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Seablue

French-grammar nazi

41 posts in this topic

As I have endured some weird takes that foreigners have on some French words and expressions for years now, I'm snapping and will attempt to fix some of them.

"Coup de grâce" means "death blow". It can of course be used metaphorically but should not be used to describe something positive.

"C'est la vie !": If you are writing it in some other way, like "cay la vie", please stop. If you are writing it this way, keep going. This one is generally correctly used.

"Raison d'être" means "reason to be/to exist". I think it's used correctly most of the time, but sometimes it's used... weirdly. It does NOT translate as "the meaning of life", so you shouldn't tell someone "I am going to show you the raison d'être", for instance.

"Ménage à trois": Ménage = household. A ménage à trois, in French, refers to a polyamorous arrangement of some kind, where three people live together in a love/sexual triangle. Not a mere threesome. I just thought you might want to know this before you try to have a kinky one night stand with two French persons, and then wonder why instead of bringing condoms at your place, they are both bringing suitcases and starting to make arrangement to rent moving vans.

"Ennui" literally translates as "boredom". Yes, I get that in English the word is used to refer to Camus' philosophy and to something a bit different. Just be aware that if you say to a French person you are suffering from ennui, all they'll understand is that you are bored and being melodramatic about it.

"Cirque du soleil": ok, this one is a bit different and is really just about grammar. It translates directly as "Circus of the Sun". So if you are going to their show you should say, "I am going to see THE Cirque du Soleil". Don't skip "the".

"le": Again about grammar, and I get that this is a bit of a meme where accuracy doesn't really matter. But just so you know, "le" is the *masculine* form of "the". There is also a feminine form, "la". So if you are talking about "le girlfriend" (I am looking at you @Polymath20) just know that you are doing a gender mistmatch and that you could more accurately write "la girlfriend".

(Edit: And cheese omelet is omelette AU fromage. Not omelette DU fromage.)

 

I'm not sure anything else is coming to mind right now so I will end this by encouraging you all to add the word "putain" to your vocabularies. It literally means "whore" but is really used as "fuck". Guaranteed success during family dinners when everyone can admire your swearing instead of beating you with wooden spoons for using the f-word.

putain.gif

Video for pronounciation and more context:

 

 

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As if I haven't been criticized for my butchering of your barbaric tongue already :p 

Stinking uncivilized Gauls. 

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1 minute ago, Polymath20 said:

As if I haven't been criticized for my butchering of your barbaric tongue already :p 

Stinking uncivilized Gauls. 

Oh, putain... :rolleyes:

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This is about the extent of my knowledge of french.  Well, this and parle

giphy.gif

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4 hours ago, Seablue said:

"Raison d'être" means "reason to be/to exist". I think it's used correctly most of the time, but sometimes it's used... weirdly. It does NOT translate as "the meaning of life", so you shouldn't tell someone "I am going to show you the raison d'être", for instance.

That doesn't seem very ontologically open-minded.

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2 hours ago, Junk said:

This is about the extent of my knowledge of french.  Well, this and parle

giphy.gif

Ah right, thanks for providing another occasion for grammarnazism.

This episode of Dexter was bloody hilarious, BUT it should be omelette AU fromage. Not omelette DU fromage.

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4 hours ago, Seablue said:

. . . . .   should not be used to describe something positive.

 

 

What's the reasoning behind that?  (If there is any - maybe it is just an artifact of the language.)

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50 minutes ago, Melchizedek said:

That doesn't seem very ontologically open-minded.

Well, once you start comparing yourself to a nazi, even in jest, it's not because you're about to be open-minded.

But really what I said is just about the literal meaning of the words.

 
 
...... added to this post 16 minutes later:
 
47 minutes ago, Warrior said:

What's the reasoning behind that?  (If there is any - maybe it is just an artifact of the language.)

Like I said, the coup de grâce is the "death blow". Literally, "Grâce" means "mercy" (in this context anyway), and the "coup de grâce" is the "merciful blow", because it is the final blow that you strike to someone (or to an animal) to spare them the suffering of a slow death.

So if you're using the expression, the meaning is that whatever you are talking about killed someone/something, literally or figuratively. We would use it to describe a negative event (most likely the last one in a series), the event that destroyed someone, that ended them, for instance "He was already depressed from losing his job, but his wife leaving him was the coup de grâce".

It can't be used to refer to something positive because of, well, all the above: something positive is not a fatal blow, it's not something that kills, destroys, ends.

 

 
 
...... added to this post 4 minutes later:
 

Oh yeah, and since this was brought up in another thread recently: "escargots" literally means snails, and refers to the live animals as well as to them as food in French. Which doesn't mean there's anything wrong with the way it's used in English ; it's just amusing that the French word is used at all.

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6 hours ago, Seablue said:

"le": Again about grammar, and I get that this is a bit of a meme where accuracy doesn't really matter. But just so you know, "le" is the *masculine* form of "the". There is also a feminine form, "la". So if you are talking about "le girlfriend" (I am looking at you @Polymath20) just know that you are doing a gender mistmatch and that you could more accurately write "la girlfriend".

 

 

 

 

 

IMO - that was the worst part about studying French (or any other Romance language I suppose) - learning the genders of nouns :facepalm: 

There's no rhyme nor reason to it at all.... For example: le vagin.

Leave it to the French to decide that vagina should be a masculine noun.

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7 minutes ago, Swamp Yankee said:

IMO - that was the worst part about studying French (or any other Romance language I suppose) - learning the genders of nouns :facepalm: 

There's no rhyme nor reason to it at all.... For example: le vagin.

Leave it to the French to decide that vagina should be a masculine noun.

Ah yes, but call it "la chatte" ("the pussy", most frequent slang word) and then it's feminine. ;)

Same with pénis which is masculine but where most slang terms (bite, queue) are feminine.

The system feels natural to me of course but, having been a teacher, I felt really silly when I had to ask little kids "So, are chairs girls or boys?" to get them to make the adjective agree with the noun.

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2 minutes ago, Seablue said:

Ah yes, but call it "la chatte" ("the pussy", most frequent slang word) and then it's feminine. ;)

Same with pénis which is masculine but where most slang terms (bite, queue) are feminine.

The system feels natural to me of course but, having been a teacher, I felt really silly when I had to ask little kids "So, are chairs girls or boys?" to get them to make the adjective agree with the noun.

I have a good friend that is Polish and he still insists on giving many nouns genders - even though he's only using English nouns now.  It's a pretty strange habit to get used to for speakers of English where I suppose the closest equivalent is the somewhat archaic practice of referring to boats and ships as "she".

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It can be difficult not to do it. Mostly with animals for me. I can get behind calling objects «it» but spontaneously all cats and dogs are «him», etc. And sometimes I'll give a gender to an object by accident.

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59 minutes ago, Swamp Yankee said:

IMO - that was the worst part about studying French (or any other Romance language I suppose) - learning the genders of nouns :facepalm: 

There's no rhyme nor reason to it at all.... For example: le vagin.

Leave it to the French to decide that vagina should be a masculine noun.

Maybe its because of origines of the word are different from feminine. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=vagina

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9 hours ago, Seablue said:

"Cirque du soleil": ok, this one is a bit different and is really just about grammar. It translates directly as "Circus of the Sun". So if you are going to their show you should say, "I am going to see THE Cirque du Soleil". Don't skip "the".

Câlisse! You keep your snooty Eurotrash French away from anything Québécois, especially Cirque. Tabarnak!

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Tabarnak is correctly spelled as tabernacle though. Québec people :rolleyes:

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I really enjoyed the french whore video you posted, and as a bonus, now I speak french! :awesome: 

 

Incidentally, Cirque du Soleil is referred to simply as 'Cirque' in Canada, as in: "Are you going to see the new Cirque?"

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C'est vachement chouette cette tred. 

I had a series of french instructional tapes I would listen to in the car, and one of them used the term, vachement choette for like, tres cul, so I used it in class, and my french teacher whirled on me and said, "No.  Just.  No."  so of course I fell instantly in love with it.  Is it as ridiculous as its translation? 

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2 hours ago, Nemesis said:

Câlisse! You keep your snooty Eurotrash French away from anything Québécois, especially Cirque. Tabarnak!

Worked on a solar farm with a bunch of Québécois drillers. Heard Câlisse and osti quiiiite a bit.

Crazy fuckers.

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1 hour ago, envirodude said:

C'est vachement chouette cette tred. 

I had a series of french instructional tapes I would listen to in the car, and one of them used the term, vachement choette for like, tres cul, so I used it in class, and my french teacher whirled on me and said, "No.  Just.  No."  so of course I fell instantly in love with it.  Is it as ridiculous as its translation? 

Vachement chouette? :laugh:

Cow-like owl?

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12 hours ago, Seablue said:

As I have endured some weird takes that foreigners have on some French words and expressions for years now, I'm snapping ...

Fais chier!

English usage of the dreaded R-word ("raison") invariably triggers my ennui.

And don't start me on "sacrebleu"....:knife:

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