Sunday, October 31, 2010

...des histoires pour s'endormir

As I've failed at attaining and improving French grammar through osmosis, I've decided to accept the inevitability of learning French grammar. So I'm back to doing some self-study and homework "by the book".

This week started out with a bit of grammar ("de") and I've delved a little deeper. What I've come up with is that uses and rules of "de" and "des" feel very innumerable to me at the moment and sometimes incomprehensible still.

I'd love to explain what I've learned but although I have embraced learning French grammar-I am also still looking for the fun and excitement in it. Anything I post now is going to put us to sleep. Unintenionally. I'll save then my introductions to my grammar guides, Mr. Brown and Mr. Picard for a rainy day and introduce you today instead to Belgian writer Carl Norac and French illustrator Thomas Baas. It's their intention to put you to sleep- fast.

Petites histoires pour les enfants qui s'endorment très vite is a charming book of bedtime stories whimsically illustrated by Thomas Baas. It's for kids who want to fall asleep quickly but this adult French learner was much too captivated by the expressive words and drawings to close my eyes, much less sleep.

Carl Norac is also a poet and you can hear that in the rythmn and rhyme of his bedtime stories or rather sentences. the longest stories are three sentence long! The beginning is always the same and contains "de" (we just can't get enough):

C'est l'histoire de ...

C'est l'histoire d'un baleineau...

C'est l'histoire d'un robot...

C'est l'histoire d'un mille-pattes...

C'est l'histoire d'une petite larme...

Petites histoires pour les enfants qui s'endorment très vite

Description by the publisher: éditions Sarbacane

La photo (m_ff) : I've never seen a fanciful chicken like this, not even in my dreams. I believe this chicken belongs to the breed known as "Polish" though they did not originate in Poland. The French name for this breed is "Padoue" after the Italian city "Padua". On the grounds of Avril Williams "Ocean Villas" Bed & Breakfast in Auchonvillers, France. Octubre 2010.

Monday, October 25, 2010

D is for "de"

My learning French is supposed to be fun so I avoided grammar as much as I could. I thought I could absorb the rules and intuitively construct sentences correctly through weekly conversations with my French teacher, listening to some podcasts, watching videos and movies and reading.

What I've learned in the past twelve weeks though is that there is only so much I can learn without learning grammar. And that turns out to be not enough. "Duh!"

In the spirit of "restarting with my French ABCs" - I continue the "recommencer" with a "grammatic" letter "D" or as it were "de".

"De" (pronounced duh) is a preposition with many uses. It usually means "of" or "from". In French an apostrophe is never used to indicate possession.

When "de" is followed by the articles le and les it contracts (unless le or les is a direct object - a subject for a future post) but it never contracts with la or l':

de (of, from) + le (the) = du (of the, from the)

de + les (the; plural) = des (of the, from the; plural)

Où es le bureau du commerçant?

Where is the office of the merchant?

Mme Picard est une amie des étudiants.

Mrs. Picard is a friend of the students.

Le salon de la maison est grand.

The living room of the house is large.

Il sait le nom de l'hotel.

He knows the name of the hotel.

-Sample sentences from the grammar notes of chapter five of "French Made Simple" revised edition by Julien LaFontant and Pamela Rose Haze; 2006 Edition The Stonesong Press, LLC

More grammar notes on

Practice (with audio) with Le Point du FLE

La photo: Seeing the Light (at the end of a tunnel of grammar?). Saint-Sébastien, Espagne. Mai 2009.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Photo Duet: Warped

That KK and Petit Foufou happen to have children featured in this week's "Warped" theme of is totally coincidental. KK chose her picture without seeing mine- and indeed, I took my picture earlier today without seeing hers.

Medieval Day Care - Octobre 2004 - Cathar Region, Languedoc

(Queribus castle ruin inserted into the background)

kk: Image portrays why my decision not to be a mother was a good one. This seems a great idea to me!

Quand je serai grande...

21 octobre 2010 - Nord-Pas-de-Calais

p_ff: This poster at a roadside bus stop catches my eye and I would see the poster again a few times in town. I have to wonder- is this poster really speaking to little girls playing with dolls?

"Quand je serai grande, j'allaiterai mon bébé" When I grow up, I will breast-feed my baby

déformé warped

se déformer literally to become warped

figuratively (mind, humour) tordu

(personality, sexuality) perverti

(account, judgement, view) faussé

-from oxford-hachette French Dictionary ©2005 Oxford University Press

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Photo Duet: Burgundy

Burgundy is a place, a wine and a color. For this week's Photofriday assignment, kk and I both go for bordeaux instead of the the place or wine: La Bourgogne and le bourgogne, respectively.

gauche - Pink to Burgundy

Dans un bureau de poste quelque part en le Lot, un département de la région Midi-Pyrénées. Mai, 2009 p_ff

droite - Mother and Child

Molded plastic chairs as seen in a shop window. Colmar, septembre 2010. kk

La Bourgogne (proper noun); en Bourgogne

Burgundy (region in France); in Burgundy

le bourgogne

Red wine from the French region of Burgundy

(le) bordeaux

refers to the color: a deep purplish red

noun (masc) and adjective

-via but actually an entry from the Concise Oxford-Hachette French Dictionary © 2005 Oxford University Press