Thursday, April 9, 2009

French Zealots

The French are fanatical about their language hence, my aversion to adopting the native language of the land. Reason being I generally don't support zealotry in any form. 

Case in point the follow sign was posted in the elevators of my office building:

Version 2 After Modifications

Version 3 After Further Modifications

Little does the red penned zealot know that accents on capitalized words are optional


Jennie said...

LOL Maybe he's Quebecois?

BebeJardin said...

Wow, I don't even know what to say about that! I was expecting some inappropiate use of letters to create a curse word of something, but not grammar fixes! Geez...

Anait said...

Haha i was going to say, they're right, there does need to be an accent there.....then I saw Jennie's comment and realized it is just because I'm Quebecoise. I didn't know the French didn't accent capitalized words....hmmmmmm

wcs said...

And he/she didn't get them all, either. Hence my personal rule:

Never correct somebody else's grammar. You will always make a mistake and look foolish.

David said...

-Anait: technically, in French French, capitalized letters should be accentuated too, even though few French people know that (it's more a typography rule than a language rule). On the other hand, when the whole text is in caps, I wouldn't accentuate anything.

-Etrangere Americaine: You got to understand that this need to correct everything comes from some brainwashing we get in school.
Now, even if I can't stand to see spelling or grammatical mistakes in printed material (or in text messages, e-mails, whatever that is addressed to me), I think it's pretty rude to correct anonymously somebody this way. Especially a "gardien" who's most likely never got much education.

And sure linguistic zealotry should be avoided, but behaviors such as French teenagers today who can't spell anything because they've never opened a book in their life, or such as educated Americans whose spelling are terrible for reasons that escape me (especially because English is one of the easiest language to spell) are not acceptable either.

Also, this is not an appropriate excuse to not learn the language (actually, I think there's no excuse for not learning the local language of the place where one lives). :-)

L'Étrangère Americaine said...

David truth of the matter is that I'm not quite intelligent enough to learn French. Hence, I find any possible excuse out there to avoid it; hence this post.

Ken Broadhurst said...

David, I disagree with you when you say English spelling is so easy. If it were, the "spelling bee" wouldn't be such a big deal in America. C'est un peu notre dictée de Bernard Pivot.

Jasmine, I know you can learn French. But it's a very long process and you have to be willing to make a million mistakes a day for many years. French people are not any more intelligent than anybody else. And look how many non-French people (in Africa, to give one example) learn French. The problem is that it's very hard to learn a language after the age of 12 or so. Bon courage. Ken

David said...

Ken sorry to disappoint you, but compare English with pretty much any other language, it has one of the easiest spelling (no agreement, no conjugation, very logical in many ways, few exceptions, etc, etc)
When I first arrived in the US, I couldn't understand what the deal was with spelling bees, they really seemed like a joke to me.
Later I understood: basic education is more than terrible in the US (to the point that so many people can't even spell their language while it's so easy to spell... and let's not even talk about general cultural knowledge such as history or geography).

And as far as learning languages are concerned, I'm not sure where you got that age 12 thing. But it's true that the older you get, the harder it is to learn a language.

Still, everybody's brain regardless of age (unless way too old) or intelligence (unless way stupid) can learn language in the proper conditions that basically are "being immersed in the language as much as possible" and for that Paris is the worst place to be when you want to learn French and are a native speaker.

Ken Broadhurst said...

Well, David, thanks for all the opinions. I've been reading your Ask a Frenchman blog. Did you go to school in the U.S.? I can see from your writing in English that you are at least not afraid to make a lot of mistakes!

The "age 12 thing" is based on psycholinguistic research into child language acquisition. At puberty people become much more self-conscious than they are before puberty, and you have to lose a lot of your self-consciousness in order to feel comfortable speaking a foreign language.

Actually, superior intelligence doesn't have much to do with language learning. Some of the stupidest people on earth are completely bilingual, for example.

I think I resent the comment about people who are "way too old."

David said...

Yes I went to school in the US. And not necessarily as a student. ;-)
Sorry if my mistakes in English bother you, but guess what, it's not my native language as you may be aware, and (I plead guilty about that part) I rarely take the time to reread what I write on my blogs (but I'm trying to fix that bad habit).

I'm not sure I want to tell you what I think about "language acquisition" research... oh hell, why not? So I think that most language acquisition research in the US is complete bullshit.
Example: determining an arbitrary age for the ability of learning languages based on social behavior and not on neurology (yes, that's my main gripe with language acquisition research, seeing how often they deal with brain stuff and they don't have the slightest knowledge of neurology and such).
The right answer is closer to something like this:
-The brain starts loses most of its ability to learn languages around age 6-9 (when one becomes fluent in one's mother tongue).
-Then, when you become an adult, it usually gets harder and harder, not really for brain development reasons (not mainly for that should I say) but simply because most people lose the habit of learning things after they're done with school. This last thing is only valid for learning a language in the "academic way" in a classroom, with a teacher, etc. If one uses the much better way of total immersion, adult or not, one learns the language and rather fast (usually 3-4 months to be able to understand the language properly, and about a year to be able to express oneself properly).

And sorry if you didn't like my "way too old" thing. I was trying to be politically correct for once (not being on my own blog right now and all), but if you'd rather me say "senile" I can if you want.

Ken Broadhurst said...

Thanks again for all the opinions, Dave. Remember, I'm American and therefore not very smart, and badly educated, to boot. Besides, at my age I'm probably senile too. Maybe L'Etrangère would rather we not use her blog to spout all these inanities. Bye now.

L'Étrangère Americaine said...

Oooh la la as they say in French ;) Who would have thought that this post would have sparked such a debate.

My comment about my intelligence level and ability to learn French was meant as a joke to diffuse any tensions. My main problem learning French has everything to do with my shyness when it comes to speaking. I honestly have a better level of the language than I give myself credit for but few have had a chance to experience it.

Ken & David: I encourage debate in the comments as long as we can all remain mature and respectful about it. :)

David said...

Ken, come on...
You're a grown up and you live in France...
You should by now have learned to not take things personally when it comes to debating (as well as being able to self-criticism).

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