), but if you read them, you will understand the words, sentence structure and grammar better. I am not fluent in French, but am getting better as on my last trip, even the people in the hotel in Paris did not switch to English when speaking with me. Yes, of course I agree that to speak easily, it is important to be in a place where you are speaking French often, but I can't agree that reading French is of no value in speaking it.
Christina is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2005, 03:02 PM
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aggiemom, your phrase is better than StCirq's because of her use of etre. It should have read il y a plus de 25 and etc..
Michael is offline  
Jul 24th, 2005, 07:52 PM
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Thanks for your very thoughtful responses. I was taken with your first comment about the value of reading French in its original form, as the nuances can be lost via English translation. I definitely experienced some of that this past year, when I switched back and forth from an English version of, say, Madame Bovary, to the original French. I could understand enough of the French to discern that some expressions just didn't come through with the translations, and even, sometimes, the subtleties of meanings were altered somewhat.
I think that some of us are more more visual learners, and others more auditory learners. Like you, I think that I am helped by seeing things in print, so that I can at least make a visual "snap shot" of the word or expression. That way, when I hear it, I can refer back to it in my visual memory. Like you too, I agree that the best opportunity for learning the language is to simply be immersed, but even then, I think that I would be likely trying to read as much as possible to help build a framework for some of what I was learning--especially for words that were perhaps not so commonplace that I perhaps didn't hear every day.

I glad to hear that your French speaking went better on your last visit--for me, that improvement is so satisfying! Do you have people with whom you can speak French routinely? I have a few native French people at my place of employment, and they kindly tolerate my efforts to keep apace!
letour is offline  
Jul 24th, 2005, 08:50 PM
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Reading is good, but listening, and reconciling spoken with written French is better. My American husband says that French is terribly confusing because so many written letters are not pronounced, and so may sounds are weird!

Here's what I recommend:
- if your French is beginner to average. log on to www.euronews.net every day, and watch the news: they have the same script in every European language, ie. you can listen to them in English first, then in French, with the written script.
- if you're pretty proficient, check www. tv5.org, then "L''actualité mondiale": you will have the news in French, broken by subject/video.

There's also plenty of French papers/magazines/news on the net, eg. news.google.fr, www.lemonde.fr, www.liberation.fr, ...
laure is offline  
Jul 24th, 2005, 09:30 PM
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smalti is offline  
Jul 25th, 2005, 02:44 AM
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Having nothing significant to add but like smalti wishing to keep an interesting thread at the top:

Like St Cirq I was stuffed with French literature in high school and college - ended up with Sartre and Camus and Sisyphus heaving that rock up and up only to have it tumble down again. I could even read Chanson de Roland, but no more.

Reading French broadened my horizons a great deal. Which other nation has literary giants for its "heros" rather than military figures?

My second attempt at a Romance language was Italian. The Italians are very grateful that my attempts at their language have stopped.

Now on to my third Romance language: Spanish. Yes, the Spanish speakers are shuddering...
easytraveler is offline  
Jul 25th, 2005, 03:02 AM
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This is an interesting thread!

However, I'm ashamed to admit I really don't enjoy reading in French very much.
Despite living there for 6 years and being married to a Frenchman, I just don't get as much pleasure from reading in French as I do English.

This doesn't mean I haven't tried (or that I can't speak French - my spoken and written French is fine) - indeed I studied French at university and have read many of the classics and lots of contemporary works.

Perhaps because I have spent almost every working day for the last 6 and a half years translating written French documents, I can't sit down and read a French text without "translating it" in my head. And by that I mean mentally switching sentences and word order around, thinking about English equivalent expressions, considering synonyms, ambiguities... It takes all the fun out of reading and makes it feel a lot like work.
None of my translator friends seem to have this problem though. Perhaps it's a question of training (i've trained my mind to read French from a translator's viewpoint) and I just need to persevere with reading French for pleasure.

That said, one author I do enjoy reading in French is Amélie Nothomb (mentioned above). Short novels, fairly easy to read, and incredibly thought-provoking.
hanl is offline  

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