Sunday, May 04, 2008

Day 664: I Brush Up My French

I have a great many hobbies, some of which involve the consumption of gin, many of which involve late nights atop a mound waiting for beavers, and none of which you would find were you to hunt for days in the 'hobbies' section of Borders.

So saying, most of my hobbies are harmless; one in particular may do a great deal of good. In it, I visit charity shops and church 'Bazars', as they are called here in French Canadia were I live, and exchange a few pounds (or 'loonies'!!!) for old books that I find amusing. Amusing, mind; not interesting or 'good'; amusing.

Yesterday's church 'Bazar' turned up a great many interesting items, including a Good Housekeeping guide to party games (1951), and a complete set of unused Marguerite Patten recipe cards, in their box, translated into French. (I am considering a new game, "Marguerite PotLuck", in which the veterinary research pathologist that I am proud to call 'driving partner' picks a card at random from the box; I must then cook the recipe, even if it is liver, bacon and orange paste en croûte, and we must eat it.)

My most prized find, however, was one of three language books I found (and these are my favourite category overall, as they usually contain excellent illustrations). It was published by the Daily Mail in 1932, i.e. before it became a newspaper for the simple-minded, and teaches French by telling the story of M. and Mme. Dupont, who leave their country residence for a spell in Paris.

It is astonishingly useful to me, as not only do I need to brush up my French (I am only partially bilingual; the part that orders ice-cream and asks where the station is), but I also need - as a matter of urgency - to start having some conversations of real use.

The format is simple: it is written in English, with the French translation on the opposite page. Dull, one would think; but no! M. and Mme Dupont have the most extraordinary lives, full of frank conversations with servants and shopkeepers, and teasing conversations with each other about wine.

I shall say no more. All I can do is offer some excerpts, each one "full of remarks that give me great pleasure", as the fruiterer says to Mme Dupont in lesson 54.









Coming soon: M. and Mme. Dupont tease each other mercilessly over the Montrachet, and Mme. Dupont discusses jugged hare with the butcher.

12 comments:

tim (m) said...

Sorry to set the tone so low and so early in the game, but just like Monsieur Dupont, I do like a good friction now and again.... ahem..

Thanks for the laugh.. I did need one today.

ScroobiousScrivener said...

How marvellous. I love collecting that sort of book too, I'm quite jealous. And now you know how to tell people you have a lot of scurf on your scalp in French!

Z said...

That's splendid. I wonder what the French is for "you, who are becoming rather stoutish"? Not that it's a phrase that one would wish to hear.

Megan said...

I have been reading aloud choice bits of a German book like this (only poorly written and modern with no nice fonts or nuffin'). Favorite phrase so far? "Kleine... aber... feine." The elipses were not in the original but I know what they meant.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic !

The Wrath of Dawn said...

Everyone needs a good fruiterer, as the actress said to the bishop.

There is an alternative to learning to speak French properly. You could just move to New Brunswick where they just pop in the English word when they can't think of the French one.

Comme ça:

Je m'appelle Wrath. Je demure au Nouveau Brunswick. J'ai une belle
fruiterer dans mon supermarket.

They do, you know. I've heard it with my own oreilles.

Katy Newton said...

Tagged you, beeyatch. Tagged you GOOD.

PS I hope a remark like that gives you great pleasure.

bluefluff said...

Most entertaining! I do hope you'll post the corresponding French pages, for those of us of a linguistical bent.

Clare Sudbery said...

ooh ah, that's ace!

Even betterer tthan your intro promised.

And I too would like to see the corresponding French, at the very least for the stoutish remark.

Anonymous said...

asta said...

Brilliant.

I'm still waiting for your review of the Canadian blockbuster White Tuft.

Anonymous said...

My very first French class discussed the Duponts:

Maman: Anne - Michel! Vous travallez?

Anne: Er..non. Nous regardons las television.

Maman: Les Duponts arrive dans une huer!

(Maman is truly pissed that her children are slackers - she also doesn't wish to be featured in the Duponts tales so she wants a clean house)

Jaywalker said...

I soooo live next door to that coiffeur. Though actually mine is a little gloomier and I am not sure it could be described as "very clean and smart". I am planning a lengthy photo essay on his window displays.
This made me snort tea through my nose, incidentally. More please.

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