Le? La? Oh La La!

Good morning to all in the World of Blog :O) I have a question for you: how many of you guys have taken it upon yourselves to learn a second language? Most of us were forced into it a school, endlessly counting to 10, learning how to say ‘the monkey is in the tree’ or this is the cauliflower of my Aunt but how many of you have tried as adults? It’s not easy is it?

Good morning to all in the World of Blog :O) I have a question for you: how many of you guys have taken it upon yourselves to learn a second language? Most of us were forced into it a school, endlessly counting to 10, learning how to say ‘the monkey is in the tree’ or this is the cauliflower of my Aunt but how many of you have tried as adults? It’s not easy is it?

As many of you know, I am English but I live in the South of France. This means that I have had to try and get my head around the French language as I need to be able to buy stuff to eat, find out where the toilets are and order a glass of wine (or three). Now, I’m the first to admit that I can be a bit of an airhead at times but I am pretty logical so I have looked for patterns in the French language and it has served me well except when it comes to ‘le’ and ‘la’, the masculine and feminine. For those of you who don’t know, every single noun in French has been given a sex and for those of us who have grown up with asexual words, it can make life a little tricky.

As is my wont I decided to apply some logic and figured that there must be some words that have to be feminine because the words are female specific and vice versa; big mistake! This will give you an idea of what I am up against:

The word for ‘beard’ is ‘la barbe’. Yes ‘la’ which means that the word is feminine. Now whilst I accept that, as we get older especially, some women are prone to the odd stray chin hair there are very few of us who will ever sport full mutton chops whereas men have no trouble at all in this department so why oh why is the word feminine???

On the other hand the word for ‘bra’ is ‘le soutien-gorge’. Why? OK, many men enjoy taking bras off and I’m sure there are some who enjoy putting them on but, as a general rule it’s women who own the boobs and therefore women who need the bras, non?

This leads me on to lipstick; hands up guys out there who wear lipstick on a daily basis…..and now the women….right, based on those numbers ‘lipstick’ should be a feminine word yes? Wrong! It’s ‘le rouge a levres’

Added to this, the French also have a few phrases that I am convinced were introduced to the language for the sole purpose of embarrassing foreigners. The worst of these will be likely to trip you up in the middle of summer when temperatures have risen and you are sweating your socks off. Quite naturally, in English we say, ‘I’m hot’ and people will either agree with you or tell you to stop moaning about the weather because you know damn well it will be raining next week. The literal translation for this is French is:

Je (I) suis (am) chaude (hot)

crowd-shockedUnfortunately, this means ‘I am horny’. This simple error will lead to raised eyebrows, hopeful looks or great hilarity depending on who’s company you’re in when you say it! The correct expression is:

J’ai chaude, the literal translation for which is ‘I have hot’.

Having made many such grammatical errors (including saying ‘I was rogered senseless’ when I wanted to say ‘I got off [the motorbike]’, just don’t ask) I decided to pick my best friend’s brain in an attempt to figure out the logic behind all this. His reply was a typically Gallic shrug and ‘The Academie Francaise’ decides’.

“Yes but how do they decide?”

“They decide because they decide it is like that”

And with that I have to be satisfied until the men in their Eiffel towers decide to offer any kind of logical explanation.

All that said, I adore the French language and learning it is a really fun challenge, not just for me but my French friends too ;O)

I’d love to hear about your experiences with foreign languages so please feel free to comment

Lisa x


Author: All About Life

Middle-aged 20 something

33 thoughts on “Le? La? Oh La La!”

  1. I really wanna learn Japanese, I’ve been an anime lover since I was a kid and I told myself when I grow up, I will learn how to speak the language, but I don’t know, it never did happen. I am speaking two languages. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I spent five years ‘doing’ French at high school in Australia when Greek and Italian would have been far more use; I only ever met one French migrant! I still don’t know what happened to Le Petit Prince as I never got to the end of the story. Our little trips to France haven’t given me much practice, but on our week’s holiday last year we stayed in a couple of farmhouses where nobody spoke English – my chance to practise. My husband who never learned a word is now under the misapprehension I can speak French quite well because I managed to find out what time breakfast was…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ha ha Lisa. When I was in Brammar School (no, nothing to do with grammar at all,) we did French. One memorable (well, to me, anyway) day, the teacher (a rather whiney woman married to a rather lovely English teacher) used a particular word which I cannot remember much about but might have been “Chateau” and asked us if we owned one. *Stupud question anyway in my,opinion as we were only 14 years old. She was asking if we owned one in the country, and I latched onto that bit because my grandparents owned a FARM in the country. Excitedly I put my hand up and said that my grandparents did. She proceeded to ask me questions about it, and I responded, telling her all about the chickens and cattle and dogs and cats, and growing wheat and the harvest, all to the ever increasing level of titters from the rest of the class. She began to get sarcastic about it, to everyone else’s laughter, and I just carried on, unknowingly. I wondered why the laughter. She pushed and pushed and pushed it, getting ever more sarcastic (horrible woman ) until finally she said, “Oh, so your grandparents own a castle in the country! I almost died! ,and I STILL can’t remember the word for castle – or farm for that matter! I HATED that teacher. Lol

    Liked by 1 person

  4. In Spanish, all the -ma words (carcinoma, melanoma, etc) are from the Greek and are automatically masculine. Which runs counter to the general rule that words ending in “a” are usually feminine.
    I was started in Spanish classes in 3rd grade (1979) and continued through 10th grade. Then I took Latin for 2 years. Then I went full blown crazy (addiction) and forgot most of it. I majored in Spanish when I got clean & went for my college degree, and I’m pretty sure my incessant questions about stuff like “why is fantasma masculine when it ends with an ‘a’?” The professor hit me with that bit about the Greek words.

    I had to take 3 semesters of another foreign language to get my degree, so I went with french. It’s a romance language, originating from Latin, so hypothetically it should be similar to Spanish or Italian or Portuguese, right?

    Yeah, not so much. For every grammar rule in French, there are exceptions. For all those exceptions, there are exceptions to the exception. It’s mind boggling.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Unless not imbibed in you during early days in life learning language is hard. I manage four language beside English the other three are Indian. My son is learning French and daughter Spanish. Loved some of the tit bits of the French language you presented. Particularly the lipstick one 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  6. They made me take Latin for 2 years in high school, because I was really good at languages. And ya know, Latin comes in so handy. … Actually, it does, when doing crosswords or watching the annual spelling bee on TV. I’ve taken 2+ years of Spanish and am focusing on that now, for a trip to Spain in a few years. I love French, and my accent is pretty good. But reading it — I’m like, what are all those letters for if most of them don’t make a sound?!?!?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can see how learning Latin would be useful when learning other languages and that’s great you’re learning Spanish now too 😊 yes reading French and conversing in it are two completely different things 😊 x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My priority is always know enough to ask for beer😄. Holiday, yes😄😄. Your post was so funny. I could never get my head round the ‘Le’ and ‘La’ thing in French at school.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. My mother is vietnamese and I still have trouble with the language. My wife is mexican and i’m learning spanish. It’s much easier than vietnamese!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I took five years of French in high school and college, but that was many moons ago and some of my ability had become rusty or outright broken. However, I’ve been studying Spanish for the last two years, and it’s been interesting to see how much of the French has come back along with that. Romance languages ARE somewhat similar, but it can also be dangerous to depend on those similarities..,

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I loved this! Aren’t languages fascinating! What strikes me, though, is how often they’re also interesting looks into the culture and history of a place. I had studied Spanish in Grades 6-12, but have turned my attention (thanks to living abroad these past few years) to Chinese. Living here, it’s more than necessary to have at least the basics in hand. And this language, while very difficult, is also steeped in little things like what you’ve noticed! Especially their written language – the origin of Chinese characters paints such a picture of their culture.

    Anyway, loved your post! Will tune in again!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you I’m glad you liked it 😊
      Yes I agree, other languages and cultures are very interesting. I congratulate you on learning Chinese, I understand it’s very difficult! Thanks once again for your comment and for stopping by 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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