Wednesday, March 16, 2022

French I Learned from The Paris Apartment

You can learn something from a book, even books you don't really like all that much.

I just finished The Paris Apartment. I didn't really like it all that much, but I got a chance to practice a little French for my upcoming trip abroad.

First of all, this is a grown-up book. And it's a thriller. So, as you might expect, the most common French words spoken in the book are curse words. And I'm not going to translate them here. Because if you are a grown-up and you know French, you probably need no translation. I'm not a fan of curse words. So I'm skipping them. Well, okay, here's a couple: Putain. Merde. Sometimes both of these together. They are on almost every page. If you don't know them, you will pick them up fast without my help. 

There are also a lot of words that you probably know even if you've never studied French. Oui. Monsieur. Bonjour. Non. Salut. D'accord. S'il vous plait. Excuse-moi. Merci. No need for translation here. 

Some you can figure out from their similarity to English. Alcoholique. Charmant. Enchanté. Comprenez-vous? So do you? Comprenez-vous?

Let me share a few phrases in French from the book that I'd like to know and use. And I'm carefully choosing words that only hint at the plot, because who wants a spoiler, even for a disappointing book. Instead of defining these. I'll share the context. The author (and I found this very annoying, as it doesn't seem natural) adds the definition to French words and phrases that might not familiar to the casual reader, within the story. Here we go...

Ça va?   '"Ça va?" he asks. Then, in English: "Are you OK? I came to get my laundry and I heard---"'

Qu-est-ce queue tu veux?   '"Qu-est-ce queue tu veux?" the stranger asks, looking irritated, then: "What do you want?"'  

Je ne sais pas.   '"I'm getting this," he said, holding up his record. "The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. You like them?" I shrugged, "Je ne sais pas." I'd never heard of them.'

Okay, and then there are lots of words and phrases I don't think I'll need to know in French. Let's hope I don't have to use these...

Tu ne feras rien de la sorte.   'His arm shot out; his hand gripped her wrist, hard. The wine glass in her hand jerked, a crimson splash landed on the pale knit of her dress. "Non," he said. "Tu ne feras rien de la sorte." You'll do no such thing.'  

Qu'est-ce qui se passe?     '"Qu'est-ce qui se passe?" he asks, dangerously, quietly, as he begins moving toward us. What are you doing down here?'

Ferme ta gueule.     '"Ferme ta gueule." Shut your mouth. I take a step toward him. The anger is sudden, blinding. And when I'm next aware of what I'm doing I realize my hand is around his throat and his eyes are bulging."

That's probably enough...

Wish me luck in France. Bon chance. I'm flying out in two weeks. 

For more wordless photos, go to Wordless Wednesday.

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered, or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative! It was first created by Kathy over at Bermuda Onion and is now hosted at Elza Reads.

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