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Clotilde's beautiful English

 
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dory



Joined: 11 Nov 2007
Posts: 236
Location: Madison, WI

PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2011 8:23 pm    Post subject: Clotilde's beautiful English Reply with quote

Ok, Clotilde, I have been dying to ask, but have been too shy. I have, for much of my life, been an English as a second/foreign language teacher, although I am not right now. I have not yet had a student whose English got as good or as idiomatically perfect as yours, although I have had a few friends who have lived in the United States for (many) years, who got almost as good. When I was living in France my French got pretty decent, and when I just came home from Spain and married a South American, my Spanish got pretty good again, but I have to talk to people constantly to maintain that level. My French has deteriorated A LOT as I now have nobody to talk to. I need several hours of conversation to get something back, and my Spanish has deteriorated quite a bit as much husband has become more and more English-oriented. When I am attending a party in Spanish or am with my in-laws I notice a lot of hesitation and awkward expressions. How did you get your English so good, and how are you keeping it that good. I know you blog in English, but still....

You don't have to answer if I have embarrassed you, or if you feel you can't. To keep this a more general blog thread, what languages do people here speak, how did you learn, and how do you keep current?

Dory
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clotilde
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Joined: 24 Sep 2004
Posts: 443
Location: Paris, France

PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2011 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a lovely compliment you're paying me, Dory, thank you (blushing on this side of the screen).

I think my English is the result of several factors that pretty much span my entire life: I was brought up in a French environment, but by Anglophile parents, who read a lot in English, took my sister and me to see movies in the original version, would translate the lyrics of songs for us, and occasionally spoke to each other in English when we were young and they didn't want us to know what they were talking about (discussing Christmas gifts, special outings, that kind of thing).

They also sent me to stay with English-speaking families (in the UK, Ireland or the US) for a few weeks every summer starting from age 10, and that seriously helped develop my language skills. I also started reading books in English as a teenager, starting with Roald Dahl's Matilda I think.

Then I worked for 2 years in California, which further polished my English and made it more idiomatic. And since the creation of C&Z some seven years ago, I've used it daily on the blog, in my professional life, and also with my English-speaking friends.

But most of all, I love the language profoundly, I really really do, and find immense joy in studying, speaking, reading, and writing it. It feels like play, really. I learn new words, new expressions, new turns of phrase every day, and feel that much richer.
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dory



Joined: 11 Nov 2007
Posts: 236
Location: Madison, WI

PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 11:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am still impressed. I grew up in a Francophile family, even with a father who read me Tintin comics for bedtime stories. (He never noticed that some of the pictures are shockingly racist, and as a small child I did not either.) However, my dad is one of those people who have no gift for spoken languages, and his French pronunciation was (and is) so bad he can't be understood, even though he reads French as well as he does English. I did study French literature at the university and live in France for a year and socialize for a time with a group of French speaking friends on my return, and although my French got pretty fluent at its best, it was never like your English. Now I have nobody to speak with, so I have lost a LOT. Even at my best I would have LOVED to have French that was as grammatically correct and perfect as your English.

Not many people speak another language as well as you, unless they grow up someplace like Montreal where they hear both from birth (those lucky people!!!!, besides the fact that Montreal is so beautiful!). I love the way you write as well. Ok, now you can stop blushing because I am going to stop.

Dory
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clotilde
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Joined: 24 Sep 2004
Posts: 443
Location: Paris, France

PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 12:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Dory, that means a lot to me.
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minty



Joined: 17 Jul 2006
Posts: 140

PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with you, Dory ; it's very difficult to keep fluent in a langage when you don't have any opportunities to speak it ; even though you can practice by reading and watching movies - actually, I prefer series, and older ones, which are in my opinion better for idiomatic expressions - it does not compare to being in the country and speaking the langage everyday ; if I were a billionaire, I would spend more time in England ...
I'm studying psycholinguistics at the moment, and we learn that when a child is learning his first worlds, the most important is the conversational exchange between him/her and his/her mother - he has to participate in order to learn ...and I think so do we Wink
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dory



Joined: 11 Nov 2007
Posts: 236
Location: Madison, WI

PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2011 11:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Exactly. I was an English teacher for years, and then taught theory and methods of language teaching. I have read research showing that we have to have a social exchange to really learn a language effectively. Things like the Rosetta Stone software for language learning don't really work for psychological reasons. We have to have some feeling of affiliation with people who speak the other language.

There have been studies of hearing children of deaf parents. OF course these children learn to sign as their first language. Often the parents put these children in front of the TV in order for them to learn oral speech. They don't learn much until they go to preschool or have some other long social exchange with hearing people. At that point their oral language explodes. In other words, we humans cannot really be replaced in social processes like language. It is quite a comforting thought, even if at moments I would like to refresh my French by chatting with my computer.

Dory
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Griffin



Joined: 09 Jun 2006
Posts: 932
Location: England

PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 7:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love Clotilde's writing in English, but as a Briton I notice more American idioms, probably from your time in California, Clotilde. I remember still when we met at the launch of your first book that you said how versatile you found English.

Ironically, as a Briton, I love French! I love the poets like Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Mallarme and even Christine de Pisan's poems, tho' I struggle a bit with that old French!! I really wish I was fluent in it.

That's not to say that I don't love English, after all I'm a huge Shakespeare fan and I grew up with the literature of Britain and fell in love with it. But there are so many great texts out there that are not in English and I admit to being greedy. I want to know all of them in the original!!
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Roseanne



Joined: 08 Jul 2011
Posts: 1
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello,

I agree as well. When I first visited this blog and read Clotilde's biography, the first thing I took note of was her excellent grammer. My husband grew up in France, specifically in Biarritz-Bayonne and Paris. He studied English in College and has lived in the U.S. for over 20 years. His spoken English is perfect but he does not have command of the English grammer Clotilde demonstrates in this blog. Face it Clotilde, you are just a talented woman - in more than one way.

Now as far as my French. I would say it is mediocre. I have not had any formal training. When my husband and I were first married, I bought a French/English dictionary and gave myself vocabulary lessons. I must mention the first words I learned were food related as I would write our weekly grocery list in French. Our many travels to France and Morocco have helped the development of my French comprehension and phonetics. As mentioned earlier, the best way to learn a language is to live it. I would say my French improved immensly after we spent close to a year living in Marseille in 2003.

We are planning a trip this fall which includes a weekend in Paris in October. My mother is coming with us on her first trip abroad. It is going to be so much fun showing her around the city and seeing how she reacts to this new cultural experience.

Thank you, Clotilde, for all your tips on notable eateries to visit in Paris.
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Griffin



Joined: 09 Jun 2006
Posts: 932
Location: England

PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just noticed what you're reading Clotilde. I love Dumas anyway, but The Count of Monte Cristo made a huge impression on me when I first read it.
You've reminded me that I'll have to re-read it. I would love to read it in the original French, if only I was good enough.

At the moment I'm reading Maggie O'Farrell's book 'The hand that first held mine' which is beautifully written. Almost as comparable as my heroine Colette or even Katharine Mansfield.

In fact, Colette's Claudine novels might be a good lot to follow Dumas.
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clotilde
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Joined: 24 Sep 2004
Posts: 443
Location: Paris, France

PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 3:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So glad you noticed, Griffin!

It is, I think, my favorite book in the whole entire world. I devoured it for the first time fifteen years ago (while I was supposed to be studying for the baccalauréat, the French high school graduation exam Smile) and I am now re-reading it on the Kindle, having downloaded it from this great free french ebooks site.

I cannot put it down, it's such a fantastic adventure story, so well written, so clever, so full of unexpected developments.
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madameshawshank



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Penrith (where jacarandas remind me of change), New South Wales, Australia

PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2011 6:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many's the time I've thought of Clotilde dancing with English...such a dance!
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Griffin



Joined: 09 Jun 2006
Posts: 932
Location: England

PostPosted: Fri Nov 25, 2011 9:51 am    Post subject: Clotilde's beautiful English Reply with quote

It's one of my favourites along with the Three Musketeers series. My favourite book ever is a tricky one... so many books, so little time!! But one of my top five would definitely be the Gormenghast trilogy, which is utterly weird and fabulously written... even if you do have to stick with it a while to get lost in it.

I would love to see some short stories written by you tho'... if of course, you ever get the time to sit and just write.
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