mardi 28 octobre 2014

French reading practice - French expats

French expats living abroad... Reverse culture shock (Le choc culturel inversé)

Just stumbled upon this article... it's a news article so upper intermediate level I guess. It's quite long so it's good French reading practice and the article is interesting too. Even though I'm not a French expat I'm still an expat so I could relate to most things said.

This part I could relate to a lot, because this is not the first time I'm an expat.

Le choc culturel inversé est un phénomène réel qui touche à différents degrés tous ceux qui ont fait l’expérience de l’expatriation, même courte. Quand on s’intègre dans un nouveau pays, quand on apprend une nouvelle langue, de nouvelles pratiques culturelles, on se bouscule soi-même dans ses convictions. Souvent difficile, la réussite d’une intégration à l’étranger est aussi une grande source de fierté, un accomplissement personnel très valorisant dont on se sent pleinement acteur. Ainsi, revenir au pays peut parfois constituer une plus grande épreuve que de le quitter. C’est la fin d’une aventure, d’une période de découverte permanente, le retour à des conventions inébranlables que rien ne saurait bousculer, encore moins les récits de ceux qui reviennent. On se sent redevenir impuissant, parfois “noyé dans la masse”, et surtout on réalise que les choses n’ont pas changé en notre absence. En revanche, le regard porté sur le pays, lui, a changé. Difficile désormais de jouer le jeu de la normalité sans broncher et de ne laisser filtrer de son pays que le positif quand on a de quoi le comparer.

Reverse culture shock is a real phenomenon that affects all those - to varying degrees - who have had the experience of expatriation, even short ones. When one is part of a new country, learning a new language, new culture, they shove themselves in their convictions. Often difficult, a successful integration abroad is also a great source of pride, a very rewarding personal achievement where one feels like they are the main actor. Thus, returning home can sometimes be a greater test than leaving. It's the end of an adventure, a period of constant discovery, returning to unshakable conventions that nothing can shake, let alone the stories of those who return. You feel powerless sometimes "drowning in the masses" and you especially realize that things have not changed in your absence. In contrast, your outlook on the country he has changed. It's difficult now to play the game of normality without flinching and to see your country through a positive filter when we compare it with what we had before.

La plupart des expatriés qui sont revenus parlent de délais d’un à deux ans pour retrouver leurs marques et réfléchir à leur reconversion qui sera bien souvent nécessaire. 
Most expatriates who have returned speak of periods of one to two years to find their way and to think about the conversion that will often be necessary.

lundi 27 octobre 2014

How many cheek kisses should you do in France when greeting someone?

How many cheek kisses (bises/bisous) should you do in France when greeting someone?

For all the info, check it it out on

It's one of those really confusing things when one first arrives in France (or any French speaking country) but soon you get used to it I guess. Like some of the commenters I agree, I really miss hugs! I'm just like Olaf (from the Disney film 'Frozen'). "I like warm hugs!"

For me, I don't mind doing the cheek kiss thing (bise/bisous) when greeting someone but what gets really tiring is when leaving... when you have multiple to kiss multiple times on the cheek it gets really time consuming! Many times I just want to get out of there (party/event/dinner/gathering) with a verbal 'goodbye' and a wave, especially if I don't know those people that well.

mercredi 22 octobre 2014

The Hundred Foot Journey / Les Recettes du bonheur - film review

The Hundred Foot Journey / Les Recettes du bonheur - film review

"Love is the spice of life"

NB: There may be light spoilers in this review, so you don't like spoilers please don't read on.. Just go see it! Trust me, it's that good :)

imdb - The Hundred Foot Journey - Les recettes du bonheur
wikipedia - Long plot description

This film has been out for some time now... I meant to watch it a while ago but kind of forgot. So last night I finally decided to see it since it's on its last days to be screened.

I don't like to know too much about films before I see them. I've even stopped watching trailers and reading any sort of review. I only read the blurb and see what it's rated on imdb. If it's rated 7 or higher it's more than likely to be good (and this was rated 7.5 at the time of me writing this post).

So the blurb said, "The Kadam family leaves India for France where they open a restaurant directly across the road from Madame Mallory's Michelin-starred eatery." 

That description was enough to entice my eyes AND my tastebuds! hehe. I love Indian food, I love French food, heck I love almost any sort of food if it's well done and tasty, beautifully presented and made with love.

The film is directed by Lasse Hallström of Chocolat fame. I didn't know who he was till afterwards when I read more about him. When I think about it, there are quite a number of similarities between this film and Chocolat, namely strangers arriving in a small French town, outcasted, but eventually become integrated and welcomed by the locals. I guess that maybe Lasse has a soft spot for films featuring delicious cooking and food imagery and for quaint little French villages.

The film is interestingly produced by Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey (something I didn't know until I read the credits during the end of the film) and Juliet Blake (who is a content producer for TED talks and approached the other two about making this film).

The story is based on a book by Richard C. Morais and was featured in Oprah's bookclub. in 2010

Helen Mirren stars as Madame Mallory, the owner of a 1 star Michelin restaurant, Le Saule Pleureur (The Weeping Willow) who is dying to get her second star. Although she is excellent in this film I can't help but wish they'd chosen a French actress as I can definitely hear her English accent when she speaks French (although I'm sure most English speaking viewers don't care and can't tell the difference). Like Chocolat, it is also odd that everyone in the town speaks fluent English but meh, it's a Hollywood film and I guess they didn't want to make it a foreign film and subject viewers to reading too many subtitles.

Due to a variety of unfortunate circumstances (which I won't go into as you'll see them all in the beginning of the film), the Kadam family ("Papa" (played by the acclaimed actor Om Puri) and his 5 children ranging in age from about 6 to late teens?) end up in this tiny idyllic town, Saint Antonin Noble Val (which is a real place and the film was actually filmed there). It is located about 100km north of Toulouse. It is a 900-1000 year old medieval town with a population of about 2000 (wikipedia).

 I don't know what is more beautiful. The scenes of the village, or the scenes of the food. Both are equally impressive and beautiful but the food and cooking scenes are just exquisite and mouthwatering. If you love food or films featuring food, this is one reason alone to watch this film!

I became fascinated by cooking in general as well as French cooking a few years ago when I started watching Masterchef (blogpost here). And this movie just made me want to go out and cook as well as eat!

So Papa, with his entrepreneurial vision, sets out to buy the restaurant that is now closed and for sale, since the owners moved to Paris. They could not compete with Madame Mallory. He intends to turn the former French restaurant into "Maison Mumbai", introducing French people to the wonders of Indian home-style cooking. Of course Madame Mallory doesn't like this one little bit and sets out to start a 'war'. What ensues is a hilarious battle of securing the best ingredients and showing off the best cooking skills in order to acquire new and more customers.

The plot is not just about the war before the two elders though, there is also another major plotline. Here, we are introduced to relative newcomer and a shining star, Indian American Manish Dayal, who plays the second eldest son Hassan. He discovered old French cookbooks in the former restaurant and sets out not only to improve his Indian cooking skills, but to learn the fine art of traditional French cooking. As well as that, he meets a beautiful young chef named Marguerite (played by Canadian Charlotte Le Bon), who happens to work in Le Saule Pleureur and whom he happened to meet during that first (un)fortunate car accident when the family first arrived in town.

So you can guess what happens as it is a Hollywood film and therefore quite predictable in parts and I predicated many things in the film. However, there were also many unpredictable parts and twists which was nice. I don't want to say too much more without giving it all away.

The other 4 kids don't feature widely in the film and basically have no storyline but I imagine that they will also be up and coming stars.

I spelt the first half laughing my head off or having a big cheesy grin on my face. It was just so funny and feelgood. I related to many themes in the film such as being a stranger in a strange land, culture shock and differences, missing family/home... In some of those scenes where those themes are brought up (particularly towards the end) I almost felt a tear come to my eye. I could relate to the lead character Hassan a lot. Everything seems to have a trade off in life and you have to make the best choice for YOU, and do what makes you happy. If I could take away anything from this film that as the message I got. That, and family and food are the most important things. And food is memories. Family memories. And indeed, even before seeing this film, family and food are always the top two things I miss most while I'm living in Europe. I got goosebumps many times during several scenes of the film.

So I haven't talked a lot about the plot but I hope I've given you enough information and incentive to see this film. As it's probably not out in the cinemas anymore where you live, please go check it out once it's released on DVD.

It's just such a beautiful and heartwarming film. I will watch it again and again! :)

I enjoyed the film a LOT. SO much that I would rate it 10/10. I know that's a big score but that's how I felt. I can't wait to read the book too now!


On another note about the music, the soundtrack (played during the credits) is composed by A. R. Rahman, of Slumdog Millionaire fame. My favourite is 'My mind is a stranger without you'  (at 45:57) - a beautiful bilingual song in both French and Hindi (I think?)


On a linguistic note, most English film titles are always kind of cryptic and allow you to use your imagination where as in other languages the title is far more literal.

The English title is The Hundred-Foot Journey (Foot as in distance). I didn't really think about the title and how it fitted to the film till I arrived home but the more I thought about it the more it made sense and the more I liked the title!
The French title is Les Recettes du bonheur (The recipes of happiness) - which describes the film more aptly, I guess
The German title is Madame Mallory und der Duft von Curry (Madame Mallory and the smell of curry) - kind of funny when you think about it! There's no way they'd name it that in English.
The Spanish title is Un viaje de diez metros (A journey of ten metres)
The Italian title is Amore, cucina e curry (Love, cooking and curry)
The Portuguese title is A viagem dos cem passos (The journey of a hundred steps)
The French Canadian title is Le voyage de cent pas (The journey of a hundred steps)
The Swedish title is 100 steg från Bombay till Paris (A hundred steps from Mumbai to Paris)
The Chinese Mandarin (China) title is 米其林情缘 (Michelin destiny)
The Chinese Mandarin (Taiwan) title is 美味不設限 (There are no limits to delicious flavours)

The Chinese Cantonese (Hong Kong) title is 米芝蓮摘星奇緣 (Michelin stardom destiny)

The Japanese title is マダム・マロリーと魔法のスパイス (Madame Mallory and the magical spices)
The Korean title is 로맨틱 레시피 (Romantic recipe)
The Russian title is Пряности и страсти (Spices and passion)
The Hebrew title is מסע של מאה צעדים (A journey of a hundred paces)
The Arabic title is رحلة المائة قدم (A journey of a hundred feet)
(list of some more foreign titles here)


Pre-order the DVD (due out December 2 in the US)


English film trailer

 French film trailer - Les recettes du bonheur Bande Annonce Version Française

dimanche 5 octobre 2014

NORMAN fait des videos - French videos on YouTube

I was introduced to Norman's channel by a French friend. He's very entertaining, funny and talented and it's great French listening practice.

He has one of the most popular Youtube channels in France, with over 5 million subscribers.

Check out his YT channel here :)

and here is his most recent video « 10 choses que les femmes font mieux que les hommes » ("10 things that women do better than men")

mercredi 1 octobre 2014

France cuts family and childcare benefits


Interesting topic! France is well known in Europe for having a 'high' fertility rate of at least 2 kids per couple, compared to only 1 point something for every other European country (except Ireland)...


France’s healthy birth rate – the second highest in Europe after Ireland’s – has long been attributed to pro-fertility policies such as free post-natal care, subsidized daycare, allowances for each child born (prime de naissance) and discounts on a range of services for large families.
So the alarm bells were ringing even louder this week in the aftermath of an announcement by the government that it intends to reduce key family welfare benefits in a bid to save €700 million.Under the plans, parental leave will be cut, help in paying for childcare will be reduced for the more well-off, as will the famous "prime de naissance".
Critics have slammed the government for measures they claim will only act to dissuade couples from having children.
“Of course these measures will affect the birth rate. If the state doesn't offer help it's clear that poorer families won’t be able to afford childcare, which will put them off having children,” Thierry Vidor, from the organization Familles de France told The Local.
“This government is taking us back to the nineteenth century,” he added.

mardi 30 septembre 2014

Top 10 countries with best quality tap water

Over the years I've noticed a snobbery factor with drinking/not drinking tap water. People think it's bad, or low quality, or unclean or whatever but it's not! I was brought up to drink tap water only if it's boiled or filtered but I'm like 'screw that'. I've been drinking tap water since my teens...

In all Anglo and Western European countries the water is PERFECTLY SAFE to drink. So you don't need to waste money by buying bottled water... unless you really want to of course.

So, without further ado, here is the list! All in Europe, except New Zealand. I'm curious where Australia is on the list...

1. Switzerland
2. Norway
3. Luxemburg
4. France
5. Austria
6. Italy
7. UK
8. Sweden
9. Germany
10. New Zealand

Because I'm all for ecological and environmental sustainability here are a few infographics I've found on the subject:

One thing I have noticed about tap water in (Western) Europe though (vs tap water in Australia) is that it has a high calcium content. Annoyingly, you get white deposits around the opening of your tap, and inside your kettle. I've heard that this is not so good for washing your hair though :( but I'm not rich enough to take a shower and wash my hair with bottled water.. LOL!

PS I DON'T recommend you drink tap water in most other countries though.

dimanche 7 septembre 2014

What English sounds like to foreigners

Just came across this... it's quite amusing!

What English sounds like to foreigners,  by Italian Adriano Celentano

vendredi 22 août 2014

RIP 43things website

I guess all good things have come to an end... :`(

I just logged in to 43 things (which I haven't done so for a few months) and was surprised to find this message. I have this website to thank for so many goals I have achieved over the past 5 (!) years. I shocked myself time and time again when I would review the site every 3-6 months and discovered that I had achieved goals I'd written in there, goals which at that time I didn't think were achievable (at least, not in the short time frame I wanted).

I'm really sad but have to look for another alternative now.

Any ideas?

Did any of you ever use this site?

mardi 19 août 2014

Bilingualism fights dementia and improves brain function

There are LOTS of articles like this online, this is by no means the best one but it is just one example of how learning multiple languages strengthens brain functions and cognitive thinking skills and fights off alzheimers and dementia..

Article here

mercredi 23 juillet 2014

University and higher education courses in France : CampusFrance

I don't know about other countries since I've never searched extensively within those, but I feel that France has a HUGE number of universities and tertiary education institutions, and courses. Even the tiniest little towns in the middle of nowhere with tiny populations seem to have unis or 'écoles'.(schools). I'm guessing this is because of the historical significance of higher education in France... Anyway if you are looking to study in France here are some useful links for you to find the course of your dreams.

I find that the site has a wealth of information but it's structured very badly so it can be hard to find the information you need. I hope my list makes it easier for you.

Whole list

Bachelor (Licence) courses
Masters courses
Doctoral courses

Courses taught in English - Note that for having the privilege of a course taught in English you'll most likely have to pay high fees, something like 6000-10,000 euros. Business/MBA and artistic/creative courses are also very expensive. Only normal or 'common' courses are inexpensive (few hundred euros).

Artistic/creative courses (from homepage CampusArt)

Grants/scholarships (bourses) to study in France (CampusBourses)

It's important to check
* cut off date for applications (apply well in advance)
* pre-requisites, need Bachelors or Masters degree already? age requirements (many courses seem to have age cut-offs which is ageist but anyway..., need special skills or work experience? need a portfolio/showreel/ etc?)
* fees (tarifs) Unfortunately not all sites show this! Generally if they don't show it, I just assume it's expensive, in the vicinity of close to 10,000 euros.
* visa requirements if you are not EU European.

This site (Lyon Campus) has some useful information.

Most students finances come from a variety of sources : personal savings, parental or state help, a job… 
Your student status will entitle you to reductions on transport, leisure activites… However, be careful to plan your budget for being in France in as much detail as possible. You will need at least 600 euros a month to live decently and possibly 800 euros the first month to meet the expense of settling in.  
Reminder : you will need a minimum of 430 euros monthly revenue in order to obtain a resident’s permit !  
An idea of the cost of living in Lyon
  • Accommodation : 350 to 600 euros a month for a studio or a one-roomed flat, known as a T1 
  • Monthly electricity, gas and telephone bill : 60 euros on average 
  • City transport : 11.90 euros for a book of 10 tickets valid on the bus, tram and metro (or monthly subscription 25 euros) 
  • High speed inter-city train from Lyon to Paris : 60 euros if you have a 12-25 card, which also costs 49 euros a year, 120 euros if you have no card. You can buy ‘Prem’s’ tickets on internet. These are very cheap, but it is a good idea to plan your trip three months in advance. 
  • Food : about 200 euros a month 
  • A meal at one of the university restaurants : 2.90 euros 
  • A meal at a pizzeria (with desert, but no drink) : 15 euros 
  • A 250 g stick of French bread : 0.80 euros on average 
  • A ticket for the cinema : 6 or7 euros on average, student price 
  • Ticket for a show : 4 euros with the Culture Pass (Pass Culture)  
France is different from other countries in that it gives considerable indirect financial help to each student by assuming practically the whole cost of higher education in public institutions, both for French students and foreigners. The real cost of higher education is around 6000 euros per student, per year, on average. 

Having a job at the same time as being a student 
In France there is a minimum legal wage, known as the SMIC (Salaire minimum interprofessionnel de croissance). The gross hourly wage is 8.71 €, that is before obligatory social contributions have been taken off (around 20% per hour). You should not be paid less than this ! 
  • The fact that you have a student resident’s card or a long stay student visa entitles you to have a paid job, without asking for special permission. 
  • However, your job must not exceed 964 hours a year. The prefecture can withdraw a student’s resident card if this limit is not respected. 
  • A foreign student can only be hired after the employer has registered his or her name at the prefecture that issued the resident’s card, or for a foreign student holding a long stay visa, at the prefecture of the place where he or she lives. This formality must be done at least 2 days before starting the job. 
  • Registration includes a copy of the student’s resident’s card or long-stay visa. The nature of the job, length of contract, number of hours to be worked annually and starting date should be stated. 
  • You must obtain permission to work if you wish to have a paid job during your studies. 
  • An application form must be sent in to the DDTEFP. This must include a job contract or promise of a job. 
  • Permission is limited to 50% of the yearly work quota 

Happy researching! :)

mardi 15 juillet 2014

French: To vous or to tu?

You might have seen this chart already, it's from the LA Times. Somebody made this useful (and funny) flowchart to help you figure out whether to 'tu' or to 'vous' someone.

I usually wait for the other person to see what they call me and I use the same word back. If they don't use either as it hasn't come up in the conversation yet, I would tend to use 'vous' UNLESS we are of a similar age or they are younger than me. I've met people younger than me who wanted to 'vous' me and I asked them to 'tu' me and they still 'vous'ed me!  I dunno... for me it's kind of like being called Madame instead of Mademoiselle. It makes me feel old!

I had also read that online, people tend to 'tu' each other.

Another interesting thing to do is to watch French films and see whether the characters use vous or tu depending on their relationship with each other.

tutoyer - the act of calling the other person 'tu' (informal 'you')
vousvoyer - the act of calling the other person 'vous' (formal 'you')
tutoiement / vouvoiement - the manner of addressing the ther person

Have fun! ;)

dimanche 13 juillet 2014

Are the French afraid to be single?

I was thinking back to all the French friends I made while I was studying French. Some of them were single at the time but most of them were living with their partner.

And now, nearly all of them are married or they have kids (but are not married).

But I get the feeling that:

  1. Many French people are afraid to be single. It's not 'cool' to be single. They would rather be in a bad relationship than none at all.
  2. They don't really value marriage but like to live in a marriage-type situation (PACSé) and have kids (after they have been together a number of years). 
It's true that the birth rate in France is one of the highest in Europe (link)

But I don't think it's just a French thing. I think it's a very European thing to co-habitate from a young age (early 20s) and then live with that person for like 10+ years then eventually think about getting married and/or having kids.  Breaking up seems to be out of the question!

I feel like it's the same for platonic friendships. People just keep the same friends they've always had and aren't really open to the idea of making new ones once they are in their late 20s or 30s.

I also feel that it's kind of similar to religious or 'ethnic' people of certain cultures, where there is this unspoken rule that the first or second person you ever fall in love with, you just have to stick with them for life, no matter what. Now I'm not saying that French people don't get divorced, I'm sure they do... but I was just talking about being in your 20s where it's acceptable to 'try' a number of different partners, I really feel that many French people would rather die than breakup and be single (feel free to prove me wrong! ;) )

No real point to this blogpost, but just some thoughts that were running around in my head...

BTW watch this video.

dimanche 18 mai 2014

Language learning websites, friends and expats

I can't believe how long it's been that I started on this French journey, not only learning the language but actually moving to the country... I can't believe how far I've come intellectually, emotionally and spiritually...

I also can't believe the friends I've made through the language learning websites I used. and even though we are not close anymore (and I don't use those sites anymore) we still keep in touch and it's amazing how much people's lives have changed in just a few short years.

Something I think about all the time is if and when I'll return home. I know that I will but it's just a matter of when. But time and time again, I hear the same things from my French and other European friends who moved to Australia. They love it there but it's just too far from home... And I have basically the same and opposite experience too.

I decided to write this post because a friend of mine that I met on a language learning site (Live Mocha) way back in 2009 has been living in Australia the past couple of years (doing the opposite of what I'm doing) and finally decided to move back home this year. I had another French friend (that I met in another country) who also did the same thing a year ago, after expating through various countries he ended up in Australia, and decided to go back to France. I just keep hearing the same thing over and over again. Everybody loves Australia but they can't deal with being so far away from family and friends :(

I think it has a lot to do with age, too. When you are in your 20s or early 30s you are still pretty free and 'wild' but then from your mid 30s on something just kicks in and you start thinking about your ageing parents and if, when (and WHERE in the case of expats) you are going to have kids... It's something quite stressful for me to think about, to be honest. Because I've lived in a few different countries now I know that no matter where I live I'll always miss other countries/continents hugely, and of course when I'm away from home (Australia) like now I always miss home a lot.

There are a lot of great experiences I've had, but as with all expats, there are sacrifices to be made too, unfortunately.

For those of you thinking of moving overseas I would highly recommend it but at the same time just know that it's nothing like in the movies, and it's nothing like travelling. Real life is hard no matter where you are, but even moreso in a foreign (non English speaking) country. And it's super hard when you are going from Australia to Europe or vice versa. If you (like most Europeans) are going from one European country to another you can still visit your family easily and often and there isn't a huge culture difference within western continental Europe. But with Australia it's really a whole new world.. something I'm forever having to explain to my European friends who've never lived outside the continent. Even those in the US don't have it as hard even though the US is also far. Australia has a 9 or 10 hour time difference to Europe, and we have opposite seasons, and we drive on the left hand side of the world, and we have a totally different electrical plug, and... and... ;P Flights are hideously expensive but even if you had the money you need to have a decent amount of leave to be able to go between the 2 continents otherwise it's just not worth it with a 20-30 hour flight each way. You need (in my experience) at least 3 days just to get over the jetlag when you fly to Australia. Luckily going to Europe I only need 1-2 days.

Despite every hard thing I've gone through though, I would not give it up for the world. :)

(image from here)

jeudi 15 mai 2014

Most common languages spoken in the US after English

You might have seen this article already, it originated on Slate.

Ben Blatt has created a cool series of maps showing what second languages are spoken in the various states of the USA.

Check out the whole article here. I originally read it on Gizmodo, and if you go to that page and read the comments it's quite interesting... many people debating about how common German really is in the US. I, for one, had no idea it was that common. I also had no idea that Tagalog was so common in California...

And so, here are the maps (there are more on the site).

Second most commonly spoken language in the USA after English, by state

Third most commonly spoken language in the USA other than English or Spanish, by state

mardi 13 mai 2014

The Great Language Quiz

Note this is not a test on any one particular language or how well you know the vocabulary, but a test on how well you can distinguish between languages or family of languages...

Language Quiz 1

I scored 8/14. Eesh.

Then I did a better and longer test and scored 250. However, I think I got very difficult one as the second time I did it I scored 650.

The Great Language Game

Have fun! :)

jeudi 1 mai 2014

The most popular French boys and girls baby names over the last 55 years

The most popular French boys and girls baby names (by region) from 1946 to 2011.

This is really interesting.

Created by it's an interactive graphic that shows the most popular French boys and girls baby names in each région since 1946. Click here for the link.

This is really accurate because when I think about students that I've taught, teachers I've had, people I've met, friends I've made and their approximate ages, it matches up well. I have, however, met a lot of Oliviers which doesn't appear on the list/map.

Personally, I'm not a fan of common names though and there are some on that list I really don't like. I don't think Manon sounds like a very nice girl's name. I had a student called Manon.

Click here to read my other posts about French baby names.

lundi 21 avril 2014

French slang words you need to know

Check out this link here and learn some new French vocab! :)

Car: la voiture -> la bagnole
Money: l'argent -> le fric
Children: les enfants -> les gosses/les gamin(e)s
Criminal: le criminel -> la racaille
Police officers: les policiers -> les flics
Work: le travail -> le boulot
Food: le nourriture -> la bouffe (see my French food and cooking vocabulary list here)
Boyfriend: le petit ami -> le copain
Girlfriend: la petite amie -> la copine
Brother: frère -> frangin
Sister: soeur -> frangine
A drink: un verre
Sleep: sommeil -> dodo ("metro, boulot, dodo")
University: le fac
Clothes: les vêtements -> les fringues, les habits (see my French fashion and sewing vocabulary list here)
Cigarettes: les cigarettes ->les clopes

Check out my previous post on French slang where you can also find a list of books to buy from Amazon to help you.

PS J'en ai marre means... I've had enough! I'm fed up! I'm sick of this! etc...

jeudi 3 avril 2014

Dany Boon as the French voice of Olaf in Frozen La Reine des neiges

Dany Boon la voix française d'Olaf !

I came across this video by accident some time ago but forgot to write about it. I love the comic actor, Dany Boon. He is great in every film I've seen him in. The first one I saw was Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis and I've written about him and his films many times before in this blog here.

When I found out he did the voice of Olaf in the French version of the film Frozen (La Reine des neiges) I immediately had a big smile on my face. He is just PERFECT for the role of sweet, funny, bumbling Olaf. I couldn't think of another better French actor than him for that role.

While I'm on the topic of Disney films and famous French actors, I also found out that Romain Duris was the voice of Flynn Ryder in the French version of Tangled/Rapunzel (Raiponce). Again, he is one of my favourite French actors and when you think about it, he even looks like the character and again, it was a perfect choice.

Frozen tops $1 billion worldwide and the singers of the 25 multilingual version of Let it go

What is the... No. 1 animated film of all time, grossing
$1 billion, with
41 languages,
25 languages (in the "Let it go" song),
22 female singers...

Disney's Frozen of course!

Despite my other Frozen posts such as this one, I never posted a link to the video of the song sung in 25 different languages. I have, however, already learnt not only "Let it go" but most of the other major songs in the film off by heart in both English and French and I am almost there learning "Let it go" (off by heart) in Spanish as well. What can I say? It's such a great film and such an addictive song. My favourite is "Do you want to build a snowman?" or "Je voudrais un bonhomme de neige" in French. I always wondered why they didn't translate it as "Tu veux faire un bonhomme de neige?" which has the same number of syllables.

Well I just came across this great article on Yahoo about the film's main song into 25 different languages. You could never imagine how different this was. It's not simply a matter of translating the song lyrics into other languages, you need to get the same meaning across (but not necessarily use the same words) but this part I didn't know.. they also had to choose words that mimicked the mouth movements of Elsa in the film.
Translating "Frozen" into so many different languages is exceptionally challenging, says Rick Dempsey, a senior exec at Disney's Character Voices International unit. "It's a difficult juggling act to get the right intent of the lyrics and also have it match rhythmically to the music," he told Yahoo in a recent email exchange. "And then you have to go back and adjust for lip sync! [It]… requires a lot of patience and precision."

It's such a joy for me to see the talented faces behind this multilingual version of this song. I almost think it's not fair. How can they all be so talented AND beautiful? ;)

and what is the conclusion of all this? By translating the film and songs into multiple languages they could target a much wider audience.. therefore foreign languages benefit everyone! ;)

and if you still haven't seen the film or watched this song yet, what are you waiting for?


Edited (21 April):

In case you came here looking for the song here it is:

and with lyrics! (from UniLang here)

 (en) The snow glows white on the mountain tonight, not a footprint to be seen
 (fr) Un royaume de solitude, ma place est là pour toujours
 (de) Der Wind, er heult so wie der Sturm ganz tief in mir
 (nl) Het werd mij te veel, hoe ik mijn best ook deed
 (zh) 别让他们进来看见,做好女孩,就像妳的从前
Bié ràng tāmen jìnlái kànjiàn, zuohǎo nǚhái jiù xiàng nǐ de cóngqián
Swedish (sv) Visa ingenting, vad du än gör, allt är förstört!
 (ja) ありのままの姿見せるのよ
Arinomama no sugata miseru no yo
 (es) Libre soy, libre soy, ¡libertad sin vuelta atrás!
Polish (Polski) (PL-pl) Wszystkim wbrew na ten gest mnie stać
 (hu) Jöjjön száz orkán, és közben a szívemen ül a jég
 (es-ES) Desde la distancia, ¡qué pequeño todo es!
 (ca) I les pors que em dominaven per sempre han fugit
 (it) Non è un difetto, è una virtù e non la fermerò mai più
 (ko) 내맘대로 자유롭게 살래!
naemamdaelo jayulobge sallae
 (sr) Сад је крај, сад је крај На крилима ветра сам
Sad je kraj, sad je kraj Na krilima vetra sam
 (yue.Hant) 誰亦要隨心講, 忘掉昨天悲歌
(pinyin for Mandarin) Shuí yì yào suíxīn jiǎng, wàngdiào zuótiān bēigē
 (pt) Estou aqui, e vou ficar! Venha a tempestade!
 (ms) Kuasaku buat hidup bercelaru
 (ru) Подвластны мне мороз и лёд, ну что за дивный дар
Podvlastny mne moroz i lod, nu chto za divnyy dar
Danish (da) Og som krystaller står en tanke ganske klar
 (bg) Ще спра да бъда аз на миналото плен
Shte spra da bŭda az na minaloto plen
Norwegian (no) La den gå, la den gå, jeg skal stige lik solen nå
 (th) ปล่อยออกมา เลิกซ่อนเร้น เด็กดี ไม่เห็นมีค่า
Pl̀xy xxk mā leik s̀xn rên dĕk dī mị̀ h̄ĕn mī kh̀ā
 (fr-CA) Je suis là, comme je l'ai rêvé
 (nl-BE) En de storm raast door... De vrieskou, daar zat ik toch al niet mee

vendredi 14 mars 2014

Benny Lewis' new language learning book Fluent in 3 months

For those of you who have been following my blog for a long time you would know that I started this blog because I wanted to have a diary to keep track of my French learning.

I started my blog in mid 2009 (that's nearly 5 years! Yay!) and around the same time somebody else also started a language learning blog to keep track of their progress.

That person was Benny Lewis, who is now known as the "Irish Polyglot". I've been following him on/off the last few years and even left a few comments on his blog. He doesn't know me, and we've never met, but in a way I feel like I 'know' him and I'm super proud of how far he has come.

He's not only an inspiration for languages learners worldwide, but to me he is also an inspiration by proving that you really can make a living doing what you love, as long as you put all your effort, time, love and passion into it.

He has had amazing success in a short amount of time and made tons of friends worldwide. He has heaps of useful and funny videos on Youtube. (one of my favourites is "Skype me maybe" sung to the tune of "Call me maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen, in 30+ languages! It is such a great, feel good happy video).

Obviously at the end of the day everybody has to make a living and Benny does so with the language learning courses and e-books he sells, but the same time he also has tons and tons of free content on his blog/site.

I was so happy and excited for him when I read the other day that he scored a book publishing deal with the huge publishing house Harper Collins.

Anyway, if you need some encouragement and advice for foreign language learning and haven't read it yet (where have you been?) go read his blog or go get his new book Fluent in 3 months. As I said earlier, he doesn't know who I am and did not tell me to write this. I just wanted to help promote his book because he seems like such an awesome guy and deserves all the success in the world. :)

(image from Benny's blog)

jeudi 13 mars 2014

Frozen parody trailer


Honest trailers - Frozen
by Screenjunkies

If you love Frozen as much as I did, check out my previous post on it (now more popular than my Michelle Phan post!) or check out this hilarious spoof/parody trailer! It is just too hilarious! :D

Welcome to Arendale, a magical-ish, Scandanavian-ish country that has been cursed with an eternal winter. Even though their main export is ice.

Meet Elsa, a manic-depressive princess with a confusing set of powers, like snowblasting, dress-making, castle-building, and… creating life?

Fall in love with her adorkable sister Anna who spends 3 years of her adult life shut inside a castle, even though she can leave at any time...

and who could forget the completely unnecessary, unexplained magical troll rocks.

When disaster strikes, watch Anna save the day by teaming up with her sister, a merchant, a hot guy and a snowman to defeat villains like her sister, a merchant, a hot guy and a snowman.

Experience a clever twist on past Disney films that teaches girls everywhere they don't need a prince to rescue them because all men are disgusting loners, greedy murderers, or lying, manipulative power-hungry sociopaths.

So gather the family and sing along on a musical journey that's all about the soundtrack featuring unforgettable songs such as the Exposition song, the song that sounds like it's from Wicked, the romantic duet, the other romantic duet, the anthropomorphic sidekicks comic relief song, the one you skipped, the one you don't know the words to and the Yolo song. "Get the song out of my head!"

Starring forgotten Sarah Marshall, Kristoff Waltz, Ugly Smurfs, Hans Gruber, Merchandising, and the wickedly talented Adele Dazeem.

vendredi 7 mars 2014

Sara Smoukahontas Finnish girl speaks 14 'languages' with gibberish

I just came across this video which has been doing the rounds on the internet. As of 3 March (4 days ago) I see that it has had an incredible 3,617,209 views already! That's almost 1 million views per DAY.

by Sara "smoukahontas", a 19 year old Finnish girl that speaks Finnish, Swedish and English.

I do remember coming across a similar video a while ago on YouTube but I think hers is better.

Here are the 'languages' that she speaks in the video using gibberish words.

  • Finnish
  • Swedish
  • Estonian
  • Russian/Slavic
  • French
  • Pizza (Italian)
  • Portuguese
  • UK English
  • Japanese
  • Spanish
  • USA English
  • Hindi/Tamil
  • Arabic
  • East Asian

The video is funny and I thought she did most of them pretty well except Japanese and Arabic. Also I admit I have absolutely no idea what Estonian is supposed to sound like.

She 'cheated' in many languages as I could easily hear real words in French, Italian and UK English. Oh well. It was all for a bit of fun I suppose. I bet she never expected so many views and worldwide fame to come from it!! :D

Haha. This second video she made is even funnier! and there are more languages! But I don't think the Australian one is that good. It's very hard to fake a good Australian accent ;)


Here are the list of languages:

  • Polish
  • Russian
  • Japanese (better!)
  • Something African
  • Something exotic - sounds like Hindi?
  • Jamaican with Aspergers
  • Brazilian?
  • Hebrew
  • Arabic
  • Australian English (sounds American)
  • Scottish
  • Irish (hilarious)
  • Chinese
  • Turkish
  • German

Then she talks about loving all the languages of the world... except Dutch. Funny girl.

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