Friday, April 21, 2006
Jeu de memoire
There's no neutral territory for nouns in French- it's either his or hers:
un homme a man
un chat a cat
un sandwich a sandwich
une femme a woman
une chatte a cat
une salade a salad
And, no surprise, there are rules for determining the gender:
his endings: -ment, -phone, -scope, -teur, -age
her endings: -tion / -sion, -té, -ure, -ette, -ence /-ance
and so on . . .
Establish friendly relations with your grammar book and you will be richly rewarded but will learn quickly enough it's a lot of la exception and la frustration.
Feminine, masculine- whatever! Sure you'll get unintended laughs if you say une homme but it's clear that you're talking about a man. Le serveur knows whether you've ordered a sandwich or a salade whether or not you use une or un correctly. Easy enough. You smile with relief- no memorizing for you. Merci!
La merci? Le Merci? You look it up and guess what?! The memory game has just begun. Le Merci means "thank you", la merci means "mercy" One noun, two genders, two meanings. And that list goes on... sans merci.
le serveur = waiter
la serveuse = waitress
sans merci = without mercy or without thanks? :-)
La photo: Charles V Palace, detail of the west portal L'Alhambra de Grenade, en Espagne, en janvier 2006