Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Je poussai un soupir....

I've been doing a lot more reading lately, in hopes of bringing up my speech and writing level in French, and I have to say French is amazingly poetic.  I actually posted a bit about this on Google + (If you don't have it, get it!) and I just have to say again how impressed I am with French newspapers.  We're not talking about just the major papers either.  I mean, yeah, read Le Monde or LibĂ©ration, and you're doing to find beautifully written articles by some amazing writers, but just take this excerpt I read from Ouest-France:

". . . mettant ses pas dans ceux de celui qui voulait 'changer la vie.'" [emphasis mine]

That pass right there is so poetic in my opinion.  Even translating it into English it's poetic: to walk in the footsteps of those who wanted to "change lives."  I dunno if maybe I'm just biased, and it's not like Ouest-France is comparable to the local paper I grew up with that served a county and a half, but it's just beautiful to watch the way words and phrases go together.

Speaking of Le Monde as well, did you know that the proofreaders for the paper have their own blog?  I've been reading for a few years, and you can find it here.

I also borrowed my sister in law's copy of Kafka sur la Rivage by Haruki Murakami.  I loved Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, and I was really looking forward to reading IQ84, but I wanted to read it in English just to make sure that I got everything.  We got into a conversation about it back when we visited in May, and she said that she'd lend me IQ84, because they had the three books of it, but only after I read Kafka sur la rivage.  She said she felt it was essential that I read it to understand more about IQ84.  So, challenge accepted.

One of my big fears about reading in French is that I'm always sure I'm missing something.  Sometimes when I talk with people, I have these clips where I miss a word, and I can't fill in the blank.  I can make educated guesses, but by then, they're on to something else.   It's like when you're watching TV and it cuts out as someone says something important, like the verb in a sentence.  It takes you a minute to place the word back in the sense you need.  I guess the best way I've found to know if I'm getting what's being said is to imagine the scene.  If I can see the scene in my head, I usually have a pretty good idea of what's going on.  I guess it's just that.  often subtlety is lost on me.

It took me about a week straight of reading whenever I had free time, which I consider pretty good.  After all, Murakami isn't known as light reading, but the book is also 638 pages.  All in French, and I have to say I was a little wooly in the head when I finished it.  It's like that with any book though.  I don't know if it was the translation though or what but they used the same words and phrases over and over again.  I now have a deep and intimate relationship with the past tenses of "pencher, pousser, secouer, and hocher."  Fortunately, they're all first group verbs so figuring out their origins was easy.  My best guess as to what it was so repetitive was that it was translated from Japanese into French, and therefore there are only so many ways to express such things correctly.

So I'm very proud that I was able to finish it and like Hard Boiled Wonderland before it,  I loved it.  I'm looking forward to starting IQ84 soon, but we'll burn that bridge when it's time.

All of this, of course, to say that I love reading French, and I hope to do it more in the future!


  1. I loved this. And we all deserve a decent newspaper - the Columbus Dispatch is so nasty.

    1. I was mainly referring to my Hometown newspaper back in the US. My English teachers always said that one day they would do a complete proofreading markup on the paper and mail it back with their corrections. Even in the smallest and most local newspapers here, the grammar, spelling, and punctuation are tight.