Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Longtemps, je n'ai pas écrit ici

Further public education.

During what has thus far passed for 2005, I have been teaching myself some sort of French (from a book called Teach Yourself French). I am up to about lesson 13, hooray, and in the 'translate to French' exercises I often run into difficulty in selecting exactly which past-tense construction to use (those I have learned being, I believe, passé simple, passé composé, and passé anterieur). For example, should I write "Le train ont tué les chevaux", or "Le train tuait les chevaux"? Anyway, I decided to shop around for some outside free advice, and typed "past tenses in french" into Google. I found my way to About.com, the first result in Google's list, and found some advice about French literary tenses. Consider this:

"At one time, these tenses were used in spoken French, but they have gradually disappeared. When they are used, they raise the speaker's register to an extremely refined (some might even say snobbish) level of French. They may also be used for humorous effect. For example, in the French movie Ridicule, the aristocracy use literary tenses in their word games, in order to make themselves sound more educated and refined. ...

"Because literary tenses are not used in spoken French, you need to be able to recognize them, but you will most likely never need to conjugate them. ... However, for the linguists and academics out there..." [Followed by a link to the table of literary tenses.]

The full article here. Remarquez, sil vous plait, the purple "what do you think" box.

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