Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘friend’

We’ve been looking at questions that use as-tu and t’as lately, so let’s continue with another one that you’ll find useful:

T’as quel âge?
How old are you?

Maybe you’ve learned to ask this question as quel âge as-tu?, which is of course correct, but it doesn’t sound like the sort of thing someone would be very likely to say in a regular conversation.

In entry #717, I wrote about when the inversion can still sound conversational in Québec, and when it doesn’t. With question words (comment, pourquoi, quand, etc.), the inversion is largely avoided in conversations. This is also true of the question asking quel âge.

Remember, tu as generally contracts to t’as in regular conversations, which is why you’re more likely to hear t’as quel âge? than tu as quel âge?

You may even hear the question asked with toi added in:

T’as quel âge, toi?

Just remember that asking t’as quel âge? is informal — it’s OK to use it with someone you’ve become friends with, for example.

Read Full Post »

A guy in his late teens or early 20s standing in front of a shopping centre asked me if he could use my phone. He was waiting for a friend to pick him up, but it was taking his friend a long time to arrive.

The guy called his friend from my phone, but there was no answer. So he also sent his friend a text message from my phone:

Yo c pablo jsui la men c long fuck

Can you decipher the message?

Yo, c’est Pablo. J’suis là, man. C’est long, fuck.
Yo, it’s Pablo. I’m here, man. What’s taking so long, fuck.

Maybe you’ll remember that je suis is pronounced informally as chu or chui. On OffQc, I’ve used the spellings j’sus (chu) and j’suis (chui), but you’ll come across other spellings too.

C’est long! It’s taking a long time! What’s taking so long? Maybe you’re waiting for the bus and it’s taking a long time: c’est long! Or, like Pablo, maybe you’ve been waiting a really long time for a friend to arrive and you’re losing patience: c’est long, fuck!

Don’t pronounce the g in long. This word rhymes with mon.

Read Full Post »

People ask in forums online where to live in Montréal to learn French.

It matters little where you live in Montréal.

Furthermore, this is the wrong question.

The better question to ask is:
How will I spend my days?

Will you attend university in French? Will you accept work in French? Will you join a group where there are francophones? Will you share an apartment with a francophone?

There’s nothing preventing you from learning French in a typically non-francophone neighbourhood.

I have a Turkish friend who speaks fluent French. He never left Istanbul to learn French. He works in a hotel. He spends his days speaking with people.

It doesn’t matter that his neighbours speak Turkish. It doesn’t matter if your neighbours don’t speak French.

It may not even matter if your neighbours do in fact speak French. Just because there are francophones in your street doesn’t guarantee anything.

If you want francophone “atmosphere,” by all means, pick a typically francophone neighbourhood.

But don’t stop there, because what really matters is who you’ll spend your days with.

Focus on that instead if you’re serious about learning French in Montréal (or anywhere).

Read Full Post »

When I lived in Istanbul in 2003, I did everything wrong to learn Turkish.

Everything.

  • I took Turkish classes instead of speaking in Turkish with Turkish people.
  • I spoke in English or French with the Turkish friends that I had made, instead of speaking in Turkish.
  • I studied Turkish from a textbook used in my class, instead of reading stuff that Turkish people read.
  • I listened to recordings accompanying the textbook, instead of listening to real conversations and stuff that Turkish people listen to.

I don’t speak Turkish very well today despite all of my hard work. I can have simple conversations, but it’s far from what I’d actually call knowing how to speak Turkish.

If I could do it all over again, here’s what I’d do:

  • Never attend a single Turkish class ever again in my life.
  • Consult a textbook only very occasionally, mostly to resolve a doubt.
  • Speak in Turkish with the Turkish friends that I had made. (Duh!)
  • Perhaps use recordings made for learners, but keep it to a minimum.
  • Listen to insane amounts of real conversations in Turkish and authentic materials (TV, radio).
  • Cultivate my sense of adventure and throw caution to the wind.

In fact, that’s exactly how I learned Spanish.

With Turkish, I took a much more “traditional” approach. By that, I mean that I studied it like a subject. How stupid of me! I was much smarter when the time came for me to learn Spanish.

The truth is that I really didn’t care about learning Spanish at the time. This indifference towards Spanish allowed me to get rid of all my inhibitions.

I spoke when I wanted to, said it any old way I knew how, and just didn’t give a damn what people thought. I listened to anything in Spanish just for the hell of it. I didn’t care if I understood it or not.

I speak fluent Spanish today.

Turkish, on the other hand…

I cared very much about learning Turkish. I might even say too much. I tried to “manage” my learning. I tried to do everything in graded doses so that I wouldn’t scare myself too much by coming up against what I couldn’t understand.

What I should have done was just say to hell with it like I later did with Spanish.

I’m not saying you should stop caring about learning French. That would be silly.

What I’m saying is:

  • Stop worrying about learning French.

What I’m also saying is:

  • Expose yourself to lots of French that you don’t understand. If what you don’t understand exhausts and frustrates you, you’re worrying about learning French. See the bulleted point immediately above.
  • Ditch your inhibitions. They are not your friends. They will only hold you back.
  • Stop trying to manage your learning like at school. You’ll never feel at home in French unless you stop doing that.
  • To hell with what you don’t understand right now. You’ll understand it someday without having to force it.
  • Drop your guard and make mistakes. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not even trying.

Read Full Post »