Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Week in France - part 3

Continuing from where we were last ...

She: "Que tu veux faire maintenant? What do you want to do now?" (Kuh tu vuh fair maN-tuh-nuN)
You: "D'abord, je veux boire quelque chose. J'ai soif. First, I would like to drink something. I am thirsty." (Daa-borr, juh vuh bwar kel-kuh shoes. Jay swaf.)
She: "Il y a un café là-bas. Allons-y.” There is a café over there. Let's go there." (Ill ee aa aN cafey luh-baa. Aallon-zee)


Important points:
1. Veux is a verb form of voulour, meaning ‘to want’.
2. The second verb in a sentence always takes the infinite form (the form it appears in the dictionary) – which is rather convenient. Hence, je veux boire (I want to drink). ‘I drink’ will translate to je bois.
3. In French, you are never hungry or thirsty. You always have hunger (J’ai faim) and thirst (J’ai soif). Note that J’ai => Je + ai. French has many such contractions. That's what makes the language flow so freely. The 'e' of the last word always disappears when followed by a word starting with a vowel.
ai is a verb form of avoir, meaning ‘to have’.
4. The tiny letter ‘y’ is perhaps one of the most used word in French. It mean ‘there’.
5. You will find the phrase ‘il y a’ very frequently used. Its literal translation is ‘he there has’, but it is always taken to mean ‘there is’ or ‘there are’.
6. Un stands for ‘a’, so does une. Un is used in front of masculine nouns, une in front of feminine: une maison (a house). There is no rhyme or reason why a word is masculine and another feminine.
7. Did you notice how the 's' of allons went and got attached to 'y'? This is another of that smooth-flowing language trick used by the French.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Week in France - so far

Here's a quick recap of the first two episodes of the story.
You: « Bonjour!" »
She: « Bonjour!" »
You: « Comment allez vous? »

She: "I think we have known each other for some time now." She says smiling.

Wow! Ok ... rewind

You: « Ça va? »
She: « Ça va bien, merci! Et toi? »
You: « très bien, merci! »
She: « Comment était le vol? »
You: « Pas mal. »
She: « Tu es fatigué? »
You (male ego in place): « Pas du tout! »
She: « Combien de temps et-tu à Paris? »
You: « Une semaine seulement. »
She: « C'est génial! Je peux te montrer Paris le week-end. »
You: « Super! »
I bet you understood every word. No? Revisit the previous two posts.
And if you read it carefully, you will notice one additional dialog. Which one is it? And what does it mean?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Week in France - part 2

All language learning books that I have come across, teach languages in slightly different order from how we would speak. This caused me lot of frustration because I could not begin to speak soon enough.

You see, the books first address the present tense completely and then move on to the past tense and final to the 'future' tense. Unfortunately that is not how we speak.

When we speak we mix past and present. See below ...

The scene continues from where we left it last (see last lesson).

She: "Comment était le vol? How was the journey?" (kommoN ay-tay luh vole? )
You: "Pas mal. Not bad." (Paa maal)

She: "Tu es fatigué? Are you tired?" (tu ay faatigay)
You (male ego in place): "Pas du tout! Not at all!" (paas doo too)
She: "Combien de temps et-tu à Paris? How long are you here?" (kombee-aN duh toN ay-tu aa Paree?)

You: "Une semaine seulement. One week only." (oon suh-mayne seul-moN)

She: "C'est génial! Je peux te montrer Paris le week-end”. That is great. I can show you Paris over the week end." (Say jay-nee-aal. Zuh puh tuh moNtray Paree luh week-end.)

You: "Super! Great!" (Soopair)
As you can see, even in the first conversation we mix up the past and the present. It is a necessary part of any conversation. A delayed learning of the past tense prevents you from useful conversation.
Since you and the girl are using the ‘tu’ form, it is worthwhile noting what the formal form would be for the following:
Combien de temps et-tu à Paris ? => Combien de temps êtes-vous à Paris?
Je peux te montrer Paris le week-end. => Je peux vous montrer Paris le week-end.

A couple of pronunciation tips:
Whenever you encounter N, go nasal.
Keep your "t" and "d" soft. The trick is to keep your tongue at the base of upper set of incisor teeth.