Learning French – how difficult is it ?
My blog for today is an article I was recently asked to write for France Magazine some years ago..
My wonderful husband speaks French. His written French is a different story altogether, and one which we will not go into for fear of wrecking my lap top.
But he does speak French and almost everybody understands him and he, in turn, generally understands everybody. However, he uses no grammar, no gender, and he has an accent that Churchill would be truly proud of.
The trick to learning another language after the age of, say, twelve, is to quite simply not worry about it. Frankly, unless you are a fantastic mimic, you will never ever get the accent absolutely right. I speak really good French, my degree is in French (albeit a hundred years ago), and I have lived here in France for twenty-three years – but the accent is there. Of course it is – I am British, not French. And so are you.
Likewise, unless you are excruciatingly dedicated, you are never going to learn the grammar to its deep dark depths – so don’t.
After all these years here my husband will cheerfully – and remarkably rapidly – come out with things like (in French of course, to the gardener yesterday): “The tractor he repair now, you cut all the grasses before more the raining. It being too cold put the geraniums out side one more week.”
It doesn’t matter. He gets his message across and he is understood, and everybody is happy. Including me, because I loathe having to speak to the gardener who always insists on planting huge soggy kisses on either side of my face, leaving me staggering, dumbfounded and generally wet.
off the top of my head:-
lap – les genoux, ie knees (come sit on my lap = viens sur mes genoux)
to eat on the go – manger sur le pouce
a sun-lounger – un bain-soleil
a kiddy push-scooter – une trotinette
it makes me sick – ca me rend malade
to train a dog – dresser un chien
it does my head in – ca me casse la tete
rude – impoli, ie impolite. The word “rude” in French means rough, raw-ish, ie like a rude awakening
a place-mat – un sous-plat
nail varnish remover – dissolvant
short nightie – une chemisette; this can also be a little strappy vest thingy
velco – du scratch (though they also say velcro)
feeling peckish – avoir un petit creux (ie j’ai un p’tit creux = I am peckish)
a peck on the cheek – un petit bisou. Careful, the noun un baiser means a kiss, but the verb baiser means to make love.
stiff as a plank – raide comme la justice ! I love that one!
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