Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Word Of The Week


You know by now that I like to watch. Television, that is. Within six months of moving to France we had a satellite dish installed on the house and had it connected to two sets. Then, through trial and error, we found out which tv magazine gave us the best listings for our programming package and eventually subscribed to it.

Now, it may not be the best way to learn new things, but I must say that watching French programs* (news, talk shows, documentaries, movies, and even commercials) is not the worst way to pick up on how the language is used and, of course, to add to your vocabulary. In fact, out here in the countryside, it's a darned good way. So is reading the tv guide; all the program descriptions are in French, naturally.

So this week I noticed a movie in the listings called Starship Troopers 2. Having mildly enjoyed the original, I was curious, until I read the guide's review : "S'évertuer à prolonger un succès paraît ici bien vain..." Striving to build on the success [of the original movie] seems in this case quite futile... It goes on to talk about miserable special effects and lame thrills (more words for later). You get the picture.

S'évertuer means to strive, to do one's utmost, to struggle toward a goal. I didn't have to m'évertuer to choose something else to watch that night.

While we're on the subject of tv, France 2 is running a series of short films based on the contes (tales) of Guy de Maupassant on Tuesday nights. We missed the first two last week (Eddy Mitchell was in one!), but did see last night's episode. The first movie was Le Père Amable, full of Norman patois, but not too hard to decipher. The second film, Hautot Père et Fils, starred Jean Rochefort and his son Julien. We enjoyed them both.

*Full disclosure moment : Ken and I do watch programming in English - mostly movies, some series, and some political news shows. Digital satellite tv allows us to choose the language we hear for many programs. I maintain that there's no reason to watch an American movie dubbed into French, except for the pure entertainment value of the lousy translations.


  1. Good morning! (Or, afternoon in your case.) I remember going to see Starwars in a theater in Paris when I was in Highschool - mid 80's. It was in French. I fell asleep within 45 minutes, after the novelty wore off. Your post reminded me of that. Have a great day!

  2. even when it's a movie in a language I don't understand, I'd rather listen to the actors real voice than to a dubiously dubbed version.
    When I'm watching an English-speaking movie with French subtitles, I can't help checking the subtitles for mistakes and errors. :)

  3. mpabner, thanks for stopping by !

    claude, I totally agree about hearing the original actors. Ken always reads the subtitles when we watch something in english and points out the strange translations.

  4. I was in Korea for business and just happened into The Rock (with Sean Connery and Nicholas Cage) dubbed in Korean (or it could have been some other Asian language). It was pretty cool, although stunning to see firsthand how little the dialogue mattered.

    I would really love to see stories of Guy de Maupassant - when I studied French I used to read them for fun. They were just easy and yet challenging enough for me.


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