Schedule Overkill

Back to the daily grind for me and Sheila. We got up at our usual (though not customary as of late) 10 AM for breakfast and getting ready for class, then headed off to Sweet Briar at noon. Kyle and Joan were getting out of class and wanted to get lunch, so I went with them while Sheila had her class. We went to the Carrefour Express nearby, but Joan didn’t want anything there, and opted instead for the formule étudiant at a bagel place we pass on the way to Carrefour or Monoprix from Sweet Briar: a bagel and a drink for 6,80 or a salad and a drink for 8,80. I got the salad one (a Greek salad), which was really good! It took me forever to eat it by the time we made it back to Sweet Briar. We’ll have to remember that deal, it worked out well. Over our meal, we talked a lot about Election Day. The three of us seemed to have voted the same way for the President at least, though we do have different views on some of the issues, which was very refreshing. I like to pride myself on being capable of having political discussions without losing friends, for the most part. We talked a lot about health care since that’s my current “hot button” issue. Depending on how the election goes and how health care is dealt with in the next few years, I may need to leave the United States and live in a country that will actually give me health insurance (let alone not charging me an arm and a leg for it)…

I managed to forget my notebook for Atelier d’Écriture on my desk this morning. Part of the reason for that was because I forgot to add a lesson from last week onto the blog… Here’s that part: We think we know how to say we need something in French. We’ve all been taught avoir besoin de. That being said, how would you say “I need your help?” J’ai besoin de ton aide. That’s absolutely correct. It follows the formula avoir besoin de + nom. Here’s where we start to mess things up. How would you say “I need to buy some bread?” We attempt to use the same formula (avoir besoin de + infinitif) and we get J’ai besoin d’achèter du pain. Grammatically correct. Absolutely wrong. Why? Using that particular structure is incredibly strong. If you use that structure, the tone is “life or death need.” So if you’ve had a fight with your boyfriend and you really need to talk to him, then you can use avoir besoin de + infinitif. What do you do when all you need to do is buy bread? Use devoir + infinitif or put it in the subjunctive. Going back to our bread, the proper way to say “I need to buy some bread” without sounding like you’re starving to death is Je doit achèter du pain. On another note, make sure you know the difference between rapide and vite. The first one is an adjective, the second is an adverb. Rapide does NOT work with anything related to distance either. You can’t say someone swims or runs rapide. Also, vitement IS NOT A WORD. Back to today’s actual lesson. I wrote all this down on regular paper, then copied it into my notebook. In English, we’ll say things like “the more I… the more I…” (and conversely, “the less I… the less I…” or a mix of the two) but it’s a little different in French. When asked to translate something like “The more I see him, the more I love him,” most of us translate it as Le plus que je le vois, le plus que je l’aime. This is all kinds of wrong. To accurately translate that phrase, think of your English phrase like this: More I see him, more I love him. Go back your French phrase, and knock off your articles and your que. The correct phrase is Plus je le vois, plus je l’aime. It works for less (moins) and you can mix them up (like saying “the more she explains, the less I understand” plus elle explique, moins je comprend). To add a little more force, put “and” (et) in the beginning of the second part of your sentence. We learned a little idiomatic expression during this part of the lesson as well. Ever used “out of sight, out of mind” before? It’s slightly tweaked in French. The direct translation is “far from the eyes, far from the heart.” Loin des yeux, loin du coeur. Moving on… How do you say “what did you do with my dictionary?” Sounds easy enough. Most of us translate this as qu’est-ce que tu as fait avec mon dictionnaire? Wrong. The word for “with” IS avec, but not in this case. The expression here is faire quelque chose DE quelque chose/quelqu’un. Try it out. What’s “Look at what you did with our love.” Regarde ce que tu as fait de notre amour. What about a good phrase for parents to know: What are you going to do with your life? Qu’est ce que tu va faire de ta vie? Another good one for parents to know… What am I going to do with you? Qu’est ce que je vais faire de toi? Note on that one… it might sound a little funny. When you’re saying DE toi, it’s “with you.” If it sounds like “to you,” it’s not. That’s à toi. Keep in mind, when you’re dealing with people in this case, you’re dehumanizing them when you use de. When you’re talking about a person and they’re actually a person (as in your friend was in town, what all did you do with her), this is when you’re supposed to use faire quelque chose AVEC quelqu’un. This next phrase has TWO lessons in it. How would you translate “I don’t have any maps of Paris, but I can give you a map of France if you’d like.” Remember a while ago how some bum asked me if I had any tickets and I said “Je n’ai aucun?” I used it again here. My translation was Je n’ai aucun plans de Paris, mais je peut te donner une carte de France s’il te veut. We’ll start with the “map” lesson first. Notice how I used two different words. If you’re talking about a city or smaller (or if it’s a metro map, for example), your map is un plan. If it’s bigger, that map is une carte. I got that part right. Some of you might have your “article red flags” up. France is feminine. Shouldn’t it be une carte de la France? Sure, if you want it to be. That’s the more correct way to word it, but saying une carte de France is more idiomatic. One grammatical thing before I get to the big part of this lesson, if you’re using aucun, when you’re supposed to use it, it’s never followed by de, it’s always followed directly by the noun. It’s also always singular. Now for the lesson: I shouldn’t have used aucun at all. Why? It’s too strong of a phrase. I was probably right to use it with that stupid bum a while back, but this wasn’t the time for it. That being said, what’s the appropriate way to say “I don’t have any?” Je n’ai pas de. Here, you need that de. The first part of our original sentence should be Je n’ai pas de plans de Paris… Mon Dieu this is a lot of grammar. One more lesson, then we’re done for the day. How do you say “We got on the plane at 2PM” and “We got off the train at Lyon.” I’ll give you both of the correct phrases right off the bat: Nous sommes montés dans l’avion à 14h. Nous sommes descendus du train à Lyon. This got us a big lesson on verbs of movement, and when we have to use être or avoir with them as auxiliary verbs. You probably already know about verbs of movement and how to know when to use être, that’s the Dr. Mrs. P. Vandertramp mnemonic. Better yet: just remember that you use être in the passé composé when you have to move yourself. Il est monté dans sa chambre. There’s another case when you’ll use être, however, and that’s in the case those sentences came from: moyens de transport. You’ll only ever use monter ou descendre in this case, and you have to use them a certain way. You monter dans something (in the case of something enclosed like a train or a metro car, but you monter sur a tree or a boat), or you descendre de (du/des) something. Believe it or not, you can use avoir with these verbs. With a verb of movement, you use avoir in the passé composé when you’re dealing with a direct object. Tricks for finding the direct object? You got it. Let’s look at this fragment: fermer la porte. Notice how the verb makes direct contact with the noun. Direct object. Another way. Fermer quoi? La porte! Done. Il a monté sa valise à sa chambre. If you’re ever dealing with steps or stairs (l’éscalier/les éscaliers ou la marche/les marches), you use avoir. Il a monté les marches. Last one. When you talk about roads, you have to take note if the road is on some kind of a hill, or if it’s flat. If the road is flat, you’ll say prendre la rue. If it’s a slanted road, you either remonter (go up) or descendre (go down) the road. Mme. Mellado told us that she always thought the song “Pretty Woman” had to do with a slanted road, and the woman in the song was walking “downhill” since the lyrics say “pretty woman walking down the street.”

I never want to do another grammar lesson on my blog ever again after that. There will be another on Thursday. I hope to god it isn’t that long.

I headed right home after class to get a few things ready before Sheila and I ate a quick early dinner to go see Dom Juan at Comédie Française. Madame had prepared a little salad plate for us earlier this morning, and she’d shredded the chicken from last night off of the bones for us to eat. We heated that up with the leftover gluten-free pasta from this weekend as well. We left right when Madame walked in. I mentioned that I’d remember I was supposed to go to a spectacle du danse tomorrow night with Sweet Briar, and I’d forgotten all about it until I saw a reminder in the office earlier today. I said I could get dinner tomorrow outside of the house if I had to. I wasn’t at all clear on what she wanted me to do… maybe there will still be some leftover things I can nab tomorrow… who knows? The metro was terribly packed for some reason, Sheila and I were surfing for the entire ride to the theatre. Dom Juan was really good, and we noticed that a former prime minister (under Jacques Chirac) was at the theatre when we were. I was a little sleepy, so I was kind of nodding off for the first part of the show (the part that I had actually managed to read), but once we’d come to a point in the play that I hadn’t actually read, I was able to stay awake. The sets were very minimal, but versatile. I made a lot of mental notes for when I do my senior project back home, and for when I do my set design for my final project here.

Sheila and I got home at midnight. Hardly any of the election results were in. I figure more will be up by the time I wake up… six hours from now… this is going to be a long next couple of days… Whose idea was it to put a show for class on a Tuesday night when I have to get up so dang early?! I’m planning on visiting the 5th arrondissement tomorrow afternoon with a couple of my friends. My family dug up some documents that places my great-great-grandparents (and my great-great-great-grandparents) in Paris about 117 years ago… talk about visiting old stomping grounds…

La perfidie est noble envers la tyrannie. Corneille: Cinna

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s