Wednesday, July 15, 2009

To have or to be, that is the question

This week in my French class we tackled what I think may be one of the more difficult concepts for beginning French students - when to use avoir as opposed to etre. When my wife asks me to bring her a glass of water, it is not because she is thirsty, but because she has thirst (Eleanor a soif). I turn on the air conditioning because j'ai chaud - not because je suis chaud (which is purely a judgment call that I will leave to the eye of the beholder).

As I sat in class I was still aching from the 13 hours of driving I had done over the weekend, and as we were covering avoir I asked Marie-Laure if she could tell me how to say "I have neck pain." She told me J'ai mal au cou, although I had to be very careful of my pronunciation of cou or else I might be ascribing my pain to a lower region. So it's back to my copy of The Good Pronunciation Guide for more practice.

Speaking of neck pain, yesterday was Bastille Day. (Sorry about that, I couldn't resist). My colleague in Lyon, Cheryl, just sent out a terrific newsletter (subscribe here) covering exactly what is being celebrated on le quatorze Juillet (it is not, as many Anglophones believe, a commemoration of the storming of the Bastille). She also covers the three different ways that one could say 1789 correctly in French. Three ways to say one number... well, for the moment, I'm happy that Marie-Laure has only taken our class up to 60.

No comments:

Post a Comment