Jan 28, 2010

some corrections and comments

massive pancakesmassive pancakes, by me

Soo... it turns out when I type up some comments on French phrases based just on what I hear, I can make some mistakes, but hey I disclaimered it so we shouldn't be too surprised! I double-checked one phrase with one of my French teachers yesterday, and Jess Cuthbert left some useful corrections on the last post. With these helpful tips, I'm going to re-write the list of phrases last week, with some corrections. I might even include some extra phrases.

[brief interjection: If you're reading this on Facebook, you can read the original - non-imported - version on my blog]

I briefly debated integrating some useful things I learned in class over the past two weeks, but I think it could get confusing. So for now I'm just going to leave this post for "The first French phrases I learned to pick out of conversation"


good morning, by me

Parce que --> Because
When I plug "because" into Google Translate, it tells me that there are four options.
  • car
  • parce que
  • autant plus
  • à fin que
Jess pointed out in her comment that she finds "car" easier to use in a sentence, which contradicts my statement that "car" is for writing and "parce que" is for speaking. I'm tempted to say that I never hear people say "car", but it's also possible that it's more of a subtle sound than "parce que" is, so maybe people do say it and I just don't notice it for what it is. I do find that people do use "parce que" a lot. Kyle mentioned something yesterday that made me laugh because I'd basically posted the same thing on this blog: knowing a few key phrases really helps impose some structure on the conversations we're hearing, so it makes it a bit easier to track the flow of the conversation. " Parce que" is definitely one of those phrases. Ditto for "mais" and "Je pense" and "donc". Now we just need to figure out how to fill in the substance of the conversations!

Mais --> But
The meaning is pretty simple here. I think the translation is quite literal. You make a statement, you want to insert a "but", so you say "mais". So when I'm listening to a French conversation, I hear "mais" after a pause because it's either at the beginning of a sentence, or after a comma in the middle of a sentence.

Je pense --> I think
To me, this seems to be the most common way of expressing one's opinion. Yesterday, the purpose of my "communication oral" french class was practicing the different ways of expressing our opinions. It turns out there are tons of different ways (which, perhaps, I'll detail in another post), but I really seem to hear "Je pense" in pretty much every conversation I've ever listened to.

Bonne journée --> Have a good rest of the day
Jess pointed out that journée is a feminine noun, so this phrase is actually "bonne journée". Way to complicate things, french. Thanks a lot.

Donc --> Therefore, so, then
This was probably the first new word I recognized, which was way back at the potluck Christmas party we went to. I remember thinking "what the hell does 'donk' mean? I've never heard that before". Of course Kyle had never heard of it either. And... I forgot to look it up, so forgot all about it until I started hearing regular French conversation in January. Then, partially out of context, and partially because I confirmed it in Google Translate, I figured out that it's equivalent to "so" or "therefore" or "then". It really jumps out at me, and it's used pretty frequently. Good one to know.

open to anything
open to anything, by me

J'espere --> I hope
Usually occurs at the beginning of a sentence. I don't actually hear this one that often, but I heard it in one particular conversation quite a bit, and it jumped out at me then, so I've remembered it since then... even though it's not super common.

Quelque --> Some
Very useful. It also gets combined, much like "some" does in English. So there's quelquefois (sometimes) and quelque chose (something).

Meme --> Same
Super useful word to know!!! Often combined with "chose" to become "meme chose" (pronouned "mem shows") which means "same thing"

Les deux --> Both
I hear it a lot in class, such as when someone asks which word or phrase is more common, and the teacher shrugs, nods, and says "Les deux", to indicate they're equally common.

C'est ça --> That's right; exactly
I think that the literal translation is "That's so", or something along those lines... But based on context, it seems to mean "That's right", to indicate affirmation of something's truth. Jess suggests it might be similar to saying "exactly!" in English, when you're trying to agree with a statement that someone is making. I would argue there isn't an English phrase that would be the exact equivalent. Next time I hear a sentence when it's being used, I'll try to note it down and present it in a future post.

Peut-etre --> Maybe; perhaps
Pretty straight forward...

Jamais --> Never
No additional comments.

massive pancakes
untitled, by me

-------NEW STUFF-------
Puis --> Then
Jess, I invite you to comment on this one. I started noticing earlier this week that people tend to start sentences with something that sounds like "pwee". I inferred, based on my oh-so-substantial knowledge of French pronunciation, that the word I was probably hearing was "puis". When I Google Translate that word, it gives me "Then". This makes sense, contextually, I think. Any comments from someone who knows more French than me? Side-bar, this is one of the words I have a lot of trouble pronouncing. It involves making funny non-English shapes with the mouth & lips. Curse my English-trained speech-making bits.

Besoin --> Need
Sidebar: One useful thing I learned when I tried to learn Spanish (hah!) was that when you're expressing physical sensations, the grammar is different than in English. You don't say "I am hungry", you say "I have hunger", essentially. So in Spanish, that'd be "Tengo hambre" and in French it's "J'ai faim" ("faim" being one of those tricky words where you don't pronounce the last letter and you have to plug your nose: "faih"... sort of). SOOooo back to the word "besoin". You're trying to say you need something? "J'ai besoin" (J'ai being "I have", of course.) Kyle says this is one of the words that jumps out at him.

fin de la semaine --> weekend
This phrase, when spoken in normal Quebecois French, sounds more like "fin de semaine" (or in English phonemes: "faih duh suhmaih" - or something like that). Bon fin de la semaine is how you'd wish someone a good weekend.

ALSO... someone said something to me at the bus stop today. I kinda just went "uh?" and raised my eyebrows. She repeated herself and smiled, and I THINK she was complimenting my hat so I said "merci" but she left me alone after that. Here's what it sounded like she said, please help me decode it. I'm typing it using English phonemes so I don't pollute your interpretation: Bell voh touque. I'm pret-ty sure I heard "tuque".


alpaca, by Kyle

If you were in Quebec, what phrases do you think you'd want to know how to say? In class, we learned stuff like "what's your name" (and "my name is") and "where do you come from?" (and "I come from Canada"), etc etc. But there's all sorts of little stuff we have to pick up as we go along. Like, I didn't know how to say "hear" or "see" for the longest time, and kept substituting "listen" (i.e. ecouter) and "watch" (i.e. regarder), which makes me feel dumb. I just learned those two verbs today and already forget how to conjugate them. Go me.

So... any tips for me?

1 comment:

Cuthbert said...

I like your additions! You're right on track for "puis"... it's kind of like "then" and kind of like "and".

No idea what the lady at the bus stop said to you. :) If she was admiring your toque, she may have said "Elle est belle, votre tuque". (which in Quebecy slurred french might sound like "eh belle vo toque")

I also recommend knowing "quelque chose" (something), and "quelqu'un" (someone). Those seem handy. :)

Also, here's a crazy French thing for your list. The weather is masculine. You never say "It's snowing", but rather "He's snowing". Weird but true. "Il pleut", "Il neige", "Comment fait-il dehors?" (how is he doing outside- means 'how's the weather?'). Time is also masculine "Quelle heure est-il?" (what time is he?)

Good luck!