Tag Archives: Francais

Québec Part V: Saying Goodbye (5 Things I’ll Miss about the French Province)

I’m a pretty sentimental person, so as I think about the 5 weeks I’ve spend here in Quebec it’s easy to think of lots of things that I will miss. Since I’ve promised to try to write all my posts about Quebec in French, however, I’ve narrowed it down to one for each week.

The Food

Everyone knows that the French know what is up it comes to food. This past Sunday, for our last weekend together, several of us biked to a waterfall close-by for a little picnic. We stopped by an outdoor market on the way to pick up some bread. We bought a loaf of sun-dried tomato and chocolate cranberry bread. Afterwards we went to the fromagerie and bought several types of cheese. A couple of us also picked up a bottle of wine from the corner store (yes, there is wine available everywhere here). Then we sat in front of a waterfall feasting on bread and cheese and the grapes we packed along.

cheeseandbread

Then, of course, there were the restaurant-style meals we are fed each and everyday by our hosts.

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Quebec Pt. IV: 3 Indespensible (and Free) Tools for Translation

I cannot take personal responsibility for finding a single one of the amazing resources I’m going to include below. Instead, I have to give all the credit to the friends I’ve made here in Trois-Pistoles. If any of you happen to read this, thanks for being so rad.

Word Reference

Alright, I have to admit I still use Google Translate now and then, but there is a good reason teachers always tell you to stay away from it. It’s doing translation, and that is all. Unfortunately, literal translation can go very wrong. Like the time I planned a trip to France and told my hosts I could be “catching a coach” from the UK. Turns out instead of using the word for the vehicle, I used the French word for a sports-team coach. Awkward.

googletranslatefail

Also, Google Translate can be a little lazy sometimes.

So, when you find yourself searching for the right word, turn to WordReference instead. It’s not going to pretend to do all the work for you, like Google Translate, but it also isn’t going to pepper your translation with hilarious nonsensical phrases.

WodReference has “two of its own dictionaries plus those of Collins” and the French dictionary alone has “over 250,000 translations”. You can also find a verb conjugator and a forum for each language. Generally speaking you can find every possible definition of a given word, along with any idioms associated with it. If you do have trouble finding a word or phrase, however, you can often find an answer in the language forum. Continue reading

Quebec Pt. III: 4 Things You Inadvertently Learn in French Immersion

1) There are muscles in your mouth you’ve never used before

I’ve never thought much about language, at least not beyond trying to figure out what to say next. Even then I don’t really think things through. If you never had much of an interest in linguistics (like myself) it can come as a surprise when you start to learn about the basics of how spoken language works.

Here at Trois Pistole one of the French Teachers is a linguist and, incidentally, an anglophone. This gives him a lot of insight. As an English Speaker he has first-hand experience with the kind of mistakes we are likely to make while learning French. Then, as a linguist, he has a good idea of why exactly we make those mistakes. Luckily for us, he also hosts a phonetics clinic once a week to teach us the little details of pronunciation. Last week he focused on how French vowels work. The image I’ve included below is meant to represent where French vowel sounds come from in our mouths.

The French “i”, which sounds like an English “e”, is formed at the front of the mouth when the jaw closed (antérieure, fermée). In contract, the French “ɑ” comes from the back of the mouth and requires a wide open jaw (postérieure, ouverte).

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