On en parle

Pressed for time? You’ve come to the right place. Please check here for a quick view of our latest blog posts and updates.


August 29, 2017

Compte à rebours

What better way to cool off at the end of August than with an anti-morosité ventilo? You can pretend you’re in Paris while watching a film on  the slow summer.


July 24, 2017

Faute grave 5: A Singing Cure

French singers and songwriters twist conjugation for rhyme and meter’s sake. You make earnest blunders — and don’t get away with, let alone praised for, them. Kinda cool, kinda not. I know.


June 13, 2017

Pepé je peux

How is it that Linda always opts for je peut instead of je peux? The name of a romantic cartoon skunk serves as a mnemonic device to help her remember that pesky x. And don’t forget to click on the button at the end of the post for a Cla(i)r(e)fication.


May 8, 2017

Cla(i)r(e)fication — Et quelles salades!

France has just elected its youngest president — and one whose salades are most delectable. No sarcasm here from Claire. Nothing but an homage to Emmanuel Macron’s way with the French language.

And remember how Linda was dans l’brouillard last week? This week’s Cla(i)r(e)fication will help her through ze French fog.


May 5, 2017

Dans le brouillard 1: salades politiques

Emmanuel Macron’s gathering at La Rotonde after the first round of the presidential election was about more than food. But Linda is dans l’brouillard about Macron’s parting shot to journalists afterward.


May 1, 2017

Faute grave 4: Serious Proof … singing

Words or melody? A song by Serge Gainsbourg is the kind of spelling rehab that even the walking wounded can enjoy. Or is it? Claire explains why c’est pas de la tarte.


March 28, 2017

Faute grave 3: Out of the Closet

Still battling your spelling demons? In the third post of this series, Linda shares stories of others fighting the good fight. Will the walk of shame end here?


March 15, 2017

To Tu or Not to Tu

How often does a learner get to interface with a community of teachers, especially on the tu versus vous dilemma? Visiting the website T’enseignes-tu?, Linda discovers the question is as difficult for teachers as it is for their students.


March 6, 2017

T’enseignes-tu?

T’enseignes-tu? is a funny-looking question unless you’ve been to Québec. As Claire explains, it’s also the name of a website for the FSL teaching community worldwide that has featured another website that you may know.


January 19, 2017

Escape Artists

What is it about French pharmacies and pharmacists that remains so compelling? In Anna’s joy-filled novel L’Échappée belle, the character of Carine is a pharmacist qui a fait pharmacie mais préfère qu’on dise médecine, donc elle est pharmacienne mais préfère qu’on dise pharmacien, donc elle a une pharmacie mais préfère qu’on dise une officine — a description Linda finds une délectation.


January 6, 2017

A Political Weather Forecast

If it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, is it a canard? It is when it is Le Canard enchaîné, a popular satirical French newspaper. Claire explains how a pun on an old saying turns into a political forecast.


December 3, 2016

Accros à Laclos

What Michel Laclos offers French crossword enthusiasts is rarely the obvious. Claire challenges cruciverbistes to a brainteasing workout with l’empereur des formules.


November 26, 2016

À mourir de rire

If you’re French, is it possible to die laughing at what the British think of your behavior? And what does this have to do with the Lettres Persanes? Our friend Jacques D. helps us find the French funny bone.


November 20, 2016

No subtitles necessary

What makes a film French? One tipoff is the casting of Isabelle Huppert. And then there are those pesky subtitles … But the story of how Paul Verhoeven directed her new film, Elle, is actually a case study in task-based learning.


November 11, 2016

Qui aurait imaginé?

Things don’t always mean what they seem to. Years after first hearing (and misunderstanding) the expression “Ça me fait une belle jambe,” Linda finally discovers its true meaning. Paying attention to your own malentendus can be a great learning tool.


November 4, 2016

How to deal with conversation stoppers

At a loss for words when you’re put on the spot? Maybe you’re speechless at a dinner party when someone insists on talking about the election. Well, you can always count on French délicatesse. Linda suggests turning to Coffee Break French for some handy phrases to smooth over those awkward conversational moments.


November 2, 2016

Tout ça pour un roman!

On Thursday, the 2016 winner of the Prix Goncourt will be announced in Paris. Just another literary prize? Not exactly. Claire explains why the Goncourt is the “king” of the dozens — or is it hundreds? — of awards in a country where novelists can achieve the status of rock stars. And why a famous restaurant serves as the venue for les Dix, who discuss, deliberate and award their prize while feasting on la haute cuisine.


October 29, 2016

Friendly Fire

Nelly Alard‘s Moment d’un couple provoked a few moments between a real-life couple on our website. The sparks fly in Linda and Bob’s discussion of this prize-winning novel about adultery. Can this marriage be saved? And do you need to read Descartes and Rousseau to find out?


October 16, 2016

Join the Discussion

Our learned friend Jacques D. took the time to comment at length on Linda’s interpretation of Michel Houellebecq’s Soumission.

We’d love to hear your comments as well. We’ve simplified the  process somewhat, while trying to maintain the proper balance between encouraging discussion and blocking spam. Please take a look at the box under every post and don’t hesitate to comment on what you’ve read.


October 9, 2016

What a Difference a Would Makes

If you’ve ever wondered why grammar is important, reading Michel Houellebecq’s Soumission will make you a convert. Conjugaison has never mattered more, as Linda points out, in a novel where paying attention to what you read reveals the space beween a real future and one that is only imagined.


September 30, 2016

Quoi ma gueule?

Gueule is a handy word in lots of situations: yelling and scolding, for instance, or … puking. Une belle gueule is a good looking guy, not to mention a common last name in northern France. Which leads Claire to En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule, the autobiographical first novel that has taken France by storm.

Explore the various uses of gueule and take a quiz on the meaning of some familiar and unfamiliar phrases.


September 16, 2016

Registres de langue

Give your registre de langue a workout by watching and listening to Fabrice Luchini, France’s beloved acteur, auteur, and raconteur. Share Linda’s appreciation for the musicality of his language, even when his verlan is hard to follow.


September 9, 2016

Cultiver son jardin

“Il faut cultiver notre jardin,” Voltaire wrote. But how? Claire explains how the French fondness for l’art de corriger la nature did not survive the Channel crossing.

Paths to understanding

Please visit our two new pages to help organize your experience of our website:

On en parle: Check here for a quick view of our latest posts and updates.

Menu saveurs: The topics of our posts vary widely and a list of categories will help you sample and select.

Bonne dégustation!

And please don’t miss the new pictures in our slide show …


September 2, 2016

Faute grave 1 & 2

Do you cringe when you make a mistake? Relax — it could be worse. At least your fautes d’orthographe haven’t (yet) been outed on the Web. Linda wonders how to think about mistakes in spelling and grammar — her own included — in the first of a series of posts on errors and their ramifications.

In the second of the series, Linda describes how one traumatized victim of dictées fought back — by writing her own books.


August 19, 2016

Rando, philo, bistrot

A slogan from May 1968 still reverberates throughout French culture. Claire goes back to the source in a 1951 poem, finds current variations of le slogan soixante-huitard, and proposes some unexpected new triplets.


August 12, 2016

Les Chevaliers du Subjonctif

Is the subjunctive just a question of grammar, or does it reveal something more about French speakers and their culture? Claire reconsiders the power of the subjunctive and Linda’s response to Matthias Schoenaerts in Rust and Bone.


August 8, 2016

On en parle cette semaine

The battle over the true Savon de Marseille — a courtroom drama or, ahem, a soap opera? Linda looks at the storied history and alleged healing powers of the familiar green product that has taken on some new forms and colors.

Claire surprises herself with some wordplay in her neighborhood pub in Brooklyn — a feat of language that is as satisfying as a drink in a familiar bistro in France.

Linda considers the power of the subjunctive in this clip from Rust and Bone, starring Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts.


 

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