When in French

When in French

Love in A Second Language

eBook - 2016
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9
Describing how the author decided to learn French in order to become closer to her husband, an effort marked by the complexities of the language, the nature of French identity, and her growing appreciation for French-specific communication nuances.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Publishing Group, 2016
ISBN: 9780698191075
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc

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maggie0287
Jun 06, 2018

Typically a reader of fiction, historical fiction, and sci-fi, I was surprised to find I really enjoyed reading this book. It was slow at the start, but once I got into it I found it to be a fun and engaging read. Not only that, I've found myself on a handful of occasions mentioning concepts from this book in conversation with friends, co-workers, strangers at a dinner party, etc. Some really interesting food for thought in regard to how our language shapes us culturally and personally. Worth the few hours it takes to read!

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GAKeck
Dec 17, 2017

This book is not only boring, it's boring in great detail. Nearly half of it is about the author's unremarkable U.S. childhood (ex: a trip to Disneyworld and Epcot Center with such stunning revelations as the fact that Epcot lumberjacks' plaid shirts were made from lightweight fabric, due to the Florida heat). She spends a great deal of time griping about Switzerland, where she lives with her French husband. The author describes herself as so inept at French that she can't even manage to shop at Ikea - then when she gets around to taking a language class, she tests into an intermediate level. Hmmm. Bottom line? Your valuable reading time would be much better spent on a more worthy and interesting book.

d
diannehildebrand
Jul 07, 2017

Beautifully written memoir about language acquisition.

t
TheresaAJ
Jul 03, 2017

When Lauren Collins falls in love with French Olivier in London, she believes that love can overcome all obstacles. When they move to French-speaking Lausanne, she decides to learn French so she can converse with her husband in his native language. What follows is a challenge that keeps on going and going and going to the point of calling her mother-in-law a coffee machine. Chapters are titled with verb tenses and explore the history of language as well as Lauren's personal struggle to speak fluent French with her husband and his family. Idioms take on a whole new meaning. The American "having your cake and eating it too" becomes the French "to want the butter, the money, and the ass of the dairywoman". A fancy restaurant in France has an English sign that reads "In hamburgers we trust. Because we like it. When it's hurt hard." Even simple words can take on different meanings -- being special in English translates into being weird in French. As much a history of language as a memoir, Collins explores life in a new culture by learning a second language. In a world dominated by Mandarin, Spanish, and English speakers, the author shares the French dedication to maintaining a pure French vocabulary through sheer persistence and dedication. A good choice for the language lovers in your life.

l
laurakramer22
Mar 22, 2017

This book had some interesting information about languages throughout history and cultures. However, the book just made me mad: at the author, at French language and culture, and at what the author believes are universal truths about people in bilingual relationships. I myself am married to a person who speaks a different language than I do, so I really found some of the author's anecdotes about bi-cultural marriages off-putting and untrue.

b
bluehydrangea
Mar 07, 2017

For me this has become a kind of stealth book that makes a persuasive case for learning another language. I found it deceptively low key but days after finishing the book, my mind kept turning over some of the ideas in here. This is also a beautifully written memoir about creating a new family. It’s got a really nice feeling about it.

ArapahoeJane Feb 17, 2017

It's rare for me to read a book and be faced with (English) words that I've never run across. In this way, the book was a fun challenge. Beyond being an interesting read, it has the potential to expand one's vocabulary.

e
exie3
Dec 09, 2016

Very good from a New Yorker staffer

Nicr Dec 02, 2016

Entertaining and educational memoir by an American journalist married to a Frenchman. Living in Geneva, and attempting to communicate with her in-laws and to understand her husband culturally, she commits to learning French. She recounts the rewards and pitfalls of language acquisition and adds to her personal experience with historical and scientific perspective.

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