105 internautes sur 106 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
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Okay. I'm going to give you the good news and the bad news about this book very briefly. Then, I will go into some details for those of you who are interested.
The good news is that this book is indeed useful for those attempting to master French beyond the second-year level. The words and expressions discussed occur frequently for the most part, and I believe that most of the comments about the words are correct. The majority of the examples are authentic and practical. All in all, this is a good book for anyone wishing to polish his or her already functional French.
The bad news is that this book is amateurish and sloppy. It is replete with careless errors both in English and in French. I will give a list below, but they are legion. When I first saw this book advertised in the French Review, I thought it might have been written by a retired French professor eager to provide future generations of students with some helpful hints. Nothing could be further from the truth. No French professor would have written such a poorly edited book.
Saul H. Rosenthal never explains his credentials in French. He mentions a daughter who is presumably a native speaker of French, but he doesn't talk about either a wife or his own educational background. I get the impression he is an American who has lived quite a bit of time in France, long enough to have picked up the lingo but not long enough to have mastered it. The book appears to be self-published and certainly self-edited. It is sad he did not seek out some serious help in preparing this book for publication.
Now, let me offer some details. I will put the page numbers in parentheses. Mr. Rosenthal is "apostrophe-challenged." Consider some of these mistakes. "It's literal translation" (23), "ones fingers" (48), "Dont I know" (50), "it's very nature" (70), "the speakers words" (96), "on ones guard" (115), "here are some examples of it's use" (213), "to attract someones attention" (256). The errors in punctuation are simply too numerous to mention.
What about the French, you say? Well, for those of you who know French well, take these examples. "Le nuit" (9), "huit heure" (17), "la réponse est arrivé" (17), "Il faut lui demandé" (36), "tu te soûle" (53), "je fait" (63), "t'en fait pas" (84), "les premiers trois axiomes" (113), "j'ai travaillais" (146), "de ce qu'elle à dit" (153), en vacance (157), "quel beau gateau" (168), "quelle mauvaise caractère" (169), "j'ai souvent eu besoin attendre plusieurs heures" (213), "je me fait beaucoup de soucis" (219). There are certain other infelicities. For example, the sentence "Fais attention à toi quand tu vas skier" (88) is translated as "Be careful of yourself when you go skiing." There are others as well.
Finally, I would question some of his comments about register. On page 224, for example, "zut!" should not be translated by "damn" or "hell" because it is not profanity in French. "Shoot," "darn," or "rats" are more accurate examples of the register. Likewise, on pages 64 and 241, "je m'en fiche" and "je m'en fous" are not in the same register. "Je m'en fiche" is more like "I don't give a hoot."
Occasionally, I might quibble with some of his renderings into English. For example, on page 252, "Je suis malade depuis huit jours" would be better translated "I have been sick for a week" than his "I have been sick for eight days."
Well, there you have it, the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly. I leave it to you to judge whether or not this is a worthy book to add to your library or to give to friends.
64 internautes sur 64 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
I'm emphatically not a French speaker (raised in British Columbia in the most monolingual of environments), so I need all the help I can get. Improving my French has been important to me as my wife is a French professor, and as we sometimes travel in French-speaking countries, but I still have a ways to go.
My wife suggested this book to help me with vernacular, spoken French. I am finding it to be a clear, entertaining, and pragmatic introduction to the idioms and natural repetitions of spoken French.
A significant amount of what is said in regular conversation repeats expressions that are used over and over again. These "key" expressions sometimes mean more than even the most careful grammatical breakdown will reveal. Attempting to decipher them while they are being delivered wears out a novice French speaker. I can vouch for that!
Learning those key words as a species unto themselves, expressions that routinely grease the wheels of speech, has given me a head start on comprehension. Whatever becomes immediately recognized saves my energy and attention for the more important content that may be unpredictable and complex. No more will I get stuck on "dont" or "dès que" while the cart of conversation keeps rolling -- memory willing, of course (but that's another subject and another book).
The sequence of the selected expressions is non-alphabetical. The result is unexpected and personal, sometimes with clear continuity comparing similar expressions, sometimes with fresh changes of subject, which keep you surprised and interested. The illustrating sentence-examples often imply whole, sometimes humorous, dramas behind the expressions being "illustrated" and put them in context, so you can understand how they are actually used.
These examples even have an indirect benefit. Without tedium, I am exposed to the verb forms that I can't bring myself to study -- the conditional and the subjunctive, for example. If I learn the verb form as part of a constantly used idiom, that idiom becomes my reference for the verb, instead of a bloodless, grueling, grammar declension. So too with word order and other parts of speech. This is the way a child learns, by picking up whole pieces and discovering that they can be inserted, repeated, and combined.
In addition, I am finding myself sensitized to the English idioms which are given as commentary and illustration. Seeing what we are prepared to accept as immediately meaningful in English encourages me to accept as fair and natural the inexplicable or odd constructions in French that I would otherwise resist (and even resent).
The content here would do well as a page-a-day calendar with a three-part page, French on top, English in the middle, and commentary at the bottom. With this design, each page could be used permanently as a flashcard, or the reader could make or print his own flashcards on business-card stock with the French on one side and the English on the other.
To me now, the idea of key words and expressions seems like an elemental concept. And for me, this elemental concept has found its vehicle in Rosenthal's book. In the English idiom, if something is a lock, it's a sure win. But the opposite, literal meaning is still there -- a lock on a door you want to open. For many of us, French has that other, unfortunate meaning. If for you French is a lock, Rosenthal has given you a key. Thanks to the author for a wonderful, independent contribution to passing through the language barrier!