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December 2006 - Posts

  • Home in Bloomington for New Years

    Am I ever glad to be back! As much as I like going home to see my family each year at Christmas, once I hit that one week mark I am very ready to go home. My trips always end up being a marathon of running from one end of the city to the other in order to see every family member and friend that I need to see, while making sure not to let any one person feel "under visited". I always say that when I get back, I'm going to need a vacation from my vacation. I guess that's pretty ridiculous when you think about it, because I don't really know how to relax anyway. I would just probably sit around the house trying to figure out things to do (like I have been doing since I got back to Bloomington) and end up watching marathons of Law and Order, CSI:Miami, and America's Next Top Model. Sure, it's nice to loaf around on the couch for the whole day, but then I feel like I wasted an entire day of my life when I finally peel myself away from the television. Ya know, that's the problem with season marathons...once you watch the first few episodes of the show, you're pretty much stuck watching the entire thing. The next thing you know, it's ten hours later and you realize you're still in your pajamas and needing to get ready for the day. Ah well...but like I said, I'm very glad to get back to a place where I have my own vehicle, my own bed, and my own computers. I never realized how much I missed wireless internet either, until I didn't have it available to me in New York. Strangely enough, I missed my books...not that I had any special hankering to read any particular book, but just seeing them and knowing that they are there. My books are kinda like my pride and joy I guess. So I'm back in B-town for New Year's eve...not that anyone else is, besides my roommate and one other friend who will be coming over to our place for the evening to hang out and be lazy and have some tasty beverages before the ball drops. But then, it'll be back to another week of doing pretty much nothing before the big day comes to go back to school on the 8th of January. I do have my French to keep me occupied, but there is only really so much I can possibly review before I start to go crazy. I'm sure I'll just have to give up studying at some point during the week, and then just hope for the best on Friday at the test.

    Posted Dec 31 2006, 04:28 PM by christophergreen with no comments
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  • Lots of articles

    You may remember from quite a while ago (probably before I started classes this past Fall semester) that I like to collect language and linguistics-related articles that I find on the various internet news sources and talk about them. I like to do this, because material from my particular subject area doesn't really fall into the category of mainstream news all that often, so when it does I like to at least make sure you all are hearing about it. Over the past several months, I've amassed quite a collection of these articles, but I really haven't had the time to sit down and read through a lot of them well enough to post on them. The ones that I actually did a chance to sit down and read (way back when), I don't recall enough about them to post on them. Notice the trend and the problem? So much that I want to do, so few hours in the day. But anyways, the point of me telling you all about this is that I do have these articles, and I will read them, and I will post on them, just as soon as I have a few minutes where I'm motivated to do so. There is a lot of stuff coming up at the beginning of the semester that I need to take care of, so I don't want to bite off more than I can chew right off the bat. I like to see what each class is going to be like before I go ahead and figure out how stressed I'm going to be for the semester. Of course, as you know, I kinda strive on being stressed out, and I really work well under pressure, so I'm ready for the challenge.
    Posted Dec 30 2006, 04:20 PM by christophergreen with no comments
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  • Chatting with my cousin

    I only really get the chance to see my family and friends from home once or twice a year, but in actuality I get to see my cousins on my dad's side of the family at most once, since they live in other parts of the country and the world. My one cousin is in graduate school at UC-San Diego, and my other cousin works in Barcelona, Spain. It's always pretty interesting when we all get together at Christmas, since all four of us (the two of them, myself, and my brother) since we're all involved in different things and have different interests, but we always manage to find common ground. It's especially interesting, because we're all (with the exception of my brother) involved with something linguistic in our studies although we are all in different fields.

    I really end up related very well with my cousin Beth who lives in Barcelona. She went to school to play softball but then ended up majoring in Spanish and international business, as well as learning Portuguese on the side. She and I definitely have some common ground, since we have really diverse interests but they end up coming back down to language. I was really excited to learn that she has decided to begin learning French, in addition to the classes that she has been taking in Catalan. She ended up getting one of those Berlitz-esque learning French sets with books and cds for Christmas from my grandparents, and although I don't think that those are the best products out there, for someone who already has a lot of language experience, I think that she can probably make it work. I was pleasantly surprised to hear her describe the way that she likes to learn languages...with structure and grammar first, rather than just learning my fumbling through conversation. That's exactly the way that I prefer to learn languages myself. We made plans to email one another and practice her French, and maybe I can even practice my slightly rusty Spanish. Our families have always said that you could drop us four grandchildren anywhere in the world, and with the languages that we know between us, we could find our way. Sounds like fun to me!

    Posted Dec 30 2006, 01:39 AM by christophergreen with no comments
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  • Finding time to write at home

    I always forget how difficult it really is to keep up a successful blog that you are so accustomed to writing in every single day when you don't have the same access to a computer as you're used and the time to write when you're on a vacation. Well, here I am on Christmas vacation up in Syracuse, New York, desperately trying to find some time to plop myself in front of the computer long enough to write about something relatively interesting. Couple all this with the fact that I'm not really doing anything all too exciting and related to linguistics whil I'm hanging out up with my family for the winter break. It's for this reason that I've been trying my best to write a lot about all the French things that I've been studying, since that is the one thing that I promised myself that I would concentrate on over the break. I've been sitting down for a while in front of the television and before going to bed trying to read through random French books and grammar reviews that I've brought along with me in order to get myself prepared for the graduate reading proficiency exam that I have to take the week after I get back to Bloomington. It's not the end of the world if I don't pass the exam, but I would likely end up pretty disappointed if that turns out to be the case. I've definitely spent a lot of time working on reviewing all this French stuff, and considering the fact that I have relatively little formal training in the language, I would say that I'm doing pretty darn well. I actually feel very confident about my abilities in the language, but then I see some of the others who have gotten degrees in French and are even in the French linguistics program at IU, and I get a little bit nervous. That's the perfectionist in my coming out again though. I still have a little bit of time, so I'm just going to hope for the best and keep my fingers crossed.
    Posted Dec 29 2006, 01:28 AM by christophergreen with no comments
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  • Something a little bit different, the future anterior

    Well, here we are with something that may sound a little bit strange to you. The future anterior tense isn't exactly something that we talk a lot about as native speakers of English. It surely isn't anything that I really recall ever hearing about in high school or even in my few English classes that I had to take when I was in my undergrad. I really didn't hear anything about it until my third semester of French, which ended up being my last semester of undergrad. It's not that the idea of how to use or form the future anterior is all that difficult, it just sounds a little bit funny if you're not used to it. So, what about this future anterior, right? What is it all about? Well, if we wanted to talk about somthing that is going to happen in the future but will have finished before something else in the future, we would employ the future anterior to express this. For example, I could say "I will have finished my homework, when you arrive home", that would use the future anterior for the form of "finish". The possibilities for sample sentences are pretty much endless, just as they are with anything else. The way that we form the future anterior in French is very similar to the way that we formed the other compound tenses. This time, we will use the future indicative form of the appropriate auxiliary verb combined with the (you guessed it) past participle of the main verb. Here are your examples...

    parler (to speak) - j'aurai parl�, tu auras parl�, il/elle aura parl�, nous aurons parl�, vous aurez parl�, ils/elles auront parl

    arriver ( to arrive) - je serai arriv�(e), tu seras arriv�(e), il/elle sera arriv�(e), nous serons arriv�(e)s, vous serez arriv�(e)s, ils/elles seront arriv�(e)s

    I think that you get the point by now about how things works for the "big three", so I won't bore you with listing all of them. Next up is one of the most difficult concepts when learning French. It's that pesky subjunctive...something that we have in English, but we don't use it nearly as much as we do in French. If you can get the subjunctive under your belt, it just becomes like second nature when it's time to use it. We'll look at that really soon.

    Posted Dec 27 2006, 09:25 PM by christophergreen with no comments
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  • The past conditional

    The last time we chatted, we looked for a little bit at our second compound tense, the pluperfect. Today, we'll continue on the trend of compound tenses and check out the past conditional. OK, yes you're right, the conditional was a mood, and therefore so is the past conditional. Of all the compound "tenses", the past conditional is probably the simplest to use. We can us the past conditional mood to express all those things that we used the present conditional for, but of course in the past. "I would have gone" "I should have gone" "I could have gone". Forming the past conditional is just a simple matter of combining the appropriate present tense conditional form of the auxiliary with the past participle of the main verb. Sounds familiar, right? I guess that this particular mood doesn't really need much more explaination then. Whatever might still be confusing about using and/or forming the past conditional will likely be cleared up with a few examples. So...here we go...

    parler (to speak) - j'aurais parl�, tu aurais parl�, il/elle aurait parl�, nous aurions parl�, vous auriez parl�, ils/elles auraient parl

    arriver (to arrive) - je serais arriv�(e), tu serais arriv�(e), il/elle serait arriv�e, nous serions arriv�(e)s, vous seriez arriv�(e)s, ils/elles seraient arriv�(e)s

    There you go with your examples of the past conditional mood with both of the different auxiliary verbs, but we need to explore our big three like we always do.

    etre (to be) - j'aurais �t�, tu aurais �t�, il/elle aurait �t�, nous aurions �t�, vous auriez �t�, ils/elles auraient �t

    avoir (to have) - j'aurais eu, tu aurais eu, il/elle aurait eu, nous aurions eu, vous auriez eu, ils/elles auraient eu

    and finally...

    aller (to go) - je serais all�, tu serais all�, il/elle serait all�(e), nous serions all�s, vous seriez all�s, ils/elles seraient all�(e)s

    Not too bad right? Try and get used to this one, since the last compound tense that we'll talk about is a little bit more difficult to grasp, since we don't really use it all that often in English. Good luck!

    Posted Dec 26 2006, 09:05 PM by christophergreen with no comments
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  • Welcome to the compound tenses

    Although this serves as our official introduction to the compound tenses, I've already actually mentioned one of them a few days ago. Do you remember which tense that we've already talked about that falls in this category? That's right, the passe compos�. Remember that we formed the PC by combining the appropriate present indicative form of the auxiliary verb (either avoir or etre) with the past participle of the main verb. That's what they mean by compound tenses, since we're combining verbs of two different forms together to make one "idea". The PC is a good place to start since is the easiest of the compound tenses to grasp.

    Today, we're going to branch out a little bit and use what we already know to talk about another one of the compound tenses, the pluperfect indicative (which I'll just refer to as the pluperfect for our purposes). Pluperfect, in French, is the plus-que-parfait...basically meaning "more than perfect". We haven't discussed the perfect tense, since it really isn't formally described in French. That won't stop us from comprehending what the pluperfect is all about though. So, the basic idea about the pluperfect is that it's another past tense that describes an action that has taken place at a point in time before another action in the past. I know that it sounds a little bit confusing, but if you take a second to look at a few examples, it will likely make a lot more sense.

    If I were to say, "By the time I arrived at the station, I had missed the train." The second verb in this sentence "miss" is in a pluperfect form, one that we can usually recognize by the presence of 'have' or 'had' preceding it. The idea is that the 'missing' of the train occurred at a time in the past before the past tense action of my 'arriving' at the station. How about a second example? OK..."I had already walked the dog when I saw that you had called." What's the story this time? Don't get confused now that I've switched the order of the verbs. The idea is that the "seeing" is the action that occurred in the nearer past, whereas my 'walking' of the dog and your 'calling' occurred at a more distant time in the past. Therefore, 'see' would be expressed in a simple past tense, and the other two verbs would be expressed using the pluperfect.

    It's pretty simple to form the pluperfect in French since we already know how to make a compound tense. In the case of the pluperfect, we use the proper imperfect form of the auxiliary verb this time, and then we just add on the past participle of our main verb again. It's as easy as that. I'll put some examples below that demonstrate this with the two different auxiliary verbs.

    parler (to speak) - j'avais parl�, tu avais parl�, il/elle avait parl�, nous avions parl, vous aviez parl�, ils/elles avaient parl

    arriver (to arrive) - j'�tais arriv�, tu �tais arriv�, il/elle �tait arriv�(e), nous �tions arriv�(e)s, vous �tiez arriv�(e)s, ils/elles �taient arriv�(e)s

    So how about a real life French example now that we know what we're doing?

    Quand je suis entr� la chambre, tu avais parl�. (When I entered the room, you had spoken.)

    or

    Il m'avait parl� avant de je suis retourn� chez moi. (He had called me before I returned home.)

    or finally

    J'avais ecout les mots que ma mere a dit. (I had heard the words that my mother spoke.)

    I think that's quite enough of the pluperfect, since I'm sure that you've gotten the point just fine. Try a few on your own!

    Posted Dec 25 2006, 08:47 PM by christophergreen with no comments
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  • Conditions on using the conditional mood

    Well, here we are on our last day to talk about the really easy stuff. It's time for us to address the verb forms for the conditional. And before you ask, no, the conditional is not a tense...it's a mood. That's why you'll be seeing me refer to it as such throughout this post and in the future. So anyways, what is this conditional mood all about? Well, it's not too difficult for native English speakers to grasp, since we readily can express the conditional and do so every day. Each time that we do a shoulda, woulda, coulda, we're dealing with the conditional mood.

    It works much the same way in French. The only difference is that French conjugates its verbs differently when expressing the conditional mood...big surprise, I know. Lucky for us, it is yet another one of the easier verb forms to learn, and the forms don't change much from verb to verb. I suppose that I'll give a few examples using the verbs that I've been employing for demonstration over my past few posts so that you all can get an idea of what the conditional mood looks like and how it compares to the other forms of the verb.

    parler (to speak) - je parlerais, tu parlerais, il/elle parlerait, nous parlerions, vous parleriez, ils/elles parleraient

    mentir (to lie) - je mentirais, tu mentirais, il/elle mentirait, nous mentirions, vous mentiriez, ils/elles mentiraient

    perdre (to lose) - je perdrais, tu perdrais, il/elle perdrait, nous perdrions, vous perdriez, ils/elles perdraient

    So these are the regular forms, so I suppose I should include etre, avoir, and aller just for the sake of continuity.

    etre (to be) - je serais, tu serais, il/elle serait, nous serions, vous seriez, ils/elles seraient

    avoir (to have) - j'aurais, tu aurais, il/elle aurait, nous aurions, vous auriez, ils/elles auraient

    aller (to go)- j'irais, tu irais, il/elle irait, nous irions, vous iriez, ils/ells iraient

    There you have it...the conditional mood...not too bad right? I think that for the time being, we'll skip over the other simple tenses that aren't used in conversation. I guess that it's appropriate that we tackle the subjunctive at some point soon since everyone hates it and very few people understand how and when to use it. Before we do that though, I think that it will be best to explore some of the compound tenses that will build off of what we have learned about the simple tenses over the past week.

    Posted Dec 24 2006, 05:15 PM by christophergreen with no comments
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  • How about the real future now?

    Here we go with yet another tense that really makes total tense to native speakers of English. It's the good ole future tense. Forget all this talk about all these different past tenses and funny names for all the things that we find really simple in English. Now we can focus, just for today, on a really simple concept that we can express with ease in both English and French. Just like English, we think of the future tense in French as "X will X". I will move my car. I will sing a song. I will talk to him this afternoon. Simple stuff...and with our good luck, you'll be happy to know that forming this tense is pretty simple as well. Lo and behold, we're going to have to revert back to our knowledge of our good friend avoir for a moment in order to conjugate for the future tense properly. Why is that, you ask? Well, to form the future, we start out with the infinitival form of the verb (for the regular verbs), and then we add an appropriate ending that corresponds to the present indicative form of avoir

    . This is of course most easily demonstrated with some examples, so if you'll allow me....

    parler (to speak) - je parlerai, tu parleras, il/elle parlera, nous parlerons, vous parlerez, ils/elles parleront

    mentir (to lie) - je mentirai, tu mentiras, il/elle mentira, nous mentirons, vous mentirez, ils/ells mentiront

    perdre (to lose) - je perdrai, tu perdras, il/elle perdra, nous perdrons, vous perdrez, ils/ells perdront

    So what about our three important friends, avoir, etre, and aller? As with most "irregular" verbs, their irregularity lies only in the stem that we use. The stem changes that occur for these three words, render them remarkable similar to Spanish...and you'll see what I mean.

    etre (to be) - je serai, tu seras, il/elle sera, nous serons, vous serez, ils/elles seront

    avoir (to have) - j'aurai, tu auras, il/elle aura, nous aurons, vous aurons, ils/elles auront

    aller (to go) - j'irai, tu iras, il/elle ira, nous irons, vous irez, ils/elles iront

    So, what did I mean about the likeness to Spanish? Well, in Spanish, the verb ser is to be, and the verb ir is 'to go'. I know, it doesn't work out for 'to have'...but that's ok. Well, there you have it, the future tense. We have just one more easy one to go before we start switching it up a little bit. Are you ready for a challenge?

    Posted Dec 23 2006, 04:00 PM by christophergreen with no comments
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  • Don't forget the easy stuff...the "near future"

    The next tense that we're going to talk about is so simple to form that I nearly forget to mention it at all. I had concentrated to much on making sure that we learned about those two really important verbs, etre and avoir, that I forgot to talk about a third equally important verb aller, which means 'to go'. The verb aller not only helps us to express movement of any given person or thing, but it also helps to us to form the "near future" tense. I suppose that the near future, or futur proche, isn't really a tense at all, but it's something tense-like that is really important to learn. The near future is the idea that allows us to express I'm going to X. Ya know what I mean? I'm going to eat my dinner. He is going to stop the car. They are going to visit me tomorrow. In all these examples, some subject is not 'at this moment' but in the 'near future' going to participate in some action. Maybe I'm getting a little bit ahead of myself though. First we need to talk about the forms of aller

    in order for us to understand what we're going to do. Aller is a pretty irregular verb, but it's not too terribly bad to memorize the various forms for the tenses that we've talked about already.

    In the present indicative:

    je vais, tu vas, il/elle va, nous allons, vous, allez, ils/elles vont

    In the passe compos� we conjugate with "etre" and the past participle is all�. Therefore:

    je suis all�, tu es all�, il/elle est all�, nous sommes all�,s vous etes all�s, ils/elles sont all�s (oh yeah, forget to mention that where you conjugate with etre, there needs to be agreement for gender and number...that's really important)

    OK, back to the imperfect:

    j'allais, tu allais, il/elle allait, nous allions, vous alliez, ils/elles allaient

    So now that we know the forms of aller for everything that we've discussed so far, we can now focus in on making the futur proche. So easy...all we need to do is take the subject plus the appropriate present indicative form of aller and then add the infinitive of the verb that we want. For example:

    je vais manger maintenant (I'm going to eat now)

    tu vas sortir ce soir (you are going to go out tonight)

    ils vont m'appeller demain (they are going to call me tomorrow)

    See how easy that is?! I know, it seems that I keep stressing how easy these ideas are...but they are relatively simple and easily expressable in English, as compared to the subjunctive and a few other things in French. Easy the easy stuff while you can!

    Posted Dec 22 2006, 03:44 PM by christophergreen with no comments
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  • Imperfect things

    The imperfect is that first tense that you end up learning about in any given foreign language class that can really cause to get you a little bit confused. Why is that?...well, it's because we really don't think about the imperfect tense in English. That's not to say that we don't have a way to express the imperfect tense in English, because we frequently do so, but it's just not one of those things that I recall being discussed in my high school English classes.

    So what exactly is the imperfect tense? Well, the most basic explaination for what the imperfect tense is used for is for habitual action that occurred in the past. In English, we would generally express the imperfect tense by using "was" followed by some verb. If I was wealthy... I was walking the dog when I ... ya know, things like that. As you can probably notice by filling in the latter part of those two sentences above, the imperfect is generally used in combination with other tenses and moods. If I was wealthy, would be followed by a clause with a conditional mood verb. If I was wealthy, I would buy a big house. In the second example, I was walking the dog when, would be followed by a clause with a past tense verb. I was walking the dog when I saw the firetruck go by me. There are plenty of other uses of the imperfect tense, and like I said above, the general rule that I was taught is that, if you can express something in English by using "was", then chances are it is expressed with the imperfect tense.

    In French, the imperfect is first tense that we learn after the present indicative and the passe compos�. This is because the way that the verbs are formed is very similar to the present indicative. You can click back a few posts ago to see an explaination of the present indicative tense if you would like, because I will only go ahead and derive a few imperfect tense verbs here.

    All of the typical verb classes are simple to form in the imperfect. We simply take the verb root and add a particular ending that is the same for -er, -ir, and -re verbs. For example:

    parler (to speak) - je parlais, tu parlais, il/elle parlait, nous parlions, vous parliez, ils/elles parlaient

    mentir (to lie) - je mentais, tu mentais, il/elle mentais, nous mentions, vous mentiez, ils/elles mentaient

    perdre (to lose) - je perdais, tu perdais, il/elle perdait, nous perdions, vous perdiez, ils/elles perdaient

    See how simple that is? Believe it or not, it even works the exact same was for the irregular verbs, as long as you remember to change the verb stem to its appropriate form where necessary. By using our two favorites, 'to be' and 'to have', I can demonstrate this to you.

    etre (to be) - j'etais, tu etais, il/elle etait, nous etions, vous etiez, ils/elles etaient (please pardon my acute accents...or lack thereof)

    avoir (to have) - j'avais, tu avais, il/elle avait, nous avions, vous aviez, ils/elles avaient

    So now, with that information, you should be able to form the imperfect tense with just about any French verb that you can imagine. Good luck!

    Posted Dec 21 2006, 03:20 PM by christophergreen with no comments
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  • The complete past...oh yeah, pass� compose

    Talk about a tense that you can not do without...that's right, it's the pass� compose (PC). Don't let the name fool you, the PC really is the most simple past tense in the French language, but we can't get it confused with the pass� simple which is a tense used only in literature. The PC is really one of the easiest tenses to use, and it's the easiest to remember how to form. Do you remember how I said that etre and avoir were the two most important verbs in the French language? Well, today we'll learn why that is. Etre and avoir, to be and to have, respectively, act as auxiliary verbs in the French language. By combining different forms of these two verbs with certain forms of other verbs, we can create verbs that have a rich variety of meaning. The first and easiest one of these compound tenses is the pass� compose. In order to form the PC, we need to know how to conjugate avoir and etre in the present indicative, which is something that we did last time. By taking the appropriate present indicative form of these verbs and adding it to the past participle of the appropriate main verb, we can form the PC. You might be wondering why we need to auxiliary verbs to do this, right? Well, as it turns out, there are a small class of verbs that involve motion that take etre as their auxiliary. All other verbs take avoir as their auxiliary. You might recall my post about DRMRSVANDERCAMP. This is a good neumonic device that can help us to remember what verbs take etre as their auxiliary. devenir, revenir, mourir, rentrer, sortir, venir, arriver, naitre, descendre, entrer, retourner, (the 'c' is escaping me at the moment) aller, monter, and partir. Truth be told, there are a few others, but these are the main ones.

    So once we know the right verbs, and the right auxiliary, all we have to do is make the past participle of our main verb. Difficult...I think not! Simply take your verb, drop the ending and add -� if it's a -er verb, an -i for -ir verbs, and usually a -u for -re verbs. As with all things, there are exceptions...but this is the general way that we get rolling with the pass� compose. Now instead of saying things like 'I eat' je mange, we can say 'I ate' j'ai mang�. For an "etre" verb, instead of saying 'I arrive" j'arrive we can say 'I arrived' je suis arriv�. Easy stuff, right?

    Posted Dec 20 2006, 08:02 PM by christophergreen with no comments
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  • Are French verbs really irregular?

    I remember way back when, that someone told me that it was worthless to try to learn about French verb tenses, because every single verb was irregular. Now that it's been years later, I wish that I could remember who said that, because they surely deserve a good talking to. I've been working on learning the French language for years now, and at this point, nothing seems terribly irregular about any of the French verbs. Sure, there are the typical -er, -ir, and -re verbs that have a particular way that they are "usually" conjugated, but with a little bit of exposure, we can see how the rest of the verbs fit themselves into the same basic conjugation paradigm as these. It kinda bums me out thinking back on things, that this statement made by whoever it was really deterred me from going forward with learning French back when I was in middle school. Well, it was this comment and the fact that the middle school French teacher was a really odd and scary man. But, I digress... Somewhere along the way, someone instilled in me this mindset that Spanish was the only useful language out of the three that were offered to us in our school district to bother learning. It's not that I'm sorry that I went ahead and took Spanish for all the years that I did, but I wish that I would have at least had a clean slate to try French. I guess that it didn't take too long after I started Spanish that I began to excel in it, and I eventually ended up having the "odd and scary" French teacher as my Spanish teacher, since I later found out that he taught both languages. Since I was doing so well in Spanish in ninth grade, my teacher gave me some French stuff to start to look at. Being the kind of language nerd that I have always been, I continued to learn French on my own after that point, and to this day, I've only really ever had a single semester of formal instruction in the language. Judging from that limited formal classroom exposure, I am actually pretty proud of the amount of French that I have come to know. I can safely hold my own when it comes to speaking, reading, and writing French...so I'm hoping that all these years of indepedent study are going to pay off in a couple weeks when I have to finally prove my proficiency in the language.

    So yeah, back to something actually about the French language...those "pesky" verbs. I have a problem with calling them pesky, because I think that there are plenty of worse things to deal with in the French language. Far worse than verbs are pronouns, and far worse than pronouns are adjectives. The number one crazy thing about French to me is how adjectives can totally change their meaning depending on whether they come before or after the noun that they are modifying. That just blows my mind...probably because I'm not used to it, but it's weird nonetheless.

    So let's start from the beginning...the present indicative in French. Super easy! There are the three main types of verbs, like I mentioned above, -er, -ir, and -re. The most difficult thing to remember is how the singular forms of the verb are spelled. With -er verbs, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person endings are -e, -es, and -e respectively, whereas with the -ir and -re verbs, it's either -s, -s, -t, or -nothing, -nothing, -s, depending on the type of verb we're talking about. I guess an example is necessary to demonstrate this simple idea. Take the -er verb parler, meaning to speak.

    je parle, tu parles, il/elle parle, nous parlons, vous parlez, ils/elles parlent

    Do you see how the endings work out like I explained above? Slightly different from this paradigm is the one for the -ir verbs, like choisir, meaning to choose.

    je choisis, tu choisis, il/elle choisit, nous choisissons, vous choisissez, ils/elles choissisent

    Some -ir verbs work out the same way as the -re verbs, like dormir (to sleep) and vendre (to sell)

    je dors, tu dors, il/elle dort, nous dormons, vous dormez, ils dorment

    je vends, tu vends, il/elle vend, nous vendons, vous vendez, ils vendent

    Of course there are the supposed irregular verbs, but even they follow a very regular pattern, as long as you can remember what the stem changes to in each case. Take, for example, the two most important verbs in the French language etre (to be) and avoir (to have).

    je suis, tu es, il/elle est, nous sommes, vous etes, ils sont

    j'ai, tu as, il/elle a, nous avons, vous avez, ils ont

    Even among these two, you can easily see the similarities that they have with one another, and with the other "typical" verb paradigms. Like I said, the difficult part is remembering the stem changes. This is, of course, only the beginning. There are plenty of other verb tenses and moods to worry about, but they are all built off of these simple paradigms. We'll talk more about some of the others next time.

    Posted Dec 19 2006, 07:38 PM by christophergreen with no comments
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  • One day until New York

    Wow, it really snuck up on me this year. Tomorrow morning, I'm going to be heading up to Indianapolis to catch a flight home to Syracuse for over a week to see my family and friends that I only get a chance to visit with once or twice a year. I think that I have been so relieved with the way that the semester has ended, that I didn't realize that the date has been fast approaching. I haven't even thought about all those little details about my trip that I'm going to have to consider before tomorrow morning rolls around. Luckily, my pal CJ has volunteered to drive me up to Indy to catch my flight, so I haven't had to worry about getting up to campus to catch the Bloomington shuttle up to the airport...and that has surely saved me a lot of worry and hassle. Since that's out of the way, I have to think about all the travel crazyness like doing laundry, packing up my things to travel to the Arctic tundra that is Syracuse, digging out all the Christmas presents that I've amassed over the past several months and making sure they get home, and most importantly figuring out which of my books need to accompany me on my break so that I can study in my spare time.

    In the midst of all this, I need to tie up my loose ends in Bloomington so that I don't have much to worry about over the break. Paying those mid-month bills and making sure the mail is taken care of are definitely at the top of my list. I'm looking forward to getting everything finished up for the day relatively early and having a relaxing evening of hanging out with some friends before heading home. The next time you hear from me, I'll be freezing my butt off in upstate New York. Have a happy holiday season everyone!

    Posted Dec 19 2006, 03:30 AM by christophergreen with 1 comment(s)
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  • Hitting up the French books

    Since I can't possibly last for a long time doing nothing, I've had my nose in the French books off and on for the past few days. I'm going to try to attempt to get a lot done over the next few days before I head home for Christmas break, but my French books will surely find their rightful place in my carry-on luggage and accompany me to New York for my ten day trip.

    So what exactly is it that I'm trying to accomplish by reviewing all this French, right? Well, the problem is that I know a lot about French...both how to speak it and how it works, but I don't get a chance to use my knowledge all the time. Because this is the case, the minute details about the language tend to slip my mind. Little things like spelling changes, accents, and exceptions to word order are really easy to forget if you're not accessing that type of information on a regular basis. Just by going back through some sentences and short paragraphs, I should be able to successfully jog my memory into remembering the ins and outs about these types of things.

    I'll spend a little bit of time reviewing sentence structure, all the many different types of pronouns, appropriate uses of all the different tenses and moods (especially the subjunctive), and a some vocabulary. I've acquired several French grammar books, including some with review questions, along the way, so I'll have lots of opportunities to test my knowledge and my memory. My test is only a few weeks away, so I'm going to have to hit the books pretty hard both during my trip and in the week after I return to Bloomington.

    Posted Dec 18 2006, 03:21 AM by christophergreen with no comments
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