Keepy-uppy en français
Updated: Jun 3, 2022
In my first post, I wrote that I allocate a day per week to each language to maintain and improve my fluency. Here's what I listened to, watched, read and did this week in French.
I listen to hours of podcasts every week - in the car, walking the dog, cooking, cleaning, gardening - it's a multitasker's dream! I use Spotify but I imagine they are also available on most platforms. This week's podcasts were:
RFI Revue de presse française – 3-4 minute daily roundup of French press. This tends to be a staple; I listen to the whole weeks’ worth on Mondays.
France Culture Grand reportage – the variety and quality of these 1-hour reports is first-rate. They range from inspiring to harrowing – truly outstanding journalism! This week's was:
'Guatemala : un géant minier aux secrets bien gardés’ (57 mins) – saddening report about how nickel mining practices are affecting the indigenous communities in the El Estor region. Fascinating insight into the risks that reporters take to uncover the crime and corruption underlying this industry.
Song/Artist of the Week
Music seems to be an effortless way of absorbing language and technology grants us access to everything ever recorded, it seems. No more going to the record shop and asking the monosyllabic teenager behind the counter if he would deign to play a song from an album so you could decide whether to buy it... My song of the week is:
Un dernier blues, by Patricia Kaas – the first time I heard this French singer’s voice was in 1988, when I moved to Switzerland, and I was hooked instantly! This short, melancholic song showcases her contralto, sultry voice and brings me close to tears! You can listen to it here with lyrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19XRGlQcSGY.
I love watching TV but these days it has to compete with so much, I very rarely get to see a whole episode or film in one go... Currently I'm following:
Twice Upon a Time/Il était une seconde fois – Netflix series about a guy who tries to win back his girlfriend, but with a time-travelling twist.
No matter how hard I try, reading seems to get relegated to a hurried 15 minutes in bed before my eyelids clamp shut. Must try to get to bed earlier and read more... The French book of the moment is:
Les Crimes de l’Amour, by (Marquis de) Sade – This is not an easy read, not just in terms of style and register, but also subject, which might not be to everyone’s taste. Nonetheless, I’m persisting, hoping to extend my vocabulary and explore the repertoire of this famed French author. I chose my Word of the Week from this book - see below.
A quick scan of the daily news in French and perhaps a more in-depth read of a couple of articles of particular interest is all I dedicate to this. My preferences are:
Working out, language exchange, e-learning, all things French...
Since even before the pandemic, I have tried to implement regular movement throughout the day, not just a frantic burst of cardio and then sitting for the rest of my waking hours. I make full use of the free content on YouTube and aim to do a daily 7-10 minute HIIT-style or calisthenics workout, followed by a 20-30 minute yoga session.
- Tibo InShape Entrainement – 7 minute fat burning morning routine you can do every day. The usual stuff to get your heart pumping and muscles jumping, but it’s just 7 minutes!
- Yoga Systema – 20 minutes de yoga par jour. Quickie that stretches, twists and strengthens.
I'm very lucky to have a French mum, whom I speak to daily in French. For my other languages, I'm not so fortunate and so I have found language exchange partners through the MyLanguageExchange platform (https://mylanguageexchange.com/). More about this in my Spanish, Italian and German posts.
All things language
As a total lingo nerd, I can often be found researching words, their origin and use, idioms and other linguistic peculiarities. So I thought I'd add an extra feature to the post:
Word of the week
There are quite a few words (understatement) I don’t know in Sade’s Les crimes de l’amour, but in the few pages I managed to wade through last thing on Monday, this word stood out as totally unrecognisable. According to the Larousse, other than being a variation of the name Catherine, its literary meaning is ‘prostituée’ (https://www.larousse.fr/dictionnaires/francais/catin/13816). Further delving revealed the name originated from the ecclesiastical Greek katharos, meaning 'pure'. The affectionate diminutive of Catherine, Catin, is documented as early as the 16th century. Intriguing how its meaning evolved from purity to prostitute… https://www.lemonde.fr/blog/correcteurs/2005/11/28/2005_11_catin/.
Just for fun, I looked up the many English synonyms and found a plethora of options, several I’d never heard of: broad, call girl, camp follower, courtesan, doxy, fallen woman, femme fatale, floozy, harlot, hooker, hussy, jade, Jezebel, lady of pleasure, lady of the night, loose woman, minx, pro, prostitute, scarlet, scarlet woman, slut, streetwalker, strumpet, tart, tramp, trollop, vamp, wench, whore, working girl.
And in French: call-girl, fille, fille de joie, fille publique. Familier : gourgandine. Littéraire : catin, courtisane, femme galante, fille galante, fille perdue, hétaïre, péripatéticienne, respectueuse. Populaire : belle-de-nuit, grue, morue, poule, putain, pute. Vieux : cocotte, dame de petite vertu, demi-mondaine, fille des rues, fille soumise.
Ah, the richness of language never fails to delight! I won't start on any sexism themes here, but I wonder how many similar derogatory terms there are for men... perhaps that'll be in the next post!
I'm always on the lookout for new content and ways to use French, so please share any activities you're doing...