Lost in translation

Alright, I’ve just watched the Orientation video for the famed French in Action class, and am left with two thoughts:

      1. Being fatigué (or fatiguée, in my case) is a lot worse than being tired. (see 15:23)
      2. Also, and related: it may not be possible for a person born and raised in central Illinois to be fatiguée, at least not in public.

Which brings me to my first question: how does one say “Great!” in French?

Or: Good!

As in:

Pascaline: Hi, Catherine, how are you?

Catherine: Great!

Or, alternatively:

Pascaline: Hi, Catherine, how are you?

Catherine: Good!

(Is it rude to say Great! (or Good!) in France? With the exclamation mark?)

That’s my second question.

Mysteries of the apps

Meanwhile, on Doug S’s recommendation, I’ve also devoted myself to Duolingo & Tinycards, which seem terrific and well worth my time.

But I’ve hit a snag:

  • I’m stuck on the difference between bonne soirée and bonsoir
  • I can’t figure out the meaning of Duolingo’s color coding, or its skill charts, or the rules that govern when I get to move on to learning words for food; nor do I know what an ‘xp’ goal is or what “60/20” means in relation to my xp goal, or whether it’s good or bad that I have “6 hours left.” Six hours left till what, exactly?

The plan seems to be for me to carry on learning (or “strengthening“?) Lessons 1, 2, 3, and 4 until a time to be determined, and not by me.

Maybe you have to know when to say bonne soirée before they let you learn the French word for bread.

Duolingo___Learn_French_for_free

Duolingo___Learn_French_for_free 2

Is there a Missing Manual for Duolingo?

Headlines I have known and loved

Almost a blooper:

Here are 330 Ivy League courses you can take online right now for free

Right now?

All 330 of them?

This reminds me of my all-time favorite National Enquirer headline:

Do you know the 1,110 reasons marriage makes women sick?

I still remember wandering the grocery store aisles chuckling over that one.

No!

I do not know the 1,110 reasons marriage makes women sick!

Nor will I ever know the 1,110 reasons marriage makes women sick, because: how long would it take me to memorize 1,110 individual reasons marriage makes women sick?

Not as long as it would take me to complete 330 free Ivy League courses online, but still.

As I recall, the Enquirer actually listed all 1,110 reasons inside the paper, but since I didn’t buy a copy to preserve it for posterity, I can’t say for sure.

(P.S. I’ve spoofed the headline, but I actually appreciate the post and the effort that went into it…. in fact, I’m reading the entire list of 330 free Ivy League now. Sad to say, I don’t see a course offering on How to Hear in French.)

Doug S on Duolingo and YouTube

This is helpful:

FWIW, I’ve been working on my German again for some months now and have been pretty happy with Duolingo. It has the virtue of being free and has been reported to me by people who have used both as being about as good as Rosetta Stone.

Which is all very well for the usual sort of classroom language learning (with all its many limitations). For actual conversational language, I’ve found YouTube videos on subjects that I’m already interested in and uploaded by native speakers of the language I’m working on to be quite valuable. The cadences, slang, and vocabulary are similar to those I’ve run into on the streets in a way that more formal products (like newscasts and translated scholarly works) are not.

I’ve always wondered about Duolingo & haven’t quite had the wherewithal to form an opinion.

And I’d never thought of using YouTube videos!

Brilliant!

Painters use paint–what do writers use?

Until recently–more recently than I care to admit–I would have said: “Words.”

Writers use words.

Writers do use words, but that’s not the right answer.

A well-known writer got collared by a university student who asked, ”Do you think I could be a writer?”

”Well,” the writer said, ”I don’t know. . . . Do you like sentences?”

The writer could see the student’s amazement. Sentences? Do I like sentences? I am 20 years old and do I like sentences? If he had liked sentences, of course, he could begin, like a joyful painter I knew. I asked him how he came to be a painter. He said, ”I liked the smell of the paint.”

“Write Till You Drop” by Annie Dillard | New York Times 5/28/1989

 

How to hear

I’m trying to remember the line C. came up with, when he was little, re: Jimmy, his autistic brother.

It was something like “He can’t listen.”

That’s me with Spanish and French.

I can’t listen.

I’m hoping Gabriel Wyner can give me a shortcut. (Wish I could remember which box his book is stored in . . . . )

Many language textbooks begin with a list of hard-to-hear words—the rocks and locks you can expect to encounter along the way to fluency. With a handful of recordings of those words (freely accessible through Web sites such as Rhinospike.com and Forvo.com) and with testing software such as Anki (ankisrs.net), you can build powerful ear-training tools for yourself. These are tools that, after just a few hours of use, will make foreign words easier to hear and easier to remember, and they may give you the edge you need to finally learn the languages you’ve always wanted to learn.

How to Teach Old Ears New Tricks

 

Dual-language news at the Times

We’re spending 6 weeks in France this summer, so, in theory, I’m going to improve my French before then.

Either that, or spend a lot of time tracking down websites, books, software, and apps that would undoubtedly help me improve my French if I stopped looking for resources and started actually using the resources I’ve got.

Maybe tomorrow!

Anyway, in the interests of saving other people time tracking things down, I’m posting the URLs for Times articles in French and Spanish:

Nos reportages et tribunes en français 

AL DÍA

As far as I can tell, all articles have been translated from the original English to Spanish or French (possibly vice versa for some). So you can put the two side-by-side in a table, et voilà: dual-language news.

The Times also has a guía de The New York Times that doesn’t seem to be translated. However, the headlines are so familiar you can probably guess your way through and not be wrong. (“Las polémicas de Trump” anyone?)

What I really need, of course, is dual listening, and I think I’ve got the resources for that. Will post later.