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Posts Tagged ‘dictionary’

If what you’re doing isn’t working, change what you’re doing.

You’re putting in the time.

You study French vocabulary. You review verb conjugations. You work on improving your pronunciation.

You watch TV in French, doing your best to figure out what those moving mouths on the screen are saying.

You listen to the radio in French, trying to unscramble the incomprehensible gibberish the speakers are vomiting all over your ears.

You’re doing everything you thought you were supposed to be doing.

And yet, you feel stuck. You don’t feel like you’re making progress. You don’t understand what people are saying.

You always feel like you’re on the outside looking in.

And you’re frustrated.

Hell, maybe you’re even really pissed off. Pissed off to discover that all the work you’re doing to learn French isn’t paying off.

And now you’re convinced that you must absolutely suck at French. You practically believe that if you looked up the French word for suck in the dictionary, you’d find a dumb-ass picture of you as the definition.

But you don’t even remember how to say suck in French, which only serves to further convince you of just how much you suck.

Except it’s not true.

You don’t suck at French. C’est pas vrai que t’es poche en français.

But you are indeed stuck. Big time. And to get unstuck, you’ll need to tweak the way you’re doing things.

Um, hold on. That’s not quite right. No, you don’t need to tweak anything to get unstuck.

What you need is a major fucking overhaul.

Stop studying French so much and start living it instead. Find people to speak in French with on a regular basis. Even one person will do. More is better, but start with one.

This is without doubt the one thing that you must absolutely not neglect. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing everything else under the sun to learn French.

If you’ve got nobody to speak French with, you’re doing it wrong.

Ouch.

That’s tough to hear, isn’t it?

But deep down, you already knew it, even if you don’t like to admit it.

Let’s be honest. Expecting to feel at home in French without communicating with others is like watching an atheist pray to God for a miracle. It just doesn’t make sense.

If you’re just dabbling in French out of interest, then maybe none of this matters. But if what you want or need is to feel at home in French, then finding someone to speak with on a regular basis is the first issue you must resolve. This is a priority. For as long as it goes unresolved, you will always feel like an outsider in French.

What about studying? Isn’t that important too?

Yes, of course, you can study too. But it shouldn’t make up the majority of what you do.

If you get a thrill out of studying verb charts, then do it. But it won’t make you feel more at home in French. People make you feel at home in French. Studying verb charts mostly just makes you good at studying verb charts.

Sure, studying has some benefits. It can help you to make sense of what you hear. It can provide you with the vocabulary you want to know. Listening to the radio and watching TV in French can improve your listening comprehension. But this is mostly on the condition that you’re already spending lots of time speaking with people in French.

Studying isn’t necessarily bad. After all, this is entry #739 on OffQc. But many of us suffer from a tendency to go way overboard on the studying side, and way underboard on the speaking-with-humans side.

Maybe you’ve read OffQc today. Maybe you’ve learned a new word, like poche. Maybe you’ve even reviewed how to conjugate a tricky verb. You’ve probably studied enough today.

But you’re not finished with French.

Put your books away, or your laptop, or your smartphone, and figure out what you’re going to do to begin forming a bond with someone who speaks French.

Don’t put it off any longer.

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Bienvenue aux chialeux et aux chialeusesI saw this illuminated ad in the métro for the Petit Larousse 2014 from France:

Bienvenue aux
CHIALEUX et aux
CHIALEUSES.

The Larousse people are letting us know that these québécois usages have been added to the new edition of their dictionary.

Un chialeux is a nag, a complainer, a whiner. Chialeux and chialeuse are pronounced chiâleux and chiâleuse.

A blogger has this to say about himself:

Personne n’aime un chialeux. Sérieux là, même moi en me relisant, je me trouvais chiant.
Nobody likes a complainer. Like seriously, even I found myself annoying when I reread my writing.

The verb chialer (pronounced chiâler) means to complain, to whine.

The Usito dictionary gives us some examples:

Arrête de chialer!
Stop complaining!

chialer contre le gouvernement
to complain about the government

chialer sur tout et sur rien
to complain about anything and everything

Qui sont ces gens qui chialent?An Urbania article asks:

Qui sont ces gens qui chialent?

Jamais contents. Toujours en train de pleurer. Super blasés. Continuellement en train de se lamenter. Sur toutes les tribunes, dans tous les salons, pour un oui, pour un non, on les entend chialer tout le temps.

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Le petit guide du parler québécoisTo give more depth to your knowledge of Quebec French vocabulary, I can suggest the Petit guide du parler québécois by Mario Bélanger, 3rd edition.

This book is the size of a paperback novel, organised by keywords in alphabetical order. The entries contain useful example sentences.

I like this book for five reasons:

1. affordable ($13)
2. pertinent choice of vocabulary
3. good example sentences
4. culture and pronunciation notes
5. easy to browse

If you’re a word nerd, I’m sure you’ll like it. It’s the sort of book that you can dip into at any point and discover something new.

For the amount of vocab included, $13 is a really good price. There are other books out there for about the same price, even cheaper ones, but the content isn’t very satisfying. The vocabulary presented in this book will be pertinent to your everyday life as a learner of French.

Two sample entries:

The keyword is in bold. The example sentence is in italics. In parentheses, an equivalent in “international” French.

COUDON adv. Coudon, c’est qui ce gars-là? (Au fait, pendant que j’y pense.) R. Déformation de « écoute donc ».

ÉPICERIE n.f. Elle profite de sa sortie pour faire l’épicerie. (Faire le marché.)

I can suggest casually browsing this book to familiarise yourself with lots of vocabulary and examples, and then complement this by listening to large amounts of spoken French from Québec.

When you’re done browsing, it becomes a good reference.

You can buy it or see a sample page here. You can also buy it in the major bookshops in Québec.

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