The view from Euronews. . .what's lost in translation?
I am now back from my 5-days of total French, and I am feeling pretty pleased with how it went. Haven't felt so knackered for years, but I ended up with a very strong conviction that I could speak and understand French much much better. The fact is that reading French for me has never been a problem (and for some bits of my work I read as much in French as in English); it's the expression orale and the compréhension orale that's been the weak spot.
But how do you know that you've made the leap, beyond just feeling that you have? Well for me one of the best bits of the whole experience was when I came back via Bruxelles and spoke, in passing, to a few guys in French (ticket collector etc) and they actually replied in French...rather the usual English I've been met with in the past. Surely a sign of progress.
The problem is now how to keep it up. No point in getting fluent in French in March, and losing it all again before you lecture in June.
So I'm planning a weekend in some non-Anglophone area of la France profonde, I'm listening to the cds I came back with, and I'm following Anthony Alcock's advice in response to the last post. I'm listening to the French version of Euronews (with its videos AND written versions, so you can check if you've got it right) . . . repeating what they say back to myself. Sadly, "le tueur de Toulouse" is horribly good for my "u"s and "ou"s.
The up-side (or the down side, depending on you point of view) is that I am going to get really nerdishly up in the details of French news and the French elections. I had been doing this prep last night, when the husband came into the kitchen to announce that President Sarkozy had decide to bang up anyone who looked at a terrorist website. And this indeed what a lot of newspapers and the BBC were saying (conjuring up a horrible vision of some poor innocent granny stumbling by accident on a "hate site" and being instantly whisked off by "les flics" (or "les poulets" as I was taught in Belgium... a decidedly different form of animalization of the forces of the law from "pigs").
Anyway, though being no fan of Sarkozy (except for his nice clear accent when being grave), I was instantly able to say that that was definitely not what the guy had said. I'd just watched him and he talked about the criminalization of those who consult such sites "de manière habituelle" (even the simultaneous translation of Sarkozy's speech on the BBC website omitted that key phrase!).
Now, that still might not be the right way to go, but Sarkozy really wasn't talking innocent about grannies.
Made me wonder how often the news from France loses something in translation.