French (was Re: Re: Optimum number of symbols)
|Date:||Friday, May 24, 2002, 18:49|
> > True, true. English speakers can still refer to ships as she after
> > all,
> > which always amused me.
> > Grammatical gender itself doesn't bug me, it adds variety. French
> > gender
> > doesn't seem to be COMPLETLEY arbitrary or unintelligible or anything.
> > Personally, I just don't understand why verbs need to agree in
> > gender...
> > that's just an odd concept to me.
> Verbs agreeing in gender? Sorry but that's not the case. What you'retalking
> about is past participles. Well, they are *adjectives*. A form "être+past
> participle", whether it has passive sense or not, is identical in form
> as "être+ adjective", and past participles are adjectives. So if theadjective
> agrees in gender and number with the subject in this case, it's onlynormal
> that the past participle does the same. Morphologically, there is nodifference.
Ergh, yeah. I know they're adjectives, or at least behave like them, but I
have a hard time thinknig about them like that.
I think everyone would have a lot easier time learning languages if their
first language were taught to them with more sense. I think the way English
teachers teach English is really lazy, which is why half the time nobody
knows the difference between 'who' and 'whom', even though you could explain
it really easily...and so forth. Nobody's ever explicitly explained that
past participles, or forms of verbs, behave like adjectives, which is why I
call them verbs, even though I know they're adjectives. Even in my AP
English class we only discussed gerunds and subject/direct object/indirect
object for about a week before everyone complained that we were doing too
Damn it, I love grammar!
So I doubt many people in my class would be able to grasp the concept of
past participle as adjective in any way, without some major explanation.
> The only complication comes with past participles used with the verb"avoir".
> The agree in gender and number with the *object*, if this one appears in
> *front* of the verb (most often as a relative pronoun). It sounds a bit
> strange, doesn't it? Well, a way to remember that might be to considerthat
> when the object is in front of the verb, we nearly have a passiveconstruction,
> and the agreement is triggered. It's not a good way to explain thephenomenon,
> but a good way to remember it (as long as it doesn't make you makemistakes
> with the verb itself :)) ).
Whoa, really? Our teacher's taught it as 'you do't have to do anything to
the past participle with 'avoir.''
Can you give me an example? I'm following what you're saying, but having
trouble visualizing it. :)
Oh wait, here's an example. Yay, writing e-mail with lots of responses is
Julien Eychenne wrote:
> 2.a. Marie, sa réponse, elle me l'a pas encore donnée. ('Mary, her
> answer, she has not yet given it to me ').
> 2.b. *Marie, sa réponse, m'a pas encore donnée. ('Mary, her answer, has
> not yet given to me').
> But (3) is correct (at least for me):
> 3. Sa réponse, Marie, elle me l'a pas donnée. ('Her answer, Mary, she
> has not yet given it to me').
In our class, my teacher has taught is to write it (pardon me for
simplifying the sentence ;)
'Marie ne l'a pas donné,' or 'Marie ne les a pas donné,' and not to worry
about gender agreement.
So the etre business was completely out of nowhere to us and it never would
have occured to us to put an -s on the end of things.
> I find this way of teaching quite strange. Why didn't he simply say thatpast
> participles were adjectives? It would have explained the full behaviour ofpast
> participles, except the bit about agreement with a preceeding object. Andit
> would make things a bit more understandable...
Exactly-- but teachers of ANY language at my school basically teach it as,
'this is just the way it is.'
I'd probably have a lot more trouble with it if I couldn't figure it out by
And our book is almost exclusively excersizes.
Roger Mills wrote:
> All praise to Spanish, which lost that particular bit of oddness.
Huzzah for Spanish! The more I hear about Spanish, the happier I am to be
taking it next year, after the pronunciation nightmare of french (no offense
meant to our French speakers... but I am sure my poor teacher is getting a
lot more flak than he deserves :))
> Well, you would have a hard time with our feminists then. They are on acrusade
> for the feminisation of ALL nouns of professions. They argue that if anoun of
> profession doesn't make the gender distinction, it implies that theprofession
> is reserved to just one sex, which is sexist. Thus they want feminineforms to
> be adopted for all nouns of profession (even those who at first didn'thave
> one, like "maire" or "ministre". So we've seen things like "la mairesse"
> and "la ministre" appear). Not everybody agrees with their view, but Ithink
> they have a point. Another possibility would be to just scrap all gender
> distinctions in French, but gender is too far rooted in the French grammarto
> make that possible. So basically, those gender distinctions are supportedand
> even proposed by our feminists :)) .
Yeah, I have a feeling they would be by English feminists too. I'm not
really a femenist, though--I dislike the idea of gender distinction at all.
I'm more for gender equality, where the gender of the subject is irrelevant
to the conversation, and does not need to be specified, implied, or even
thought of at all. It should, imho, make no difference if I'm male or female
and speaking about something, which is why I'm somewhat lazy with it in
French, in that I always use the male version of things when writing in
first person (except for class, because our teacher marks it off, grr.)
I don't think a lot of people have THAT stance, though there are extensive
discussions about creating third-person gender neutral pronouns for english,
like xe/xir, hey/hem/heir, and so forth.
> That's not true. I find the French spelling difficult because when youhear a
> word you cannot know for sure its spelling from its pronunciation, but onthe
> other way round, the spelling points out to the correct pronunciation morethan
> 98% of the time. What you find confusing is that it uses other rules thanthe
> English spelling, that's all.
This is true. I was being facetious. I apologize for my coimplete lack of
TBH, I don't have a problem with the spelling, so much as the fact that I
can't puzzle out pronunciation, because my teacher has really unexpected
pronunciation, so even with the knowledge I have I'm usually wrong.
> What? You were not told the pronunciation of 'oe'? Your teacher isincompetent
> or what?! 'oe' and 'eu' are basically pronounced the same way, except inGreek
> loanwords where 'oe' can (but doesn't need to) be pronounced like 'é'.
> Personally, I *always* pronounced my 'oe's like 'eu's, so you can playsafe and
> do it like that :)) .
> I'm under the impression that the difficulties you come through inlearning
> French come more from a wrong teaching approach than from inherentdifficulties
> of the French language...
Yes, thank you! No, he never even mentioned it, though I hear he marks it
wrong if you don't write the oe connected. /shrug
I'm not having a lot of trouble in learning to write it, in that I'm doing
as well as can be expected from what we'rebeing taught, though I obviously
can't competently discuss the mechanics or what have you.
And actually, my teacher is Spanish, speaks Spanish, Greek, Latin, French
and I think something else...
So I am probably learning French with a Spanish accent, which may explain my
frustration with the spelling, because I can find neither rhymre nor reason
to his pronunciation.
But it IS first year, and he's probably just given up. Most of the people
who don't make an effort are probably just taking it for credits (bc I think
there's ar equirement for the freshman this year that you need to take two,
recc. three years of a language? Most people take Spanish for that [I live
in california] but a lot of the mexican kids are fluent in Spanish so they
can't take it.)
I don't know. It certainly is frustrating though. I don't have anyone to
practice with either. When I try my friends make fun of my pronunciation, :(
My friend Jeff (I can't get him to join this list because he never comes
online :p) has much better pronunciation than I do, because he is the TA for
another french teacher, one who probably has a more regular French accent.
http://www.refrigeratedcake.com/other/theatre -- Vade Mecum (comic)