Saturday, October 11, 2008

Words in a French Life; Kristin Espinasse

Ah, yes, to be a stranger in a strange land. A land that zealously guards its language and culture and culinary traditions from external assault. That’s what author Krisin Espinasse has done, you see: she moved to France. Words in a French Life was first published in France in 2004 and 2005, but this is the first U.S. edition, published by Touchstone in 2007. Link above is to Mrs. Espinasse's blog.

In this charming little book Mrs. Espinasse details the French idioms that tripped her up and the chagrin of being rapidly surpassed in vocabulary growth by your infant children. Not to mention struggling to improve her accent or her inablity to correctly learn how the French pronounce their Rrrrrrrrz. Which is a lesson ma mere repeatedly practiced with me until I memorized it and said Rz like a good little pupil. I still remember ma mere laughing at me, saying “No No, Bookwormom, you’re not learning SPANISH!!! The French DO NOT ROLL THEIR Rrrrrzzzzzz.” Golly, those were good lessons. :) Remember maman?

Anyhow, if you’re an armchair traveler or have ever dreamed of moving to a French speaking country or simply want a good source of idioms, this is the book for you. Stories of grocery shopping during which your young son translates labels for you. Trying to drive and translate airport signs simultaneously. That last one? Hard enough to read airport signs when they’re in your native language, never mind from one tongue into another! Why it can be hard to train a child to be bilingual. Getting tripped up with homonyms (words that sound alike but are spelled differently).

Mrs. Espinasse's joyful book shows the depth and breadth of French culture and outlook from a foreigner's viewpoint. Chapters are thematic and brief and end with a small vocabulary list of helpful phrases.

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