A Poodle is a Poodle is a Caniche

What’s more French than a French poodle?

When one thinks about the cliché of Paris one often thinks of the Eiffel Tower and people wearing berets and carrying baguettes and walking poodles.

When one thinks about the cliché of Paris one often thinks of the Eiffel Tower and people wearing berets and carrying baguettes and walking poodles.

That’s why I was surprised to learn the other day that many French people don’t know what a poodle is. I spoke to a French person, who even owned a poodle, and they did not know what a poodle was.

“Poodle” is actually an English word.

In French “the poodle” is «le caniche» (pronounced kan-ish-a).

The caniche gets its names from “canard” (duck).

Duck = canard (kan-ard)

Dog = chien (she-awn) (remember chien, by thinking that a dog bites a the mailman on his shin.)

The Caniche/poodle were originally bred for hunting ducks.

As a duck-dog you can imagine that a caniche would love water. This is where the name “poodle”comes from.

Poodle is the Old English name and it comes from the word meaning “swimmer”. The word poodle comes from the same root word as puddle.

“Puddle” in French is «flaque» pronounced flack.

Prince Rupert and his Poodle.
Prince Rupert and his Poodle.

Famous Poodles of History

During the English Civil War Prince Rupert, who fought on the side of the king had a pet poodle named “Boye”.

* (Prince Rupert of the Rhine 1619 – 1682, was German, He was the nephew of King Charles I of England.)

In this drawing, you can see that Prince Rupert’s poodle looks more like a lion than a dog. The traditional hair cut of a poodle was based on that of a lion.

The traditional haircut of a poodle was intended to look like the mane of a lion.
The traditional haircut of a poodle was intended to look like the mane of a lion.
A drawing of a lion, looking more like a hound, from the Book of Kells. Created around 800 A.D.
A drawing of a lion, looking more like a greyhound, from the “Book of Kells”. Created around 800 A.D.

Lions are mentioned in the bible and the Roman and Greek texts, but I have often wondered if the people of Medieval Europe knew what a lion really looked like. Some of the early pictures from the “Book of Kells”, which was made around the year 800 A.D., the lions look more like greyhounds than big cats.

The Crusades may have changed things as many European soldiers traveled to the Middle East and North Africa and saw lions first hand. The first Crusade started in 1069 A.D.

Lion Rampant
Robert the Bruce’s pet lion on his Lion Rampant

After returning home from the Crusades many of the European kings even kept lions as pets in their own personal menageries.

King Robert the Bruce of Scotland (1274 – 1329) had a pet lion which appears on his Lion Rampant flag.

I guess for the common people, owning a poodle (or a caniche) would have been the next best thing to owning their own personal lion.

We own two cavoodles. A cavoodle is a cross-breed of a Poodle and a King Charles Cavalier – Spaniel. My daughter picked them out because I am somewhat allergic to dogs. The cavoodles are low allergic. I love dogs but our last dog I could not even pet without getting allergic.

Big Ollie and little Thistle having a nap in the sun shine.
Big Ollie and little Thistle having a nap in the sunshine.

It worked and I’m not allergic to Ollie and Thistle our two black cavoodles.

I never saw myself as a person that would own a poodle, but these guys are great dogs. They are amazingly fast, they are also great jumpers and spend a surprising amount of time walking on two legs.

If they want to see over or on top of something they stand on two legs, unsupported and can walk around like this. This isn’t a trick that they have been taught. (I wonder what Charles Darwin would say about this.)

I have been in the park and met other dog owners including purebred poodle owners. A full-size poodle has almost the exact build as a greyhound.

I’m no expert but when you see a full size poodle and a greyhound stand side by side they both have the same rounded chest and slim hips and long legs (see the picture of Ollie the larger of the two cavoodles above). They also have the same pointed upturned nose of a greyhound. And both breeds have long thin tails.  Poodles, in my opinion, are basically greyhounds with afros.

Their personalities seem to change with every hair cut. Where the dogs that I have had in the past have always had hair that didn’t need to be trimmed  poodles (cavoodles) doesn’t shed. Which is good for allergies, however, their hair just keeps growing.

Our cavoodles have had some very interesting experiments in hair styles. We tried the more traditional poodle styles on Ollie. Which made my daughter and me break into laughter when we picked him up at the dog groomer.

Ollie had changed so much! It was as if our happy little puppy was suddenly appearing on a Paris catwalk.

Ollie had the shaved nose which made him look a little stuck up. And he had shaved paws which made him look like he was wearing gloves and a puffy shirt.

Ollie with his Teddy Bear style hair cut.
Ollie with his Teddy Bear style hair cut.

Ollie now gets what is known as the Teddy bear look. The hair on his snout is left a little longer and cut rounder.

We don’t go to the dog groomer anymore as it’s cheaper if I do it myself.

 

 

Julius Caesar’s Conquest of Gaul; Book Review

 

519fas41zwl-_sx322_bo1204203200_“The Conquest of Gaul” (Penguin Classics)
By Julius Caesar
with Jane P. Gardner (Editor, Introduction),
S. A. Handford (Translator)
The Conquest of Gaul (Penguin Classics)

 

 

 

One of the first books ever written (or in this case dictated) about that land we now know as modern France.

Julius Caesar’s “The Conquest of Gaul” was originally named in Latin “Commentarii de Bello Gallico” (Commentaries on the Gallic War).

Gaius Julius Caesar Born 13 July 100 B.C. – died 15 March 44 B.C.
Gaius Julius Caesar Born 13 July 100 B.C. – died 15 March 44 B.C.

The French language as we know know it is classified as a Romance language, that is a Roman Latin based language. Julius Caesar was the Roman that first brought the Latin language to Gaul.

Brennus demands his spoils of the battle, by Paul Jamin, 1893.
Brennus demands his spoils of the battle, by Paul Jamin, 1893.

To set the story up the Romans were terrified of the Gauls.  A number of Gallic tribes of very large and very fierce warriors had attacked and sacked Rome in 390 BC. These tribes were led by a chieftain named Brennus. This is according to the accounts of the Roman historian Livy (Titus Livius who lived 64 B.C. to 17 A.D.)

Livy: The Early History of Rome, Books I-V (Penguin Classics) (Bks. 1-5)

These Gaulish invaders looted Rome and burned parts of the city to the ground. All Roman records before this date were destroyed. In fact in Livy’s own words he points out that the earlier stories of Rome, such as Romulus and Remus being suckled by a she wolf, were more legend than fact.* After the Gaulish invasion 390 BC official records were again kept. All the factual Roman history starts from this date.

* Trivia: I read that She-wolf was a nick name for a prostitute
This can be confirmed on Google Translate – She-wolf = lupa.
(‘lupa’ also translates as = whore, prostitute, she-wolf, harlot.)

After recovering from this almost catastrophic defeat Rome made preparations in case the Gauls ever returned. Money in the form of bars of silver and weapons were set aside should the Gauls ever attack Rome again. A Governor was sent North of the Alps with Roman soldiers to watch for signs of amassing armies marching towards Rome.

There is a story from the time when the Gauls where occupying Rome. The Gauls who were taller than the Romans also seemed fearless. When asked if there was anything that they were afraid of the reply was, “We fear only that the sky would fall on our heads.”

Asterix the Gaul
Asterix the Gaul

It’s hard to know what this meant exactly. Was this some sort of boastful banter? Or was this a real fear of lightning or some forgotten encounter with a meteor shower.

Those of you familiar with the French cartoon “Asterix the Gaul” by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo will recall that the fearless Gauls in the comic strip are often afraid of the sky falling on their heads.

Asterix the Gaul: Album 1

In the cartoon series Asterix the Gaul lives in the time of Julius Caesar.

Fighting cocks depicted on an ancient Roman m
Fighting cocks depicted on an ancient Roman mosaic.

The word Gaul or Gallus in Latin translates as = cock, rooster, or Gaul.

The Gauls were often said to have strutted with pride like a rooster. Roosters are fierce animals who will hold there own against larger farm animals including dogs. Most Roman soldiers were farmers and would have known firsthand about the fighting prowess of roosters.

For two centuries the Roman’s fear that the Gauls would return sack Rome a second time.

"Marius the Great Amid the Ruins of Carthage" by John Vanderlyn
“Marius the Great Amid the Ruins of Carthage” by John Vanderlyn

It was Julius Caesar’s uncle, who was the famous Roman military and political leader known as Marius the Great (Gaius Marius 157 BC – January 13, 86 BC) that first realized that the Gauls could be defeated. Marius had helped to re-invent the new Roman army. Marius had plans not only to invade Gaul but to give the Gaulish lands to his soldiers when they retired. Thus forming new Roman colonies, expanding the size of Rome and securing its borders.

The politics in the Republic of Rome at this time were all about the power of family clans. This plan would have made the Marius family the most powerful clan in Rome, with all these new colonies owing Marius’s family their allegiance. Thus the idea of Roman colonies in Gaul was prevented by Sulla (Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix 138 BC – 78 BC) the patriarch of a rival clan.

Civil war broke out and in Rome between Marius and Sulla. Sulla and Marius hated each other for years. They had served together as co-elected leaders of the Roman Republic and had bickered endlessly.

It was Sulla who won the Civil war and the Young Julius Caesar was forced to flee when Sulla marched his Roman legions on Rome. (Marching ones legions on Rome was a violation of one of Rome’s most sacred laws, and a law that Caesar would himself violate one day.)

Later when Sulla died Caesar was able to return to Rome and restart his political and military career.

The real Reason Rome invaded Gaul

Gaulish gold coin dating to the time of Caesar's invasion.
Gaulish gold coin dating to the time of Caesar’s invasion.

Oxford historian Terry Jones points out in his 2002 documentary series “The Surprising History of Rome” that there may have been another reason the Romans suddenly considered Gaul worth invading.

Jones (who was also a former member of Monty Python) points out that Gaul was full of gold. Gaulish coins from this period where made from gold while Roman coins were all minted from cheaper metals.

Caesar’s Book

“The Conquest of Gaul” was written towards the end of Caesar’s life. In fact the last chapter had to be finished by someone else after Caesar was murdered.

The story of the Conquest of Gaul takes place in the years after Caesar came back out of hiding and worked his way up the social and political ladder to where he himself was elected Consul of Rome. After a year in the top job Caesar was offered the Governorship of Gaul in 57 BC. Caesar was around the age of 43.

In 57 BC the Gauls were not yet a conquered people. So Caesars main job was to keep an eye on the natives and make sure that they didn’t amass into an army that could march on Rome.

Caesar had under his command three Roman legions. (A typical legion of this period had 5,120 legionaries). These were some of the best trained and best disciplined soldiers in the world at that time.

Map showing the unknown land of Gaul as compared to the location of Rome. 57 B.C.
Map showing the unknown land of Gaul as compared to the location of Rome. 57 B.C.

This is where the book “The Conquest of Gaul” begins. Caesar has just become the Roman Governor of Gaul. Caesar sees a large number of Gauls, from a tribe known as the Helvetii, immigrating to other lands. Caesar uses this amassing of the Helvetii as a provocation to attack.

Caesar won a quick victory. Caesar, as all generals of his day he was quick to send news of his victory back to Rome. Caesar’s whole life has wanted to be known as a great general.

Pompey the Great
Pompey the Great

In his youth his hero was Alexander the Great. His mentor was his uncle Marius the Great. Because of Caesar’s family being on the losing side of the Civil war military rank had long been denied him and he watched his friend and rival Pompey become known as Pompey the great (Gnaeus Pompeius 106 BC – 48 BC).

Caesar later befriended Pompey the Great and Pompey married his daughter. Pompey was considered to the the greatest general that Roman had ever had. But now suddenly Caesar had won a military victory against Rome’s most feared enemies, the Gauls.

Caesar had tasted military victory he wanted more. Caesar begins to pick fights with the many different tribes throughout central Europe, in what is now France, Belgium, Germany, and even Britain. Some of the friendlier tribes Caesar hired as auxiliaries. Also traveling with Caesar’s army was a group of slaver merchants whom Caesar sold prisoners of war, including women and children, to.

War was a great business, Caesar not only maked money from slaves but the towns that he conquered were looted for gold. Often whole towns were burned to the ground and the population exterminated by Caesar and his men. When the news spread to the other villages in Gaul towns paid Caesar tribute to avoid a battle.

Caesar and the Parisii

Paris, the Island of the city as it would have looked to Julius Caesar.
Paris, the Island of the city as it would have looked to Julius Caesar.

Caesar’s conquest even took him to Paris which in those days (52 B.C.). Paris was known then as “Lutetia Parisiorum”, (Lutetia of the Parisii ) The Parisii being the original tribal name of the people in the area. Now called the ‘Parisians’.

Luteitia in 52 B.C. consisted only of the area in Paris now known as  “Ile de la Cité”, (Island of the City) which is the island in the Seine where Notre Dame is now located.

Caesar made his camp on the left bank overlooking the Ile De la Cité, the area that would later become to be known as the Latin quarter.**

**(The Latin quarter got its name during the Middle Ages from the fact that it was the location of many different universities of higher learning where Latin was spoken).

Caesar’s conquest of Gaul was very simply written and in such pure and elegant Latin. The book still remains in print today more than two thousand years later. It is used both as a text book in Latin language training and as a book of military strategy.

There have been many different translations of Caesars conquest of Gaul into English over the years. The book is a must read for anyone wanting to start at the beginning of the history of France.

“The Conquest of Gaul” is followed by a second book by Caesar. “The Civil War” by Julius Caesar. Originally called  “Commentarii de Bello Civili” (Commentaries on The Civil War).

The Civil War is Caesar’s chronicle of the war between himself and Pompey the Great over the control of Rome.

Caesar was killed before finishing the last chapter of “The Civil War” and the work was completed by one of his friend Aulus Hirtius.
(Aulus Hirtius c. 90 – 43 BC, was a general under Caesar)

In Caesars day paper was expensive so notes were often written on wooden tables covered with bees wax. Shorthand notes were scribbled into the wax with a sharp metal stylus. It was with one of these stylus that Caesar was killed on the 15th of March 44 B.C.

Caesar’s invasion of Gaul was a brutal event. Costing the lives of thousands of people and causing thousands of others to be sold into slavery. But it was a brutal world. Before and after Caesar there where many warlords that acted even more brutally as Caesar. Caesar was just one of the very few to make a record of his conquests and war crimes.

Caesar’s conquests brought the Latin language into central Europe. The Romance languages; French Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian only really came into existence in their modern Latin based form because of the Roman conquests of over 2000 year ago.

French Quote Fingers

French quotation marks are called – guillemets.
Pronounced (gee-yee-may).
And they look like this – « ».

Quote fingers.
Anglo-American quote fingers are used in France.

I was surprised when my French friends said that the French use quote fingers (or air-quotes) in the same way that they are used by English speakers.

I think it’s time that the French should have their own quote finger sign, or should we say «guillemets des doigts».

 

French quote fingers.
Proposed French quote fingers.

 

Guillemets quote fingers will of course be easier for Star Trek fans to make.

I am thinking of creating a proposal for the Académie française, pertaining to the use of «guillemets des doigts» (quote fingers) or should they be called « guillemets de l’air »” (quotes of the air).

The Académie française (French Academy) is a council that deals with matters concerning the French language. They from time to time vote to make changes in French, recently removing an accent mark.

The Académie française was founded in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, whom you might recognize as the antagonist in the Alexander Dumas historical novel «Les Trois Mousquetaires» (The Three Musketeers).

There are forty members on the Académie française are called «les immortels» (the immortals) and hold their positions for life, or until they retire. They are the sort of supreme court of the French language.

quote-fingers-new-english-008

I’m not sure how the Académie française would react to French air quotes. I’ve tried it out on a few of my French friends, none of whom are Star Trek fans, so they had difficulty making the signs. «C’est la vie.»

«»«»«»«»«»

On PC’s the short cuts for guillemets are.

ALT + 174 = «

Alt +  174 = »

Mac short cuts for guillemets

 Option+Backslash = «

Option+Shift+Backslash = »

 

 

 

 

Adventures in Franglais – the State of Oregon

La syllabe perdue.
{The lost syllable.}

My home state of Oregon was in the news earlier this year when a group of militia from bordering state Nevada crossed the border. A number of mèmes began to appear on the internet comparing a pentagon, hexagon, octagon to Oregon. There is even an add online for a T-shirt with the Pentagon, hexagon Oregon joke. But somehow I don’t think many people in Oregon will have bought the T-shirt.

Statue of a man with an umbrella in Portland.
Statue of a man with an umbrella in Portland.

It’s not that we Oregonians can’t laugh at ourselves. It’s just that the joke doesn’t make sense in Oregon.

The problem with this joke is that it only really works on the East Coast where Oregon is pronounced with three syllables “or-re-gone”. On the west coast “Oregon” is pronounced with two syllables “ore-gun” or “ore-gin” (with a hard ‘g’). Hexagon just doesn’t rhyme with ore-gin.

The extra syllable used to confuse me. I’d watch the news or a talk show from New York and hear about a place called “Or-re-gone” which seemed strangely failure and yet I couldn’t quite place it. It sounded like some kind of Italian spice or something. But then I’d realize it was Oregon with an extra syllable.

The hidden message in the title spells out CAT.
The hidden message in the title spells out CAT.

One of my favorites movies is to “To Catch a Thief” in which Carry Grant, a retired cat-burglar John Robie In the movie John Robie pretends to be from Portland Oregon. I still remember the commercial advertising when “To Catch a Thief” was going to play on a Portland TV station as the movie of the week. The commercial was a montage of Grant, who was from Manchester England and had a very charming blend of English and American accent, had a very unique pronunciation of Portland, Oregon that was all his own.

No one is quite sure where the name Oregon comes from. It’s not a Native American name. It is believed to be Anglicized French.

With respect to the Native peoples that had been living in the Pacific North West, Oregon it seems was first made known to the rest of the world by explores that traveled by ship to the Pacific Ocean.

Many of the early explorers were Spanish and British.  Spanish explorer sighted what would later be named Oregon in 1543. In 1579, Sir Frances Drake sheltered in Oregon’s Nehalem Bay (85 miles {137 Km} west of where Portland would one day be located). In 1778 Captain James Cook also explored the Oregon Coast.

The French exploration of Oregon is harder to track. There is evidence of a French Canadians leaving behind French place names; Malheur River and Malheur Lake (Malheur is French for Misfortune).

In my teens I canoed down the Deschutes river. A river full of falls and rapids. I didn’t realize it then but Deschutes is French for “falls”.

Chances are the French Canadian explorers would have entered the state from the North or from the coast by ship. If you have ever been to the Oregon coast you will find it very very windy.

Windsurfing in the Columbia River Gorge by Alex Kerney
Windsurfing in the Columbia River Gorge by Alex Kerney

The Columbia River gorge up near Portland is considered to be one of the best wind surfing spots in the world because of the consistently high wind that blow in from the ocean.

 

 

Maverick - TV Series 1957–1962
Maverick – TV Series 1957–1962

“Wild as the wind in Oregon, blowin’ up a canyon, Easier to tame. Maverick is the name.”

Lyrics to the TV show Maverick
by Paul Francis Webster
(from New York)

 

The Maverick lyrics also confused me as a child as Oregon isn’t really known for its canyons. But I guess the Columbia River gorge could be a shallow canyon. But for a real canyon one needs to go east to Idaho’s Snake River canyon.

Most of the population of Oregon lives in the protective Willamette Valley formed by the Coastal and Cascade mountain ranges. We get a lot of rain but the mountains protect us from the winds that hammer the coast almost constantly.

Oregon doesn’t really have hurricanes. However it would be understandable that the early French explores who tried to sail up the Columbia River the wind seemed like a hurricane.

The French word for hurricane is «ouragan» pronounced ‘ore-a-gon ’.

And there it is the extra syllable!

It is believed by many that Oregon gets it’s name from the French word «ouragan».

Perhaps our friends on the East Coast aren’t mispronouncing the state’s name, they are just using an earlier pronunciation. For generations the extra syllable has been past orally from one generation to the next never changing.

Where as in Oregon, where people have to say the states name almost every day, to save time shortcuts have been taken and the middle syllable has been dropped like the final ”t” in Monet.

French Pirates

Probably the most famous French Pirate is Jean Lafitte ( c. 1780 – c. 1823). But there are a few others that you might recognize. Star Trek fans might recognize the name Captain Picard.

Pierre le Picard (1624–1679?) was a French pirate. He had worked with the famous Welsh pirate Sir Henry Morgan at one time before becoming the captain of his own pirate ship.

Pirates crews were quite often of mixed nationalities all speaking different languages. Pirate slag was developed to help crews understand a captain’s orders.

Before the creation of radios ship to ship communication was done with flags. This is why the command ship in a fleet was called the flag ship. Orders could be spelled out using a flag alphabet. However there were some flags that had special meaning, such as the red battle flag.

The red battle flag was the signal to attack. This was true for armies on land as well as at sea. Santa Anna’s army flew the red battle flag when they attacked the Alamo.

“By late afternoon Béxar was occupied by about 1,500 Mexican soldiers. When the Mexican troops raised a blood-red flag signifying no quarter, Travis responded with a blast from the Alamo’s largest cannon.”

From “The Battles and men of the Republic of Texas”
by Arthur Wyllie

It is believed the French pirates had a special name for the red battle flag calling it the «jolie rouge» or the “pretty red”. This was a very catchy name as and it soon was adopted even by the English speaking pirates who Anglicized jolie rouge to the name we know today; the “Jolly Roger”.

French Days of the Week

In this post we will have a quick look at the different French names of the days of the week. There is a strange link between the French and English names and perhaps knowing this link will help you learn the French day names.

Why Seven?

Why do we have seven days of the week? Why is it that the French and other countries that don’t speak English also have seven days in the week? Why is seven such a special number anyway?

In order to understand why seven is so important we have to look back a few thousand years ago, before the internet, TV, movies or even the radio. Back when people sat around campfires in the summer and looked up at the stars.

The sky at night is full of stars. Stars travel uniformly across the sky at night all going the same direction and at the same speed. The few exceptions the ancient Greeks named “wanderers” (in Greek planētēs.) We know them now as planets.

There are seven heavenly bodies that regularly appeared in the sky (and still do) and it is from these seven heavenly bodies that we get the days of the week. The Sun, the Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn.

The first two, the sun and the moon aren’t technically planets under the modern revised definition of the word. And yet they don’t travel with the rest of the stars across the sky so they technically are wanderers under the original Greek meaning of the word.

The names of the days of the week were first introduced into Rome from Egypt in the 1st and 2nd century.

Getting to the point of this post. The days of the week are named after the planets and Greco-Roman gods. The days of the week in French are the French name variations of the Greco-Roman gods. The English (Anglo-Saxon Germanic) versions of the days of the week are actually Germanic translations of the Greco-Roman gods.

It was sometime before 700 A.D. that the Teutonic ancestors of the English renamed the days of the week after the Norse gods.

The French order of the Days

novembre-01
The week starts with lundi (Monday).

Most French calendars start with Monday as the first day of the week. The reason for this may be that in the Bible Sunday is seen as the day of rest which is the seventh day.

French do not capitalize the days of the week unless they appear at the beginning of a sentence.

The French days of the week all contain the syllable ‘di’. Which just means day. Sunday (dimanche) begins with ‘di’ and the rest of the French day names end with it.

Lundi = Monday

Georges Méliès as the Man in the Moon. From his 1902 movie «Le voyage dans la lune » "A Trip to the Moon"
Georges Méliès as the Man in the Moon. From his 1902 movie «Le voyage dans la lune » “A Trip to the Moon”

Lundi comes from “lune”, which is the French word for moon.

Trivia: French Musketeer Cyrano de Bergerac (1619 – 1655) wrote one of the first Science Fiction stories ever recorded about taking a trip to the moon.

The story was a political satire, and was called «Contenant les Estats & Empires de la Lune» “Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon”, and was published two years after his death in 1657. In the story Cyrano sailed to the moon in a sort of balloon. (The first hot air balloon was invented in France 1783.)

Jules Verne (1828 – 1905) wrote «De la Terre à la Lune» “From the Earth to the Moon” in 1858. Cyrano was truly ahead of his times.

Monday is a shortening of moon-day.

Mardi = Tuesday

Mars
Mars, the Roman god of war.

Mardi is named after the Mars the Roman god of war. Most Roman soldiers were also farmers so Mars was the god of both war and agriculture. Before Rome had a full time professional army the military season, for Roman farmers, began in October. After the harvest, the farmers went into training for war.

The Roman campaigning season ended in March (which is also named after Mars in both French and English). In March all the farmers could go back to their families. The month of March («mars» in French) is when most of the festivals of Mars were held.

 

Tyr god of war
Tyr god of war

Tuesday: is named after Tyr. Tyr was the Norse god of war. It is from “Tyr” that we get the word “Teutonic”.

Tyr had only one hand as his other hand was bitten off by a giant wolf named Fenrir. The wolf Fenrir was said to be the son of Loki, the trickster god.

The story goes that Tyr put his hand in Fenrir’s mouth while Fenrir was bound with unbreakable chains. Tyr lost his hand but was able to save the gods from Fenrir.

Mercredi = Wednesday
(This is a bit of a mismatch)

Mercury
Mercury

Mercredi: Is the day of Mercury.

Mercury is the son of Jupiter, from Jupiter’s affair with the daughter of Atlas. Jupiter’s wife Juno, the queen of the gods, was known for being very cruel to her husband’s bastard children.

Mercury never had a very high standing with the Olympic gods. He is the god of thieves and has the job of taking fallen soldiers to the fields of heaven.

The Roman heaven was called “Elysium” or the “Elysian Fields“. “The fields of {Roman} heaven” translates into French as «les Champs du Elysees». Which is the name of one of the most famous streets in Paris.

 

Odin
Wise Odin had only one eye. He sacrificed the other eye in exchange for knowledge.

Wednesday: is Wodin or Odin’s day. Odin of course was the father of the Teutonic gods. His Roman equivalent should have been Jupiter. However when Julius Caesar first traveled to Gaul and Germany he mistook the widespread worship of Odin as being worship of Mercury.

The ancient Romans believed that all other cultures worshiped the same gods that they did only under different names. When visiting (or invading) a new country a Roman would ask about the nature of the local gods. All gods were given duties, such as god of lightning, or god of the sea, etc. The Roman would then try and figure out which of these barbarian gods corresponded to the Roman gods.

In Teutonic mythology it is Odin that receives soldiers that have fallen in battle to Valhalla. This is why Caesar mistook Odin, who was the king of the gods with Mercury, a lesser servant god.

 

Jeudi = Thursday
(another mismatch)

Jupiter
Jupiter, King of the sky holds lightning bolts in his right hand.

Jeudi: is the day of Jupiter, who was sometimes called Jove. (“By Jove!”)

Jupiter is the Roman father of the gods and King of Olympus. He was also the god of Thunder.

Jupiter’s father was Saturn, whom he did not get along with. Saturn was afraid of his children and so he ate them when they were born.

Jupiter led a rebellion. Because Jupiter and his siblings were immortal they survived being eaten and were set free by Jupiter. They were then able to rule the world.

Thor on his chariot pulled by two goats.
Thor on his chariot pulled by two goats. The word Swedish word for “Billy-goat” is »getabock». Which also is used as an euphemism for “playboy” or “stud” in Ingmar Bergman movies. Thor has a two-stud powered set of wheels!

Thursday: is Thor’s day. Thor the son of Odin and his Olympic equivalent should have been Hercules. (Except Hercules was half human. So Hercules was only a demigod, while Thor was the son of the King and Queen of the gods.)

Thor may have been confused with Jupiter as Thor is also the god of Thunder.

 

 

Vendredi = Friday

Venus
Venus, goddess of love and ancestor of Julius Caesar, who reinvented the Roman Calendar.

Vendredi: is the day of Venus.

Venus is the goddess of love and was said to be the mother of a Trojan man named Aeneas. Aeneas survived the fall of Troy and fled to Italy settling in the area which one day would be known as Rome. Aeneas was a founder of the Roman race. Julius Caesar claimed to be related to Aeneas and therefor Venus.

It should be pointed out that in French (and all the other Romance languages that assign gender to words) that the days of the week are masculine, even vendredi, despite being named after a goddess.

Freyja on her chariot pulled by two cats.
Freya on her chariot pulled by two cats. (She could be the goddess of the internet if she were around today.)

Friday: Friday may be named after one of two goddesses Frigg or Freya Whom may be the same goddess. No one is sure.

Frigg was the wife of Odin. Frigg was the patron of marriage and motherhood, love and fertility.

Freya had many of the same characteristic as Frigg but had a chariot pulled by two cats.

(In the movie “Thor” (2011) the thunder god asks a pet-shop owner if he has any dogs or cats that are big enough to ride.)

 

Samedi = Saturday

Saturn father of Jupiter
Saturn father of Jupiter

Samedi: Comes from the Latin words “dies Saturni”, it was Saturn’s day to the ancient Romans.

Saturn was the father of Jupiter. He was a Titian. Titians were the giants that came before the Olympic gods.

The scythe that Saturn holds may be inspired by the rings of Saturn which might be visible to the naked eye. (I’m not sure).

Saturday – is also named after Saturn.

 

 

Dimanche = Sunday

Sun emblem belonging to Louis XIV of France, the 'Sun King' (1638 - 1715)
Sun emblem belonging to Louis XIV of France, the ‘Sun King’ (1638 – 1715)

Dimanche: The name dimanche comes from its Latin name Dominica, Day of God or Day of our lord.

Sunday: day of the sun comes from the Latin “dies solis” which was the name of a Pagan Roman holiday. The day was renamed Dominica some time after Rome was converted to Christianity, by Constantine the Great (272 AD – 337 AD.)

French Numbers (the Abe Lincoln method)

At first glance the French have a somewhat unusual counting system which seems normal up until the number sixty-nine (soixante-neuf). Then things get a little “Abraham Lincoln”. But I’ll explain what I mean by that in a moment.

But first lets us take a look at the French counting system.

The French write their ones and their sevens slightly differently.
The French write their ‘ones’ and their ‘sevens’ slightly differently than the English speakers. The French number ones can sometimes look like upside down ‘V’s. 

One = un (masculine) or une (feminine). The number one is the only number to really have a gender. Also, the first day of the month is the “premier”.

Two = deux

Three = trois

Four = quatre

Five = cinq

Six = six (exactly the same)

Sept = seven

Eight = huit

Nine = neuf

Ten = dix

Eleven = onze

Twelve = douze (kind of sounds like “dozen”)

Thirteen = Treize (This is the beginning of the Teens (tens) in English. The dix numbers don’t start until 17 in French).

Fourteen = quatorze

Fifteen = quinze

Sixteen = seize

Seventeen = dix-sept (This is the start of the regular patter of the name of the number from the tens followed by the name of the number of the ones).

Eighteen = dix-huit

Nineteen = dix-neuf

Twenty = vingt

Twenty-one = Vingt-et-un.  (The “et” is only used in two digit numbers ending in “one” starting with 21 and ending with 61.)

Twenty-two = Vingt-deux (There is a dash between the numbers linking them. This is the pattern for the rest of the numbers up until 69)

Thirty =  trente

Fourty = quatrante

Fifty = cinquante

Sixty = soixante

Sixty nine = soixante-neuf. (Now a new pattern begins.)

Seventy = soixante-dix ( And so it starts. 70 is 60+10 Soixante-dix. Learning French numbers from this point on will help you with your mathematics skills.)

Seventy one = Soixante-et-onze  60 and 11.

Seventy two = Soixznte-douze (Just add the teen numbers to the end of Soixznte. This pattern continues until 80)

Eighty = quatre-vingt (four twenties) 4 x 20.

Eighty one = quatre-vingt-un. (four twenties one)

Ninety = quatre-vingt-dix (four twenties ten.) It really means 4 X 20 + 10

One hundred = cent

One hundred and one = cent-un

The Honest Abe Lincoln French Counting System

lincoln-006I don’t know if Abe Lincoln spoke French but for some reason he counted like a Frenchman. Looking at the first four words in Lincoln’s most famous speech, the Gettysburg Address the opening line is one of his most quoted and least understood lines in history.
(What’s a score anyway?)

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation…”

The word “score” has gone out of fashion in America. “Score” means “twenty”.

“Score” was once quite common in English.

merry-adventures-of-robin-hood “…the Sheriff of Nottingham did cow bold Robin Hood and seven score as fair archers as are in all merry England?”

“The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood”
Published in 1883
By Howard Pyle

 

 

What President Lincoln was really saying in his Gettysburg address was,

‘87 years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation…’

In French the number 87 is «quatre-vingts-sept», which translates as four-twenties-seven or as Lincoln put it, “four score and seven”.

Maybe French numbers after 70 aren’t that far-fetched. For after all they are using the same twenty based counting system that President Lincoln famously used.

My little French Calendar Scrapbook

Making a Living Language French Calendar Scrapbook

I don’t know if I use my French Living Language Calendar the way it was originally intended. My personal scrapbooking system I describe in this post is sort of something I have developed over the last two + years.

I bought my first Living Language French (calendar) in 2014. Back when French was still really just a foreign language to me. I remember opening the box on January 1st and thinking, this is way too advanced for me.

In some ways it was the calendar was too advanced. It used a lot of words that I’ve yet to encounter in my studies, however I have made up a number of games with my little French calendar over the years, and I’m on my third calendar now and still having fun.

Over the past two almost three years I have use my calendar as a way of exploring French culture. It is my escape from learning boring low level French terms like “Good-day, how is it going?” etc. etc. And into the higher levels of French culture. But more on that in a moment.

With my little French calendar I get to play detective and CSI linguistics expert. My little calendar is teaching French terms way beyond my learning level.

The Daily Language Habit

Steve Kaufmann from LingQ.com that the most important part of learning a new language is the daily learning habit. If you can do even a little every day you will be progressing. LingoSteve also encourages you to have fun while you are learning your new language to help avoid burnout.  (Look for LingoSteve Kaufmann’s videos on Youtube.)

Q: So how can I make my French calendar fun?

A: By starting a daily scrapbook.

The calendar features a new French word every day. This word comes with a pronunciation guide. I should point out that this is a readable pronunciation guide (yeah!) And not the fancy “International Phonetic Alphabet” (IPA) guides that I never learned about in school. The whole internet is being taken over by the IPA. It is used to show pronunciation using strange alien characters like; ɯ, ø, œ, ä, ɨ, ʌ, ʉ, ɤ, ɐ, ɞ. (The IPA guide needs to come with a guide.)

The French word or phrase also comes with a definition. Some words have more than one meaning. So often it is handy to look this word up on Google Translate.

Press the speaker icon to hear the word pronounced in French.
Press the speaker icon to hear the word pronounced in French.

Also Most of the translation pages have little speaker icons. If you click the speaker icon the page will read the word or sentence out loud for you. [This is one of the best tools ever created for language learning!]

Next the word or phrase will be used in a French sentence. Below this French sentence is an English translation of this sentence. (Most of the time these translations are fairly accurate but sometimes they are not. This is where the detective work begins.)

When I do my daily French calendar scrapbook. I often see myself as someone trying to break the code. (Believe me in the early days it was all seemed like code to me.) I quickly noticed after using Google translate a few times that the English version weren’t always a 100% word for word translations of the original French sentence.

Take for example the sentence:
«Petit à petit, l’oiseau fait son nid.» (Little by little the bird makes its nest.) I have seen this translated on line as (Every little bit counts.) with no further explanation of the words like oiseau= or nid=nest.

“Every little bit counts” may be the underlying meaning of the proverb but it’s ironic that the translator ignored all the little bits that counted.

In my opinion, it is more important to understand what the words actually mean. Word for word. Even if the proverb is strange. Finding the meaning is an insight into how the French think.

Discover Grammar patterns

I must point out that I hate the whole idea of learning grammar “rules. However I enjoy discovering the natural way in which the French say things. Grammar is really a rhythm and and sort of logic. It is something that you learn to know by ear.

When you put words together in the wrong order in an English sentence the sentence just sounds wrong. It’s not about learning rules. Its about learning to hear pattern. The rules where made up to explain the pattern. Learning to hear the pattern first makes it easier to understand the rules.

The Experts are wrong

What are the French really saying?

I don’t know how many times that I have read that «bonjour» means “good day” and “good morning”. No it doesn’t

«Bonjour» means “good day”. The French may say bonjour in the morning, however «bon» means “good” and «jour» means “day”.

«Matin» means “morning.”

It’s good to know exactly what words mean.

«Ça va» means “It goes”
«Ça» = it
«va» = goes.
«Ça va» doesn’t mean “OK” or “how are you?”
It means “How is it going?” With the words “How” and “is” left off.

Understanding these little details are important.

My Little French Calendar Scrapbook

Here is an example from the digital scrapbook that I keep of my French calendar.

The word (phrase) of the day is «À couper le soufflé» which is given the definition of “breathtaking”.

—————————————————

        À couper le souffle (ah koo-pay luh soo-fluh) = breathtaking

Cette reproduction est à couper le souffle.

This reproduction is breathtaking.

(Bing translate)

Cette reproduction est à couper le souffle. This reproductrion is breathtaking.
Cette
reproductrion
est
à
couper
le souffle.
This
reproductrion
is
to
cut
the breath.

————————————————–

In the table I have inserted on the page above, I have typed in the original French sentence on the left and in this case, I have used the Bing Translator translation on the right.

You can see that Bing translates «à couper le soufflé» as breathtaking. However when I added a enter between each word the Bing translator now translate «à couper le soufflé» as separate element; “to cut the breath.”

I do the same process with Google Translate just to double check. You can see in the sample below that the French word «reproduction» has been translated as “production” by Google.

————————————————–

(Google Translate)

Cette reproduction est à couper le soufflé. This production is breathtaking.
Cette
reproduction
est
à
couper
le souffle.
This
production
is
to
cut
the breath.

————————————————–

But something doesn’t seem quite right here. “Breathtaking” translates as “Cut the breath”.

I try putting «couper» in Google translate by itself. This will give me any alternative translations of this word.

Google translate gives me 33 new meanings for the word couper. But which one is the right one?

cut, turn off, cut off, disconnect, shut off, break, stop, chop, cut down, slash, sever, break up, intersect, clip, crop, cut back, snip, lop, switch, cut away, hew, undercut, ax, axe, bite, pare, cease, shear off, whack, haggle, adze, intermit, fritter,

To be left breathless is describing a feeling. It’s not really like being cut.

When you see something that leaves you breathless. It can feel like your breath has been “turned off”, or “breath cease” or maybe the breath knocked or “breath whacked” out of you.

The French word «couper» reminds me of the French word «coups».

The 400 Blows. Directed François Truffaut
The 400 Blows. Directed François Truffaut

There is a famous French movie called “The 400 Blows” The French title is «Les Quatre Cents Coups»(1959). The title sounds like the movie is about corporal punishment as the poster depicts a young boy.

But there is nothing in the movie about corporal punishment or any type of blows. The name “Les Quatre Cents Coups” is really difficult to translate into English as «coups» means both “blows” and “cuts”. The  French title refers to an old French idiom “faire les quatre cents coups”, (make the 400 coups) which means “to raise hell”.

Somethings don’t translate. The English distributes might have been better off with a title like “Wild Oats” which had been proposed at the time.

I’ve tried to find more details about the meaning of the 400 blows idiom. One French friend suggested that it might come from French theater. When a play is about to begin the usher holds a long staff and stamps it on the ground three times. The noise the staff makes are called coups. The coups signal that the show is about to begin. The 400 coups may mean that a really big show is about it begin.  (This case it still open.)

 

How to to make a French Calendar Scrapbook

My daily dose of French.
My daily dose of French.

At the top of the page I write the date in French and then English

Vingt-quatre octobre deux-mille-seize
 24 October 2016
Monday – lundi

  1. Open your French Calendar to today’s date.
  2. Open a new MS Word documents and named it French Calendar 2016 or 2017 or whatever year it is when you start this scrapbook.
  3. At the top of the page type today’s date in French (See the example above. Right justify the date to keep it out of the way.)
    Make sure to spell the numbers
    Vingt-quatre octobre deux-mille-seize. The first of the month is written as «premier» and not «un».(this is a great way to learn your numbers 1 to 31.)
  4. On the next line I write the date in English using number 24 October 2016. (the French use the dd/mm/yyyy format.)
  5. On the next line write the day in both languages. Monday – lundi (French day and month names are NOT capitalized unless they at the beginning of a sentence. To remind me of this I write them second.)
    img_9192
  6. Next type the word of the day and its pronunciation and its meaning.
    Many French words contain letters that have accents. I used to skip these but then I found a pages with all the keystroke shortcuts for writing French accents. I made a little chart of these and paste it at the end of my Word document, so it always just below where I need it.
  7. Next type the French Sentence. (Try and pronounce it while you type. Google translate will pronounce French sentences for you.)
  8. Then type the English translation. (Remember not to trust these translations. They can be misleading.)
  9. This is where I start my investigation I open two online translation pages.
    https://translate.google.com.au/ (my favorite)
    http://www.bing.com/translator
  10. Type the French sentence into each translator page. (Make sure the language is selected to translate French to English.)
  11. Press the speaker icon and repeat the sentence out loud a few times. If the sentence is too long to remember, then remove a few words. You can add them back later.
  12. Are there any words in the sentence that you don’t understand? If you put your cursor between each word and click [Enter]. This will put the words on separate lines and the words will be translated separately.
  13. When I have translated a sentence I copy it back to my Word Scrapbook document.
  14. If I’ve translated each word separately I copy and paste those words onto my table as well.
  15. If you type a single word into Google Translate then all the different definitions of the word will appear in the lower right hand side of the page. Sometimes words have more than one meaning and it’s interesting to understand these different meanings. I copy and paste these words onto my Scrapbook doc as well.
  16. Save your work.

                    How to use French Accent Alt codes for PCs.
Hold down the Alt key and then type the numbers. Then let go of the Alt key and the accented letter will appear.

French Accent ALT Codes For PCs

 

à = ALT + 133

â = ALT + 131

ä  = ALT + 132

æ = ALT + 145

ç  = ALT + 135

é  = ALT + 130

è  = ALT + 138

ê  = ALT + 136

ë = ALT + 137

 

À  = ALT +  0192

  = ALT +  0194

Ä  = ALT +  142

Æ  = ALT +  146

Ç  = ALT +  128

É  = ALT +  144

È  = ALT +  0200

Ê  = ALT +  0202

Ë  = ALT +  0203

 

î = ALT + 140

ï = ALT + 139

ô = ALT + 147

œ = ALT + 0156

ù = ALT + 151

û = ALT + 150

ü = ALT + 129

« = 174

€ = ALT + 0128

 

Î = ALT + 0206

Ï  = ALT + 0207

Ô  = ALT + 0212

Π= ALT + 0140

Ù  = ALT + 0217

Û  = ALT + 0219

Ü  = ALT + 154

»  = ALT + 175

 

 

Option codes for Mac

•Euro symbol (€) Press [Option] + [Shift] + [2]

•Acute Accent ( é ): Press the [E] key while holding the [Option] key, take your finger off the option key then press [E] again.

•Grave Accent ( à, è, ù ): Press [ ` ] while holding down the [Option] key, then press either [A], [E] or [U]. to put a Grave accent above the appropriate letter.

•Cedilla ( ç ): Simply press [C] while holding down the [option] key.

•Circumflex ( â, ê, î, ô, ü ): Press [I] while holding down [Option], then press either [A], [E], [I], [O] or [U].

•Tréma ( ë, ï, ü ): Press [U] while holding down [Option], then press either [E], [I] or [U].

•OE Ligature ( œ ): Simply press [Q] while holding down the [Option] key.

 

A Picture is worth a thousand words.

Next I copy the original French sentence into Google Search and do first a normal search and then an image search.

attention-a-la-marcheI like to illustrate my calendar scrapbook. This is often the most interesting part of the process as I often find that the sentence was taken from a French saying or part of a famous French song, or a quote or it might even be a catch phrase from a French game show. (I didn’t know that the French had game shows).

I record all this information. I usually try and write a quick biography of the author, painter or game show in question.

A lot of this information can be found on Wikipedia.

If the author doesn’t appear in the English version of Wikipedia then look on the left hand side of the Wikipedia home page. There is a “Languages” heading. Find and click on “Français”.

The Français page will be in French, but you can copy and paste the page into Google Translate.

Once a month my French calendar has short biographies of French painters or authors or other famous French people or places.

symbolism

In this case I type out these biographies onto my Word scrapbook and then look for pictures on Google.

This is a whole cultural and history lesson that I look forward to every day. I’ve been introduced to several different art movements as well as the works of a number of different authors that I had never heard of.

chateau-de-chambordI remember the first time I did an image search was when the French calendar was when there was an article about a French Château (castle) that I’d never heard of before.

So I looked up Le Château de Chambordthat. And I included some pictures of the Château and a map of where it is located.

Living Language: French 2017

My Personal Journal of Language Learning – Part 1

A look at different language learning systems.

I’m looking at a number of different ways to Lean French and Improve what I already know.

The systems that are am currently using for language learning are;

youtubeYouTube: there were a number of Youtube videos that I looked at before I started serious language learning. https://www.youtube.com/user/lingosteve

Steve Kaufman creator of the LingQ.com website.
Steve Kaufmann creator of the LingQ.com website.

I found Steve Kaufmann’s approach to language learning very refreshing. He knows around 15 languages and he his always learning more. From time to time he has 90 day challenges. Where he focuses on one language for 90 days to see if he can crack it. He encourages other people to join him on his 90 challengers. My favorite part about Mr. Steve Kaufmann is how it does not like traditional academic language teaching techniques. He (like myself) found that he learned little in his high school language classes. Steven Kaufmann is very much for the idea that we should all design our own language learning program to fit our needs. He interviews other polyglots from time to time and they discuss their personal styles. Most importantly Steve Kaufmann taught me that it might be possible for me to learn French even though I was over 50. He also has a language learning page called https://www.lingq.com. There is a free version a subscription version to www.lingq.com. I am a member. It’s a very useful sight once you get to use it.

My daily dose of French.
My daily dose of French.

Living Language French (Calendar): I bought my first Living Language French (calendar) in 2014. I wasn’t sure what to do with it. Each day it has a new French word and uses that word in a sentence. In the early days I found this difficult as the sentence often contained words that I did not understand. So I came up with a system. (I have written a lot more about my Living Language French calendar but this post is getting a bit long so I will post it separately.)

duolingo-owlDuolingo.com: There is no cost for using Duolingo. I started Duolingo 10 January 2016. I think it’s a very effective system. I have written a review of it a few days ago. I’m very glad Duolingo exists. I now have a vocabulary in French of roughly 2600+ words. Duolingo tells me I have about 56% fluency level. (Which would go up if I liked doing flashcards)

I have reached my limit on Duolingo French. And because Duolingo is so addictive as a daily dose of language I have started Italian* so I can maintain my score.

Habits are important

Duolingo is very good for helping one to develop the habit of daily language learning. Habits are important. If you get into a daily habit of language learning you will progress.

[*On a side note I was thinking that if I started to learn Italian as a French speaker, instead of as an English speaker, that I could get a dose of both languages every day. But I haven’t had time to look into this.]

Private Tutor: This is a good idea. I started taking lessons a few months ago. Duolingo and LingQ are very good ways of learning vocabulary but if you want to speak the language you will need lessons hopefully from a native speaker. LingQ does offer an exchange where you can find a tutor on line, and then arrange an time to practice with them.

italki_logo_2016_200pxiTalki: iTalki is a website where you can find a tutor. https://www.italki.com/. The tutor’s charge. Some a little and some a lot. It is a very simple system to use. I took several lessons on iTalki but as I wasn’t very good at using Skype, (which is very simple to use) I had a number of problems in the early days.

How iTalki works:

1. Create an account with iTalki.

2. Add money into iTalki system. You will be given a number of iTalki Credits (ITC). The reason of the ITC is you might be dealing with a person from another culture who has a different currency. The ITC takes into account the fluctuation of the different currencies. Make sure you make a note of the conversion rate with your local currency so that you know how much you will be paying for lessons.

2. Search for a Teacher on the iTalki website.Find a teacher who is available at a time that you are available. Different teachers charge different amounts for their time.

3. You can contact the teacher through iTalki. The teacher then has to accept you (sometimes they are busy with other clients). If and when the teacher accepts you they will email you through iTalki.

4. For those unfamiliar with Skype you will need to set it up on your computer. It is a simple system. You will need to send your Skype number to your teacher.
[You will most likely need headphones. My Dell computer doesn’t give me an option to plug in a microphone. (Thanks Dell). Dell has hidden a mic in my keyboard somewhere and hasn’t bothered to tell me where. It works, so don’t stress out if you have a computer created by the Dell.]
Video Camera. Skype uses a video camera so you can see your teacher and they can see you. Most computers these days have video cameras. [until the people at Dell decide not to put them on any more.]

5. Before the scheduled time of your call your teacher will send you their Skype number through Skype’s email, (yes Skype has it’s on texting email system) for you to accept. You need to accept their number in order to receive a call from them.

6. At your scheduled time your teacher will call you. Accept your Skype call.
You will be able to see teacher and they will be able to see you, unless you are shy. They can show you flash cards on the screen and they can text you the spelling of words as you talk.

7. When you are done you can save all the Texts and uses this as your learning notes.

8. iTalki will then ask you to settle your account by transfering some ITCs to your teachers account.

Tutor tips. You want to get your money’s worth from your tutor whether they be on Skype from LingQ or iTalki or in person, so study what they ask you to study so that you are ready on the day. Different tutors are going to have different styles. Me personally I didn’t want to know about grammar rules I wanted to have conversations. Practicing the alphabet with a tutor is useful as you are practicing the sounds that you need to make with your mouth. Later after you can hold a short conversation it is important to learn some grammar rules. But the rules should come after some understanding. If you learn a bunch of rules before you get a feell for the language you will just be confused.

pimsleur-french-levels-1-5-mp3-9781442381827Pimsleur French Method: Dr. Paul Pimsleur was a language teacher that came up with the theory that the best way to learn a language was to hear a new word or short sentence, as spoken by a native French speaker, and then learner is asked to repeat the word, or sentence shortly after it has been spoken. This process is repeated again and again.

The learn works their way through the course learning a few new words and sentences every day.

I was still a nervous new language learning when I bought the Pimsleur French lesson #1 on CD series. I played one lesson a day, but as I progressed I had deep insecurities about how well I was doing. The Pimsleur system is a good system but it’s not interactive like Duolingo where you are scoring points as you progress.

I gone back to using Pimsleur now that I am a little more secure in my knowledge of the French language.

For some people the Pimsleur method will work well. Others may not like it so much. If you can create a daily habit of listening to them they will work well. They are idea for someone who drives to work and has a CD player in their car. You can also get them at Audible.com. (I love Audible by the way. When I use to take public transport to work I used to read books all the time. But now that I have a car I don’t have as much reading time and I’ve started listening to audio-books.)

So a program like Duolingo or the Living Language calendar are good for starters to get you into the daily learning habit. Once you are in the habit and have built you vocabulary and confidence up I found it good to use CD systems like Pimsleur. This is also a good time to start thinking of getting a teacher either in real life or on LingQ.com or iTalki.com.

People are going to learn at different speeds so it’s hard to say how fast you should be progressing. Just make sure that at all times you are having fun. Make your learning system your own.

Pimsleur French

What is next.

I’m always looking for new systems to play with. I have the French for Dummies book but I didn’t find it all that useful so I only read a few pages. I have bought a few other courses and will look at those in a future post.

[Full disclosure: I’ve included links to the different
language learning systems mentioned on this post.
Many are free but a few of them pay commission
which will go towards paying for upkeep of this blog.]