Learning French: That Fearsome Gender-wall

in Proof of Brain2 months ago (edited)

Gender Mayhem!


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I wrote a few months ago why I was teaching myself French. Apart from being a pretty language, French has some practical and sentimental values to me. However, learning all by myself is not that efficient. I've yet to dive into the ocean of French language. Although I do watch French films almost everyday, granted not to learn French per say, still they help. Also many polyglots suggest not to bother with the grammar but I can't really help it. If I don't know something, chances are, I'll never be able to grasp it clearly and effectively.

But handling French grammar books ain't going that well. French can be quite weird! I don't mean bad by weird, rather quite peculiar and unique in some ways.
For example, how do you write 89 in English? Eighty and nine, right? In Bangla, it is also similar, eighty and nine. French, however, would say it this way - Four times twenty and nine!

The biggest wall I've faced so far is French genders. What's so tough about French genders is that — every single word is divided into two genders, masculine and feminine, and the words or the objects they represents do not have to have a sex to have a gender. I'm not talking about humans, professions and such only, they're relatively easier, rather inanimate objects such as bus, trains, books. Even nature or cultures have genders! And if you take by the meaning, you cannot guess their gender. For instance, Le danger (danger) is a masculine word (le being the definite masculine article) but La mort (death) is feminine. Rent is masculine, but Share is feminine. Wine is masculine while beverage is feminine.

Of course, there are tons of rules to why these words are considered as masculine or feminine, like words ending with -isme is likely to be masculine, but even these prefixes and suffixes are too many to memorize for me. Not to mention, almost all rules have their exceptions.

I hear Canadians are doing something revolutionary, feminization of professions. Before, the language always used masculine nouns even when the profession is practiced by women too. So that's one more exception to consider.

I read through the rules anyway, mostly because many of them had examples to read and picked up a lot of words along the way. Not sure how many are still in my head though. For Voltaire's sake, I still mistake the gendered article when mentioning names of my favorite French movies! As I see it, this will only stick if I practice enough. Memorizing rules won't take me anywhere.

I've heard about another approach recently — that is to memorize 1000 most useful words of any language you're trying to learn. I can see why this is beneficial, we don't usually use fancy words when communicating, not always anyway. Still the challenge would be picking the most useful 1000 words. The list varies, I checked. This is the grinding part of learning I suppose!

I've writing down words on sticky pads and shoving them on things they represent — to help them pop up my field of sight. So far, this has been a successful method.

Well, that's it for now, I'll update once I'm done with those 1K words! Au Revoir!



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The French language and grammar is a huge pain. People often complain about the all the exceptions in the English language and I wouldn't want to learn that one especially as an adult.

Immersion is the best way I find, but that's a hard thing to do especially these days. Film is a great way to learn or maintain that language. As with most languages, regional dialects also creep up.

Have fun learning, it'll keep that brain active.

I'm quite convinced I would find myself in a world of pain if I had to learn English as an adult. As a child, it was mostly schoolwork, so it didn't appear to be something alien, something hostile.

Unless you live in a community that speaks the language, immersion is mediocre at best. Still, one must keep at it.

I'm not too perturbed by the regional dialects now. Learning the core language is the primary challenge for me at this moment.

Let's browse French songs together. Here's my discord ID. leprechaun#2185. I am thinking Zoom, you can share your screen. Agree on a day of the week and we will keep each other committed to it.


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Sure, I'm adding you there. I don't use zoom though, but we can share songs we like for sure!
Also there are discord bots I know that plays songs, perhaps we can stream them. 😃

Both Hindi... which I know and Espaniol, which I don’t (very well), have that problem.... but no way that extensive. So there goes my hope of leaning French. Learning language is tough unless you are immersive and only then you either sink or swim :)

Can’t help but put this iconic ad...

And this one

Haha thanks for the videos!
Specially the Simon Pegg one, quite hilarious!

I understand the difficulties this particular task has put me through and not sure whether I'm gonna sink or swim. But I know I have to try harder! :)

I started learning French last year, but I am not as consistent and dedicated as you. I just use Duolingo and Google translate. How they say numbers was quite funny for someone like me who struggles with basic arithmetic. 😂 But it was so fun. I even bought the French edition of The Little Prince so I can read and hopefully understand contexts in the easiest form —a children’s storybook. I never thought that learning a language would be this fun, that’s a wonderful tip you have in your post, learning the 1000 most useful words in the language, that makes sense. 💯

Hey, I also have the little prince french book haha! And reading children literature is a great way to learn a foreign language. :)

Duolingo is quite good at a beginner stage but I feel like it's very limiting in some ways and takes way more time. I do use it though. Have you tried French podcasts?

Hahaha, I haven’t finish reading it though. 😅 Yes, Duolingo is great for beginners, though it doesn’t have much about grammar or structure. I haven’t tried listening to podcasts, but I’ll look into it. What I have tried so far is listen to some songs and try to translate some words.

I think I’ll also start learning 1000 most useful words too, like write it down and really know the meaning. It’s been a few weeks since I last study language lessons, maybe I got bored of my study habits and I need something like this to boost my interest again. ☺️

I have a long trail of giving up on languages, done it with German. Done it once with French too. Unless there's a constant push to move towards you, or you're really dedicated, it's hard to keep practicing!

Good luck with the words and I do like to listen to french music a lot. Do you listen to Indila, Calegero?

That's same for me too, the first language I have attempted to learn is Irish (it was very difficult that I had to quit). The consistency I have right now in learning French and Korean is something I can be proud of, well, sort of. What's really driving me to continue learning those two languages is that it's very interesting for me. And maybe, I hope I'd get to use it someday, like converse with the native speakers of that language.

I only have two songs that I listen to right now, Le Festin by Camille and Michael Giacchino and Quelqu'un m'a dit by Carla Bruni. I checked out those two artists, I'll explore more of their discography. But I already love Calogero's Le portrait. ☺️

I'd hope to read French literature in French someday, they have a gold mine!

I'm not familiar with the two artists it seems! Thanks, I'll check them out!
And Le Portrait is so damn touching! I love that song!

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Nice I hope you master it soon.. think about the structure, syntax and grammar of other languages have been a difficult thing for me to do.. not to talk of one that communicates gender with a completely different set of rules.. boy oh joy