Saturday, August 29, 2015

Cauchemar américain

Forgive me (or pity me): I just can't stay away from The Donald, even on a blog about (ostensibly) learning French.  Now, with France dealing with its own immigration nightmare that makes our southern border problem seem trivial, you might think that Trump's strong views on the subject might get him a sympathetic ear over there.

Perhaps from Marine Le Pen's National Front party it might (although it should be noted that the party recently expelled the founder -- Marine's father --- for his too-radical views on immigration), but here's the take on Trump from the newspaper Libération:

Le Cauchemar américain

I'll save you the trouble of running to Google Translate. The headline translates as "The American nightmare"

That's nothing: Thursday they called him "a nutcase." The French are nothing if not direct. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

A note to my fans in Europe and Asia

To those of you in France and other counties who've not been able to reach my website,, I'm happy to say that the problem has been fixed. If you haven't visited, you'll find information on all my books, links to my New York Times and LA Times op-eds, reviews and interviews, as well as behind-the-scenes features, such as photographs of the other-wordly Abbaye St-Wandrille in Normandy, where as described in 52 Loaves, this American non-believer taught French monks to bake French bread (strange but true!) and jousted with God (stranger but true!).

Plus, for fans of The $64 Tomato, photos of my garden, recipes, and more.

Et maintenant, il marche de la France, aussi!

Friday, August 14, 2015

French to Trump English After All!

Vive la langue française ! Just when everyone thought French was going to be overshadowed by English (and possibly Chinese), crunching the numbers reveals that French may the world's most commonly spoken language by 2050, or the as French news site France 24 puts it, "the language of Molière will eclipse the language of Shakespeare."

How is this possible? you ask. Well, thanks to its history as a colonial power, French is still widely spoken in some of the fastest-growing counties in Africa:  Mali in the north, and Guinea, Chad and Democratic Republic of Congo in the sub-Saharan region, not counting North African countries such as Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria.

The $64 Tomato -- I mean, question, is, does having the numbers mean having the influence? Je crois que non, because, to be quite honest, the language that children are speaking in a village in Chad doesn't much affect what they call "wi-fi" in France (it' "wi-fi," but adoringly pronounced "wee-fee."

So, the French may take some solace in their numbers, but they can only wistfully imagine a French-speaking world - which we'd in fact have had today if the French hadn't lost (yet another) war to the British -- this one in, yes, the New World, back in the 1700s.

Damn you, King George!

More fun and facts about French in my NY Times bestselling book, Flirting with French.

(And admit it, you read this piece because you thought I was writing about Donald Trump again!)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Is Trump more sexist than the French language?

Pity the Donald (or don't...), whose remarks about women are gaining him regular tongue-lashings by even the conservative press (and also...hmmm...headlines), but imagine the reception he'd get if he started referring to his wife as "my woman." As in, "Ask my woman Melania if I'm a sexist pig." Well, that is precisely how Frenchmen refer to their wives, because the French do not have a dedicated word for "wife": Femme means both "woman" and "wife."

Note that there is a dedicated word for husband -- mari.  But there is none for "wife." Same is true of son and daughter, by the way. Were he French (hello, France, he's yours if you want him!) Donald would use the same word for Ivanca Trump as he'd use for the girl who polishes his shoes six times a day: fille.

In Flirting with French I relate a conversation I had with a Frenchwoman about this very topic -- and the most amazing part is that she had never realized it until I mentioned it!  

Vive la France ! Vive la différence !

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Summer school: Vous/Tu flowchart

Without question, the most popular feature of Flirting with French is my Vous/Tu flowchart, designed to assist you in determining whether to use the formal or familiar form of "you" in French. The chart also appeared as an LA Times Bastille Day op-ed; however, it wasn't until the French newspaper Le Monde picked it up that it gained notoriety, garnering 35,000 Facebook links in the first day alone!

Since August is the perfect month for catching up, here is it again, for those of you who missed it  (and who haven't realized it's been sitting on this blog as a sidebar for a year). Click on the graphic below to view the LA Times version, or click here for a downloadable PDF. Bon courage!