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Apr 19

Counting In French

Counting In French Helped Me Remember Les Nombres.

Les nombres (numbers) are difficult for me to remember in French. If I’m not forgetting the words for chaque nombre (each number), I’m trying to figure out if we’re talking about four twenties or eighty!

I have a hard time remembering les nombres in any language other than ma langue maternelle (my native language). I think it is related to how les nombres lack any context that helps me remember them. It feels like nothing but a list of random sounds to memorise!

It is also frustrating when most of the time numbers are not written out so you can see how they are pronounced. You are much more likely to see 80 than you are eighty or quatre-vingts.

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This only gets worse if you’re dealing with des grands nombres (large numbers):

1 577 289 393,31

Un milliard cinq cent soixante-dix-sept millions deux cent quatre-vingt-neuf mille trois cent quatre-vingt-treize virgule trente et un

One billion five hundred seventy-seven million two hundred eighty-nine thousand three hundred ninety-three point thirty-one

Being able to understand a large string of numbers that sometimes use words milliard and billiard is un casse-tête (a headache). On top of that une virgule is used instead of un point for the decimal point.

C’est tellement difficile à retenir !

It’s so hard to remember!

The solution for me was to find a way to make les nombres so embedded in my brain that I knew them par coeur (by heart). I would never have to remember les nombres, I would just know them.

In order to have les nombres solidly placed in my memory I began counting anything I could en français. Les pages d’un livre, mes crayons, mes pas, etc (the pages of a book, my pencils, my steps, etc).

Where I made the most progress was during mon entraînement matinal (my morning excercise). Compter (counting) would keep my mind distracted and help me practice les nombres en français!

Un, deux, trois…

One, two, three…

It wasn’t easy and I would often get lost, repeat numbers, or skip numbers, especially with the 70s and the 90s:

Soixante-huit, soixante-neuf…. Euh… sept… soixante-dix, soixante-onze…

Sixty-eight, sixty-nine… uh… seven… seventy, seventy-one…

Eventually that daily practice made it easier to remember les nombres en français. I could remember les números de telephone and follow mes cours de comptabilité (my accounting classes) without any problem!

I wasn’t doing un milliard de pompes (a billion push-ups), but the practice made it easier to remember all French numbers!

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Blog submitted by: Alex at The French Property Network - Cle France.

This blog was originally posted on The French Language Blog pages.

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Apr 13

Easter Vocabulary in French

Joyeuses Paques ! Some Easter Vocabulary in French

This week has been a holy one for Christians around the world. It’s called Paschal Triduum (and is sometimes referred to as the Easter Triduum), and it contains 3 important days in the life of Jesus Christ. Maundy Thursday (jeudi saint) commemorates the Maundy (the Washing of the Feet) and the Last Supper. Good Friday (vendredi saint) refers to the crucifixion and death of Jesus, and Holy Saturday (you guessed it – samedi saint) commemorates the day Jesus’s body lay in the tomb.

The following day is Easter Sunday (Pâques), and it’s about a lot more than some dyed eggs and chocolate.

On this day –  'le troisième jour' (the third day) – we celebrate la résurrection de Jésus (the resurrection of Jesus Christ).

Ash Wednesday (mercredi des Cendres) is the start of Lent (le carême) and lasts 40 days. It’s common for followers to choose something to give up for Lent.

"Lent is about conversion, turning our lives more completely over to Christ and his way of life. That always involves giving up sin in some form. The goal is not just to abstain from sin for the duration of Lent but to root sin out of our lives forever. Conversion means leaving behind an old way of living and acting in order to embrace new life in Christ. For catechumens, Lent is a period intended to bring their initial conversion to completion."

I think it’s fair to say that most things people choose to abstain from aren’t exactly sins – some of my friends gave up and Starbucks and Facebook this year.

While Easter always falls on a Sunday, the date on the calendar varies every year. We celebrate this date on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox, so we’re looking at some point between March 22nd and April 25th.

In France during the Paschal Triduum? Don’t expect to hear any Church bells.

The tradition states that all church bells fly to the Vatican to be blessed by le Pape (the Pope) before returning. They don’t come empty handed (let’s pretend that bells have hands for this) – they come back with gifts and chocolates and drop them off into the homes of children on the way back.

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Let’s take a look at Easter-related vocabulary in French

Paques – Easter  (note that this word is not used with an article and always has an S

la Paque – Passover (note the lack of S and the usage of an article)

pascal(e) – adjective meaning 'of Easter'

le Careme – Lent

le mercredi des Cendres – Ash Wednesday

le dimanche des Rameaux – Palm Sunday

la semaine sainte – Holy Week

le jeudi saint – Maundy Thursday

le vendredi saint – Good Friday

le samedi saint – Holy Saturday

les cloches de Paques – Flying Easter Bells

le printemps – spring

une église – church

un panier – a basket

un jeune – fast, fasting

le chocolat – chocolate

un œuf – egg

un lapin – rabbit

un poussin – chick

une poule – hen

un agneau – lamb

un poisson – fish

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Blog submitted by: Alex at The French Property Network - Cle France.

This blog was originally posted on The French Language Blog pages.

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Apr 1

April Fools Day - Paper Fish

In France, an April Fool's joke is known as Poisson d'Avril - April Fish. Why else would we show you a picture of a fish rather than a house for sale in France!

Many a 1st April has been spent with me walking round completely oblivious to the fact I have a paper fish on my back, read on to learn why.

In all regions of France there will be a lot more Fish available and being bought for celebratory lunches, a bit like Pancake Day BUT with Fish!

April Fools day in France

Photo by OrigamiNate on Flickr.

Humour can be a bit hard to understand in another language, whether it’s a "knock knock" joke, or an inside joke that you’re not in on. Heureusement (fortunately), April Fool’s Day exists in France. That said, it has a different set of traditions and a very different name: April Fish or in French, Poisson d’arvil.

The holiday is celebrated with des plaisanteires et des canulars (jokes and pranks), but also by trying to accrocher un poisson de papier dans le dos de tes amis (stick paper fish on your friends’ backs)!

The name poisson d’avril comes from an old tradition dating back to 1564. La légende veut que (Legend has it that) the year used to start on April 1st, but was changed to January 1st by Charles IX. The old new year’s tradition involved a gift exchange, mais (but) some people n’étaient pas au courant du changement (were not aware of the change) and continued to exchange gifts on April 1st after le changement. Other people then used the occasion de se moquer d’eux (to make fun of them)!

But why fish? The old new year était pendant (was during) the end of le Carême (Lent). Christians would be fasting, but they could still eat fish. The joke of giving un faux poisson (a fake fish) began as une blague (a joke) on the old tradition of giving real fish as gifts. Donc le nom (Thus the name), poisson d’avril.

The tradition continues today and kids all over France will try to sneak up and accrocher un poisson papier dans le dos de ses amis. When the friend le découvre (finds out), the surprise is met with shouts of Poisson d’arvil! much the same way un gag similaire (a similar gag) would be met with April Fool’s! in the English speaking world.

Voici une liste de vocabulaire pour le poisson d’arvil:

Une plaisanterie – A joke

Une blague – A joke, a trick

Un canular – A prank

Un gag – A joke, a gag

Un poisson papier – A paper Fish

Poisson d’avril! – April Fools!

Accrother un poisson de papier dans le dos de quelqu’un – Stick a paper fish on someone’s back

Start your pranking out right and accrochez un poisson de papier dans le dos de quelqu’un!

Cle Mortgages

Blog submitted by: Alex at The French Property Network - Cle France.

This blog was originally posted on The French Language Blog pages.

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Apr 1

In France, an April Fool's joke is known as Poisson d'Avril

In France, an April Fool's joke is known as Poisson d'Avril - April Fish. That's why the people in the postcard below are holding a fish!

In all regions of France there will be a lot more Fish available and being bought for celebratory lunches, a bit like Pancake Day BUT with Fish!

The first year my son played an April Fools joke on me I was confused as to why he kept shouting "Poisson d'Avril, Poisson d'Avril, Poisson d'Avril", the calming influence of my wife explaining why he was repeatedly shouting this phrase thankfully avoided me having him see a costly psychiatrist and as it turns out, he is fine. 

This postcard was originally sent in 1908 and the words on the bottom translate as:

'When you receive our nice fish, you'll know we're always thinking of you.'

To be honest if you opened the door at these two characters were standing there you would have a right to be scared! but they are no doubt charming friendly neighbours as is the norm in France.

The 'rules' of April Fool's and Poisson d'Avril are more or less the same thing, other than the French have a Fascination for Fish! The tradition in France is that along with practical jokes and bogus news stories, putting paper fish on the backs of unsuspecting victims is thought as hilarious, those crazy French japes eh! 

Here's a little April 1st film trivia for you: What gritty and stylish 1970's police movie takes place in Marseille where the opening scene is on April 1st?

See Below for the answer.

April Fools Day in France

Pictured above: Sharon & David earlier today!

ANSWER IS: the French Connection II. In the opening scenes of the movie, Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle (played by Gene Hackman) meets Henri Barthélémy (played by Bernard Fresson), in front of the gendarmarie in Marseille. Barthélémy is looking for drugs, where else but in a fish of course, based on a tip. He doesn't find any, as it's a Poisson d'Avril it is a joke played on the police, get it?

Anybody played any good "Poisson d'Avril" jokes or had one played on them?

Blog submitted by: David at The French Property Network - Cle France.

Thanks for the website 'Americans in France' for the original French Postcard image.

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Mar 21

Getting a Haircut, in French

Une Visite Chez Le Coiffeur

Here’s a short story in French (with it’s English translation below) about my son’s monthly trips to the barbershop. Following these three paragraphs, you can find the vocabulary used in the story as well as additional vocabulary you can use for your own trip to the hairdresser.

Chaque mois, mon mari amène notre fils chez le coiffeur, où notre fils s’assoit dans une petite voiture rouge faite de plastique et où il se fait tailler ses cheveux.

Normalement, mon mari demande au coiffeur une coupe de footballeur, ce que veut dire qu’il coupe les cheveux très court sur les côtes et les laisse longs sur le dessus.

Si notre fils reste calmement, il va avoir une sucette!

English Translation:

Every month, my husband brings our son to the barber, where our son gets to sit in a little, red plastic car and have his hair trimmed.

Normally, my husband asks the barber for a “soccer player’s haircut,” which just means short on the side and long on top.

If our son sits quietly, he will get a lollipop!

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After reading that short story in French, here’s some additional vocabulary to help you when you need a trip to the barber or hairdresser:

hair: les cheveux (Remember: hair is always plural (m.) unless you are talking about a single strand of hair.)

haircut: une coupe

trim: tailler

barber: le coiffeur

a lock of hair: une mèche

bangs: une frange

hair part: une raie

crew cut: coupe en brosse

clippers: la tondeuse

hair ends: les pointes

Layered on top: dégradé sur le dessus

dyed: colorés

curly: bouclés

smooth: lisses

fine: fins

dry: secs

thick: épais

thick: gras

normal: normaux

a blow-dry or straightening treatment: un brushing

shampoo: le shampooing

conditioner: l’après shampooing

the sides: les côtes

the top: le dessus.

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Blog submitted by: David at The French Property Network - Cle France.

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