Learning French

CoolArcadesLyonFranceFirstly as we grow up we construct phonetic and grammatical filters and auto correctors. These get in the way, and the older we get the harder it is. French is a very vowel based sounding language. It does not have the clear consonant endings that English has. The French pronounce the whole word except often the end. The English skip over the middle – just say er – and pronounce the end. The English pronounce strongly or softly, while the French pronounce in the middle of the mouth – towards the back – it’s a more moderate and nasal sound.

A lot of the French vowel sounds do not have direct English equivalents but they do have similar English equivalents. oi – wa. au – o. oui – we , u – oo. j is soft. g can be hard or soft. th is pronounced with the t & the h separately , the h is often silent. In England there is a town called Witham pronounced wit ham – this is more the French pronunciation.

Plurality is indicated by the prefixing word – preposition – le \ la (the) becomes les (lay) , de (of , from) becomes des (day) (of plural , some). Plural nouns end in s or x but the s or x are not pronounced. If x is in a word – eg Bruxelles – it’s pronounced as a s.

Consonants preceding vowels may be transferred to the vowel – c’est un – becomes – c’es tun in sound , if the un wasn’t there it would be just c’e in sound. ~tion is pronounced ~seeon.

Instead of ‘it is’ the French usually say ‘this is’ – c’est. are and have become interchanged – eg. in English – ‘what age are you ?’ – in French ‘I have 51 years’ – J’ai 51 ans.

Volleyball2HoteldeVilleParisFranceThe French language can often be formal – please is s’il vous plait – if it pleases you. They also often use contractions both on the English and on the French – ‘I am an engineer’ becomes ‘I am engineer’ – Je suis ingenieur , toute de suite becomes toute suite. They can also say things that sound odd to the English ear – ‘merci a vous’ – ‘thanks to you’ instead of thank you. Often the basic noun verb noun sentence is said noun noun verb – ‘I send you’ becomes ‘I you send’ – ‘Je vous envoie’. The French do not have a word for ‘do’ , they use the word for ‘make’ – ‘faire’ – and they don’t use it as a question indicator. A question is stated Australian style but without the do. They also don’t have a word for ‘will’ in the sense of ‘I will send you to Paris’ they say ‘Je vais vous envoyer à Paris’ – literally – ‘I go you sending to Paris’.

Past is the word ‘have’ – ‘J’ai…’. Where the French end the word in ‘~ment’ there is almost always an English equivalent word ending in ‘~ly’ with almost always the same meaning. Where the English end a word in ‘~ing’ the French just use the verb base – er or re ending – ie. the ‘to ~verb’. Possessives are said using the word ‘de’ – ‘boy’s dog’ is ‘dog of boy’ – ‘chien de garcon’. Adjectives often follow the nouns – ‘blue car’ is ‘car blue’ – ‘voiture bleue’. The French often use ‘on’ – one – instead of ‘nous’ – we.

Now , learning French. I suggest 3 hours basic French course per week over at least 3 weeks. Then just use it when you are in Paris – eg. in restaurants , buying tickets etc. – just pleasantries – la politesse. Be warned Paris has a strong tourist sector that is not the best place to learn and practice French. It’s like any such tourist sector – a lot of non French working in it , along the central drag there is a quite a bit of bad service and a fair bit of bad food etc.. IE. you have to know where to go to find the good food and good service – getting off the beaten track is , as always , the good way to go.

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