Non classé

What if it was the spelling’s fault after all?

Or why it is absolutely necessary to put things into perspective and to play it down in order to get out of it… A few weeks ago, it was “Ke Bi” who asked us: “Do you have an explanation for the pronunciation of the letter x ( s ) in dix-sept and ( z ) in dix-neuf?  “

A picture is worth a thousand words and we will let Arnaud Hoedt and Jérôme Piron, linguists by training, answer this question in a hilarious way. 

A small glimpse, in pictures, of the incongruities of our beloved language, in this humorous conference with high added value on certain historical, linguistic and phonological aspects of the evolution of the French language…

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For your information, in 2016, they wrote and directed the show “La Convivialité”, at the Théâtre National de Bruxelles. This conference show that deals with the question of the dogmatic relationship to spelling has been touring the French-speaking world for three years. In the aftermath, they published the book “La faute de l’orthographe”, published by Textuel. They define themselves as follows: “Dilet(t)ante linguists. Pedagogues in their robes. Try to correct the past participle. Write stuff. True-False Comedians. Eaters of academics”.

To the question “is it said? “Arnaud and Jérôme invariably answer “yes, you just did”.

The question of the day is from Amer Grine, from the group: French, reading and writing…

I would love to know how you learned to spell the words in French… It’s a very difficult spelling that contains many exceptions…How do you manage to have all these words in your head?

Here is my answer: 

Since a large proportion of native French speakers have significant difficulties with written French, your goal of excellence is commendable but virtually unattainable for three reasons:: 

1- difficulties and exceptions have been consciously generated over the centuries by the dominant class to classify and sort learners by levels and prevent access to knowledge and positions of responsibility for the working classes! 

2- Political and educational quarrels have accentuated these difficulties because of the lack of consensus between the “classics” and the “moderns”… Hence a sort of dual system that co-exists and alternately dominates according to the political party in power! 

3- the successive reforms and the “societal” evolutions of the language have most often tended to make French more complex, the last one in 1990 is a perfect illustration, I will have the opportunity to come back to it…

Moral : do your best and enjoy yourself without feeling guilty. Have fun with the French language, enjoy its musicality and above all share its art of living! 

To illustrate my point, here is a jubilant video by Muriel Gilbert who will give you a very instructive and edifying demonstration of a mechanism that has been at work for centuries. What she tells you deserves to be known in order to RELAX and RELAX with the difficulties of the French language to make it a playful gymnastics and not a perpetually vain torture! Sharing this vision with learners gives us a breath of fresh air without losing our taste for excellence.

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The art of conversation, a shared responsibility…

When he talks, he talks, he talks and I can’t get a word in edgewise…

It is sometimes a very embarrassing situation for learners to have worked hard beforehand to be able to participate in a conversation and to find themselves in an exchange where a native French speaker monopolizes the floor without leaving any room for the interlocutor who is making the effort to speak in French. It is even worse when our learners understand 90% of the information that is transmitted and there is no particular problem with vocabulary or contextualization. 

This generates frustration and also doubt about one’s ability to intervene, to speak and to interact with native French speakers. Indeed, it is rare to have at one’s disposal a “talking stick” that allows one to regulate speaking and active listening times… 

A vague sense of shame sometimes overwhelms the speaker who has not been able to engage in the conversation: “I didn’t meet his expectations… I should have spoken up more… Why did I stay silent… I wanted to speak…” A sense of failure can have a lasting impact on future conversations, yet it’s not very fair. 

What must be kept in mind is that in an exchange, the responsibility for the quality of the information transmitted lies with both speakers. If one of the two is obviously very voluble, it is necessary to RELATIZE and not to take for oneself an incapacity to speak.

En prenant un peu de hauteur, ce qui est essentiel, c’est l’objectif de cette conversation : 

What information did I need to hear and what information did I need to convey?

To find a place in this exchange, it is necessary to provoke breathing times thanks to a tool: the art of reformulation.

Here are some standard phrases that may be useful in such cases:

Peut-on faire une pause pour reformuler ce que nous nous sommes dit s’il vous plait? : Can we take a break to rephrase what we said to each other please?

Est-ce qu’on peut faire un bilan de notre conversation ? : Can we take stock of our conversation?

Est-ce que j’ai oublié quelque chose d’important? : Did I forget something important?

Si, j’ai bien compris, ce que nous nous sommes dit…: If I understood correctly, what we said to each other…

Si je vous comprends bien, vous avez essayé de me dire que… : If I understand you correctly, you tried to tell me that…

Vous me dites que… : You’re telling me that…

In conclusion, in his world-famous practical psychology book, How to Make Friends, Dale Carnegie gives 28 tips, and the 9th one is: “Encourage others to talk about themselves. 

It says, “To get a discussion started, you can ask simple questions. Find common ground and focus on the topic you both seem to know so well! You may lose your tongue. But don’t panic, because this gives you a golden opportunity to focus on what matters: THEM! It’s always good to let others talk about themselves, both to get to know them better and for the simple fact that people like to talk about themselves.”

So, if our learners couldn’t place one in the discussion and it turned into a monologue, they may have made one more friend, a French one at that! With the hope of fruitful exchanges… for the next discussion, of course!