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Archive for November, 2012

Maybe during your study of French you’ve come across the pronunciation icitte instead of ici.

What’s the difference between icitte and ici?

Both icitte and ici mean the same thing: “here.”

The difference between the two isn’t one of meaning but of language level.

Icitte belongs to the level of language called populaire, just like the pronunciations moé and toé (for moi and toi).

You may have come across icitte before in song lyrics, stand-up comedy, or some forms of literature. However, you should know that icitte is felt to be an uneducated usage by certain speakers. It carries stigma — certain people disapprove of its use.

As a learner of French, your use of icitte may strike certain people as inappropriate or out of place, but this will depend on the people in your social circle.

Like moé and toé, I’d suggest you learn to recognise icitte but that you avoid using it yourself at this stage.

Ici, on the other hand, is used in all language situations and carries no stigma. You’ll never make a social blunder with ici.

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When you’re speaking in French with francophones, be very easy on yourself. Let your thoughts come out and pay no attention to your mistakes in that moment.

(And for goodness sake, don’t worry about whether your French is sufficiently québécois or not. I know that some of you worry about this, but there’s no need to pass for a native whatsoever.)

There’s a time and place for paying attention to details — when you’re studying at home and making a deliberate attempt to improve your French, for example.

But when you’re maintaining a conversation in French, turn that part of your brain off altogether. Don’t look at conversations as speaking practice or moments of truth. Just communicate. Forget about being eloquent.

Ironically, once you remove the obligation to speak beautiful French during conversations, the more likely you are to approach it.

If you free yourself of unreasonable demands, you’ll seek out more conversations in French and become experienced in communicating. You can’t do that if you’re always beating yourself up for bad French and shutting down because of it.

It may take practice shutting your critical self off during conversations. But once you learn how to do it, you’ll feel a huge weight lifted off your shoulders.

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A new and interesting option for those of you willing to spend a bit of money for a structured course on spoken Québécois:

Le québécois en 10 leçons
(self-published by Alexandre Coutu)

Divided into 10 lessons, this new book (written completely in French only) includes dialogues in Québécois, downloadable recordings, detailed grammar and vocabulary explanations and many exercises.

You can check out the first lesson here.

You can also read more about Alexandre’s book in his guest post on Fluent in 3 Months. There are some recordings there too.

Strong points about the book:

– Lots of explanations for those of you who appreciate a structured approach
– Good focus on relaxed pronunciation with recordings
– Excellent way of reviewing or for getting a condensed overview of spoken Québécois
– Focuses on the kind of relaxed and very informal language that learners struggle with the most

This book will help you to increase your comprehension of spoken Québécois at the levels of language referred to as familier and populaire in French.

These are the levels of language that learners find very challenging to understand. For this reason, Alexandre’s book fills an important gap.

You’ll come across pronunciations that are often stigmatised at the populaire level of language, however. For example, the dialogues use moé and toé instead of moi and toi. I might suggest that you stick with moi and toi yourself.

As usual, only through long exposure to French and social situations in Quebec will you genuinely be able to feel language levels, and when it might be advisable to avoid certain pronunciations yourself as a non-Québécois learner of French.

If you buy the book, be sure to come back here and share your impressions.

Congratulations on publishing your book Alexandre!

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Thank you everybody for your very kind messages of support following my accident.

Although it’ll be a while before I’m back up on my feet, your messages have made me eager to start writing again!

Some practical issues are slowing me down, however. If you’ve sent an email and I haven’t responded, I ask for your patience.

In the past few months, some of you have asked for help with smartphone vocabulary in French.

For this entry, I thought you might like to extend your knowledge of talking about data usage associated with a smartphone (un téléphone intelligent).

When you choose a plan with your service provider, you choose un forfait in French. This is an important word to learn. Un forfait de base is a basic plan.

Some things that you may do with your plan include changing it or cancelling it:

modifier mon forfait
to change my plan

annuler mon forfait
to cancel my plan

The French word for “data” is données. So un forfait de données is a data plan.

Some things you need data for are la navigation web, les courriels, la messagerie instantanée and les applications.

If your plan included, for example, 500 MB of data, you’d talk of 500 Mo de données in French, or 500 mégaoctets de données.

Keeping an eye on your data usage? Vous gardez un œil sur votre consommation de données. You could also speak of your utilisation de données.

If you’re almost at your limit, votre limite est presque atteinte!

Maybe you use a lot of data. In this case, you could say: j’utilise beaucoup de données.

On the other hand, if you’re unsure of your usage habits, you could ask for advice before choosing a plan: pouvez-vous m’aider à estimer la quantité de données dont j’aurai besoin?

If you discovered that your plan didn’t include enough data, you could be in need of some données additionnelles… or maybe une zone WiFi with free access!

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A few weeks ago, I was injured in an accident. I am unable to fully commit to the blog right now because of this.

Things are probably going to be quiet around here for a while, but I will be back!

In the meantime, check out some of the programming on tou.tv — some of my usual recommendations are there: Les Parent, La Galère, 30 vies…

Remember that one of the keys to moving forward is to keep extending your boundaries. Look for novel ways that allow you to speak and listen to French in different contexts.

Stay dedicated to your French and we’ll meet again here soon enough.

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