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April 03, 2006


I admire this. Deeply.

You inspire me, Beth.

Hey that's so cool! All these languages around the world... so little time to learn them all...

J'aime beaucoup votre écriture =) Et merci pour les deux versions francaises (mon c-cédille alt+0231 est mapped à "page up" ... désolée...) parce que j'écris plutôt comme vous et cela m'aide à mieux comprendre le sens de le francais parlé et écrit.

Vous les appelez des 'prêtresses' au Canada? Ici aux Etats-Unis, c'est un vrai faux pas d'appeler un prêtre qui est femme "prêtresse" ... et c'est seulement les ultra-conservatifs qui s'en sert ... dans un facon très négatif, bien sûr...

Wow Beth how impressive, puts my pitiful high-school French (how long ago!) to shame! And I'm shocked that you had 20C there - we haven't had that in Vancouver yet. C'est le printemps!

What a lovely idea this is - to honour your new part-time home by beginning a practice of thinking and writing, exercising such an important part of yourself, in French. Your French will grow, I think, as you mould it to lyricism and metaphor, as well as to the everyday. And your writing will grow as you internalise the rhythms and allusions of French. What a wonderful prospect!

Mais ca me fait tellement chier que meme a Montreal il a fait 20 degres, pendant que nous a Londres avons toujours froid!

Wait - you're telling me that if I come to Montreal, not only will i not understand the language, I won't be able to read the damn thermometer?!

St. Antonym, Butuki, Jean, Marja-Leena, Andrea - thanks for your encouragement! I am embarrassed about my French, which is good enough to allow me to communicate basic needs and concepts, and to read, but not good enough to allow much subtlety in self-expression. I'm also really slow, which is pointed out to me over and over again by my facility and speed in English. I had a good background, but that was 30 years ago. Now that my book is done one of my goals is to spend part of every day on language practice. I find I learn a lot when I try to write, so that is going to be part of the plan - and, as with conversational French, I think you just have to leap in and not worry about making mistakes. The French-speakers I know have been so kind and so helpful, it makes it much easier.

Andrea - merci! Il n'y a pas de mot en francais pour un prêtre qui est une femme! C'est la raison pour "prêtresse" en guillemets. Mais vous avez raison - c'est un faux pas. Anyone have any other ideas of how to express this? A good example of language reflecting society - until Anglican churches started ordaining women, there WERE no female priests in the largely-Catholic, French-speaking countries, and hence there's no word for them.

Yes, Dave, it's true - sorry! I am still trying to "feel" the centigrade temperature without translating it mathematically, and I'm not there yet. But for the most part, visitors to Montreal WILL be able to understand a lot of the language, because a lot of what you come across in public is bilingual, including signage, and there is a great deal of English spoken.

I think this is lovely too. I once thought of doing something like this with German, the only language I know well enough even to imagine it, but I quailed. Too worried about making mistakes!

Hey Dale! Just do it! Who cares about mistakes? Mistakes are just another way of waying things...that's "saying" things (see I even make mistakes in English). If I worried about mistakes I make in my own German I would never say anything at all!

Beth, my instinctive usage would be "une pretre". This is based on my experience working for an international women's organisation where French was one of the official languages, along with English and Spanish, our practice then and my own continuing wish to adopt the least sexist practice in all languages. But that was some time ago and of course I would bow to the currently prevailing view among francophone feminists. Google lists about 600 uses of "une pretre" or "la pretre" (as opposed to hundreds of thousands of "pretresse", of course!).

Jean, that's an excellent suggestion and one I wondered about. As an American who is used to gender-neutral language, I find I bristle at the gender-specific French words for people in professions sometimes: "vendeuses", for example. "Priestess" clearly gives the wrong idea, in both French and English, and while the French language does insist on either "un" or "une", at least the word itself can be simply "priest."

Bravo Beth!
20C? Ici, in Yorkshire, il neige this afternoon!

The 20C departed after the weekend and we've had wet snow off and on all afternoon here, too. But that's OK - warmth is on the way.

The trouble with the weather in England (as they say, there ain't no *climate*) is that we can't even be sure that warmth *is* on the way! Forecast here is rainy - yes, I know, the gardens need it...

Bravo Beth! This is fantastic. And very brave. You're an inspiration...

Beth, I really appreciate your posting the version with errors... very helpful to those others of us who also wish to continue learning. Thank you! ... And brava!!

Congratulations Beth! I enjoyed the story as well.

beth! C'est très impressionant. You managed to infuse the French with the flavour of your English-language writing. Obviously it won't take you long to start writing a novel entirely in French.

Natalie, I'm glad if that's the case, but I think in actuality my French sounds entirely like English translated into French - which it pretty much is! But speaking and writing French as French will come in time, I hope. It works both ways: on the bus today I was talking to a very nice French woman who said in English, when she heard I was American, "So you're resting here with us?" I do love this aspect of language, and expect it will become more and more interesting as I get more familiar with the subtleties.

The idea of writing ANYthing lengthy in French gives me an immediate headache!

'so you're resting here with us?" - oh, I love that! And the lesson of it vis that one wants of course to grow in vocabulary and understanding of subtlety and choices available in a new language, to be able to communicate oneself as fully as possible, but not, I think, to become perfect, or just like a native-speaker, because the eccentricities of exchange between languages enrich them so much.

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