A to Z 2016 — Uh-oh…j’ai fait une erreur.

Bonjour mes chers lecteurs ! Bienvenue sur le site “Forty, C’est Fantastique.” Qu’est-ce que c’est ? De quoi s’agit-il ? Alors, c’est mon voyage vers la langue française. Un voyage sans fin. Je l’ai commencé il y a trois ans et demi. De temps en temps, il y a des gens qui me demandent : “Comment as-tu appris la langue française ?” Je leur réponds : “Je n’ai pas appris la langue française. Je suis toujours en train de l’apprendre”

Parlez Français !
Parlez Français !


La Partie en anglais

Mistakes, mistakes, we all make mistakes from time to time. And despite what some people say, if you make the same one over and over, it doesn’t mean that you are stupid! It just means that (hopefully) each time you do, you get a little closer to understanding. First you get corrected by someone else, and eventually you recognize the error and correct yourself, and finally you stop doing it! Am I right?


So back to les bêtises…I make them all the time in French, both written and spoken.  In French, there are a lot of traps for those of us learning the language…there are the “false friends” (and for a good explanation of some of these, check out Evelyne Holingue’s site, where she has done her A to Z on words like this!), words where the pronunciation is the same or almost the same, expressions which cannot be translated between the two languages, just all kinds of “faux pas” that we can make. Some of them are famous (click here for the most common ones) . I’ve made some of these too. There are all kinds of things you can say which would be totally innocent in English but which have…you know…”innuendos” in French, you have to be careful! And even so, you’re likely to say something unintentionally “risqué” from time to time. Just blush, hope that the person you said it to has a good sense of humor, and go on with life!


I’ve made all kinds of strange errors in French, but here are some examples: I learned that the word for “paperclip” was “trombone.”  The next time I tried to use it, I mixed up my brass instruments and called it a “trompette.” My French teacher had a good laugh over that one. Another time, a couple of years ago, I had a correspondant who had had a bad cold, so I wrote that I hoped he’d feel better soon. But in French it is no simple task to say that! The verb “sentir” can mean “to feel” in certain circumstances, but it most often means “to smell” as in “to have an odor.” So when I wrote “J’espère que tu sens bientôt mieux” I told him that I hoped he smelled better soon. Doh!! What I wanted was the reflexive form of the verb, “se sentir.”  Somehow, by indicating that the subject of the verb is performing the action upon himself, sentir changes from meaning “to smell” and then means “to feel” in the sense of feeling healthy or sick, etc. Anyway, my correspondant had a good sense of humor and told me that he was in fact very clean, and didn’t think he smelled bad.  These kinds of errors are common in all language learners, and anyone who’s ever tried to learn a foreign language will understand. I remember in High School there was a Finnish exchange student in my journalism class. She had an outstanding level of English, and yet she still made funny mistakes. I remember once we had a party in class, and she was setting the table. She came back into the classroom and told us that the “kidnappers were on the table.” She meant “napkins” but we all laughed over that one. Totally understandable because of the “nap” sound in both words, don’t you think?


In writing, I continually have trouble with certain grammar points, but each time I make them I hope to make progress toward remembering them for the next time. I have, in fact, a correspondant who helps me out a ton with my writing, even with my writing style which I am striving to make “more French.”  We use the text feature of Skype to  talk about grammar, French expressions, culture, and things like that. I like this because my correspondant is very precise about written French, and he is kind enough to help me by providing “on the spot” corrections. I really appreciate when he gives me a “more French” way to say something. There are, it turns out, a ton of ways to say something that are not actually “wrong” grammatically, but which a real French person would never say or write. It’s the same in any language. I’m sure you can think of a time when you were speaking to a foreigner and thought to yourself, “That’s an odd way to say that…”  Not that it was wrong or that you didn’t understand, but just that it wasn’t “how we would say it.”  Anyway, I owe my correspondant, G,  “un grand merci” because I have sought his advice on a lot of the “French parts” of this “A to Z” challenge.  In fact, I will be making a list of merci‘s at the end of the challenge because so many people have helped me do this!! So stay tuned for that 🙂


In summary, I just want to say this:

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Make them. Make huge mistakes, laugh at yourself, and learn for the next time. Truly, once you’ve told one person that you hope they smell better soon, you won’t be likely to do it again! So…yes. making mistakes is a great way to make progress!  I will leave you with this quotation which I like very much:

  • Mistakes are stepping stones to success.–Charles E. Popplestone


The Part in French

Des erreurs, des bêtises, des fautes, tout le monde fait des bêtises de temps en temps. Et, contrairement de certaines citations, si on fait les mêmes plusieurs fois, ça ne veut pas dire que l’on est stupide. Je les fais “à l’écrit” et “à l’oral.” En français, il y a des “pièges” pour nous pauvres étudiants ! Il y a des “faux amis,” (et pour une bonne explication de cela, voir le site d’Evelyne Holingue qui a fait son “A à Z” au sujet des mots qui ont des significations différentes en français et en anglais!), des mots dont la prononciation est la même ou presque la même, des expressions qui ne se traduisent pas entre les deux langues, toutes sortes de “faux pas” que l’on peut faire. Certains sont fameux, voir ce site: (Cliquez) Moi aussi, je fais des erreurs comme cela ! Il me semble qu’il y a beaucoup de choses qui ont l’air “innocentes” pour nous Américains mais qui ont des significations “risquées” en français. De plus, j’ai fait des erreurs qui sont tout simplement bizarres. Par exemple, j’ai appris le mot “trombone” qui veut dire “Attache pour papiers, formée d’un fil métallique replié sur lui-même”, mais je me suis trompée de mot et j’ai dit “trompette.” Ma prof a beaucoup ri. Une fois il y a deux ans, j’ai eu un correspondant qui était malade. Je lui ai dit, “J’espère que tu sens bientôt mieux.” mais bien sûr je voulais dire “J’espère que tu te sens bientôt mieux” ! Heureusement il a eu un bon sens de l’humour ! Il m’a répondu qu’il était, en fait, très propre.
À l’écrit, j’ai du mal avec certains points de grammaire en français, mais chaque fois que j’en fais, j’approche de mon but qui est de me rappeler la règle. En fait, j’ai un correspondant qui m’aide beaucoup avec l’écriture. On échange via le texte sur Skype au sujet de la langue française, principalement sur la grammaire, des expressions et de la culture française. J’aime bien cet échange parce que mon correspondant est très précis avec la langue écrite et il est très gentil de me corriger. J’apprécie ses conseils, particulièrement quand il me donne des tournures plus “françaises.” C’est bon pour développer les “oreilles de l’écrit” comme il dit. Par exemple la semaine dernière, il m’a aidée avec mon article pour la lettre “S” et il a remarqué que j’oublie d’utiliser “…que l’on” au lieu de “qu’on.” et “cela” au lieu de “ça.” En fait, j’oublie cela tout le temps. J’ai de la chance d’avoir un correspondant qui est doué pour la langue française et qui est quelqu’un dont mes questions ne l’embête pas. Pendant nos “conversations” il me corrige “au fur et à mesure” ce qui m’aide énormément parce que c’est immédiat et pertinent. Ma prof fait la même chose, en fait, quand on parle. Cela n’interrompt pas la conversation ! C’est génial !


Finalement, je voulais vous dire de ne pas craindre vos bêtises. N’ayez pas peur de faire des fautes… ça aussi, c’est une bonne manière d’apprendre !


Le mot du jour from Larousse.fr : (you can click on the word to go to their site, which includes a pronunciation of the word)

Uniquement : 

  • De façon unique, exclusive
  • Indique une restriction


uniquement. Larousse.fr Retrieved March 15, 2016, from http://www.larousse.fr/dictionnaires/francais/uniquement/80599?q=uniquement#79648

In English: In a unique or exclusive manner, or  Indicative of a restriction

Ex: “Cette confiture est fait uniquement dans ce restaurant. C’est une recette secrète du chef pâtissier.”

“This jelly is only made in this restaurant. It’s the pastry chef’s secret recipe.”



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