Archive for October, 2008

French Pronunciation

October 30, 2008

If you think English word pronunciation is hard, think again.

La prononciation française est très difficile!

et je n’aime pas lettre R maintenant.

The french pronunciation contains many intricacies such as random letters that are supposed to be silent, or multiple sounds for a single letters, the liaisons and how the words all combine together when the sentence is read.. and endless pronunciation exceptions! Sadly, after 11 weeks of classe de français, I have yet to master the technique to pronounce french words correctly. My only consolation from the professor is that I will need at least 400 hours to speak french comfortably.. and I’ve only had like, 33 hours so far.

HAHAHA!

Anyway, I guess the one way to perfect the french pronunciation is to work with a native French speaker. Of course, the other option is to listen to as much french as possible on Xfm 96.3..

Here’s an article on the letter “R”: How to Pronounce the French R

Difficulty: Average (only if you get what the instructions that is :[)

Time Required: Less than 5 minutes (bleah :P!)

  1. Open your mouth.
  2. Close your throat and carefully enunciate the sound K, several times.
  3. Pay attention to where in your throat the K sound is made. We’ll call this the K place.
  4. Begin slowly closing your throat, as if to keep from swallowing a mouthful of liquid, until you can almost feel the K place. Your throat should be only partially constricted.
  5. Tense the muscles around the K place.
  6. Gently push air through your partially constricted throat.
  7. Practice saying Ra-Ra-Ra (where R = steps 4-6) every day.

Thank god I’m okay with the other supposedly as difficult letter, U.

Here’s “U” anyways: How to Pronounce the French U

So all french speakers, vous aidez moi s’il vous plaît!

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My New iPodTouch

October 27, 2008

trust me, I know how irrelevant this post is.

but still, I’ll post it anyway.

because we’re talking about the brand new iPod Touch from Apple.

and I just got it today, FINALLY!

and I know you are envious.

go grab one, it’s so totally worth it.

My brand new iPod Touch

My brand new iPod Touch

Let’s try to make this post relevant before I force myself to retire for the night and wake up feeling super excited tomorrow. The first thing I did was to set up the google translator for my french class. And boy did I found this great google site optimized for the iPod Touch and iPhone. It’s fast and intuitive and it’s absolutely FREE.

According to the team, the Google Translate for iPhone/iPod Touch is optimized for speed, and supports all of the existing Google Translate language pairs. It uses a client-side data-store on the set to hang on to past translations so the user will always have them at hand even if there is no data network.

Seriously, why pay US$$ when you get to clip this free application? Google is so the answer to all your problems!

So here is the link: Google Translator

Pretty cool huh? :), thanks dad!

French Etiquette in a Nutshell

October 25, 2008

Yesterday, my french class talked about the world of french food and dining. My french professor’s wife Catherine shared a few tips on her french dining experience as a Singaporean in his family. Here’s a brief recount on what I learnt en ma classe de français..

Attire

Whatever the occasion is, always make an effort to dress well. Your best bet would be smart casual for casual gatherings though you should avoid jeans. The french being fashion forward, pays extra attention to dressing details. So impress while not being overdressed.

Arrival Time

Punctuality is a sign that you have been well brought up, and it is said that the higher north you go in France, the most stricter it gets in terms of punctuality. As a general guideline, you should never be more than 15 minutes late. Anything after that grace period, please inform the host before hand.

Gifts

Yes you need to being your host something as a token of appreciation for inviting you over for dinner. Save ideas include fresh flowers or chocolates. And of course like in most other cultures, Chrysanthemums are out of the question since they are typically associated with funeral wreaths! Wines are definitely generous, but skip it unless you are some sort of wine specialist! Don’t forget, most french people know their wines very well and can be very particular on the type you bring. So yes, skip it!

Aperitif / Cocktails as Pre-Dinner Drinks

An aperitif is an alcoholic drink taken before a meal to stimulate the appetite. The term comes from a latin origin in the 19th century which meant, “to open”. A cocktail is an alcholic drink consisting of a sprit or serveral sprits mixed together with other ingredients such as fruit juice, lemonade or cream. Of course, you can always ask for a non-alcoholic drink, and your host will offer juice or fizzy drinks. Never choose upon these offers, take whatever that he offers first!

Also, wait for the host to lead before you drink. It is polite to make eye contact as you say, “Santé”, which means, “to health”.

Main Course

Even though the invitation starts at 8:00pm, the actual dinner will commence around 9:30pm at the earliest. Expect a starter, a main course, salad and then cheese. At the table, observe how the host places her guests. The female guest-of-honour will be placed next to the host on his right. The “next-female-in-line” will be placed on the host’s left. Likewise, the male guest-of-honour will be placed on the right of the hostess. The other guests then seat accordingly, alternating between men and women. Take note that there should never be 13 people at a table as it is a sign of bad luck.. apparently because of a religious origin, that at The Last Supper before Jesus died, there were 13 members at the table.

Don’t eat before the host starts. As the french people do not like the idea of refrigerating or warming up food that has been set out for a while, the host will shuffle constantly to the kitchen to prepare the next course. The french believe in serving the food french, taking care of all the preparation details.

Try everything even if you don’t like it. Refusing food is taken as a form of insult to the host.

Chat

You can talk about everything except taboo topics such as religion, politics and sex. The french enjoy a “verbal conflict”. Sometimes, they will provoke you to talk about how you really feel towards a particular issue just to hear different opinions. In this case, talk to them and make them see your point even though they disagree. In the conversation process and for obvious reasons, ensure that you don’t hurt the anyone’s feelings, shock them unnecessary or attack them.

Salad

Served after the main course with vinaigrette dressing. Don’t ever cut the leaves if they are too big. You should instead, fold them with your fork and knife. Remember, it is impolite to the host to cut them.

Cheese

There are over 400 types of cheese in France. The french eat more cheese than any other nation in the world, an amazing total of 20.4 kg (45 lbs.) per person per year! A definite must for any french meal.

Bread

The french bread is bread made from white wheat flour that has a strong and chewy crust, served constantly through the meal. Usually the bread is shaped into a torpedo, batard, or baguette style. The host may prepare the bread several times a day so his guests can have access to fresh bread for dinner or a late-night snack.

Coffee/Infusion

The french pressed coffee is usually thicker and stronger and has more sediment than drip-brewed coffee. As the used grounds remain in the drink after brewing, the coffee should be served immediately so as to not become bitter from over-extraction. Coffee is usually offered after the main course and is normally taken in the living room.

Final notes

For more notes on french dining, check out the following website: Table Etiquette in France. Just remember, you should always go with the flow and observe the people and their behavior around.

And finally Catherine quotes Oscar Wilde, “Experience is the name we give to our mistakes”, so you will be more experienced on your next visit!

F1 Laughter on Sunday Paper

October 10, 2008

I was browsing the pile of backdated magazines and newspapers and came across this funny column by Tay Yek Keak on Sunday’s paper. It’s just plain hilariousDon’t you just love the “Fakebook” layout (:D)?

Alonso on "Fakebook" page 1

Alonso on "Fakebook" page 1

Alonso on "Fakebook" page 2

Alonso on "Fakebook" page 2

Shame on you, Ferrari

October 7, 2008

So it happens that the loser is eating sour grapes. Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo criticized the Singapore grand prix track as a “circus” and describing the use of the safety car as humiliating for formula one. Montezemolo said, “When we race on tracks which should be used for the circus, anything can happen including the spectacle of the safety car.

Come on seriously are you saying that?

The true F1 fans will know that safety cars are featured at every Grand Prix to ensure that the race does not suffer from undue disruption, allowing the race to continue after a major accident, or other incidents that require the presence of marshals on the track. Like the medical response vehicle, the safety car is on standby throughout the race, ready to be dispatched anytime by the race control upon notice. Once the safety car enters the track, the racers will form up behind it in sequence until the obstacle is removed and track declared safe. Till then and upon the next order of the race controller, the safety car then leaves the track. Racers will remain behind in formation until the beginning of the next lap before they resume racing. This year, the Mercedes SL63 has been appointed as the safety car for the Singapore Grand Pix. 

Mercedes SL63 safetycar appointed for 2008 (credits to formula1.com)

Mercedes SL63 safetycar appointed for 2008 (credits to formula1.com)

During the race, Singapore saw two safety car interventions, the first of which benefited Alonso, resulting to his unexpected victory for Renault. Before the race, Montezemolo said that street circuits and the lack of overtaking opportunities were not the right way forward for the sport.

Yeah right. He obviously had no complaints the other time when Massa and Ferrari inaugurate the list of winners at Valencia Street Circuit. How two-faced.

The president also backed the mechanics who gave Massa the green light during a pit stop despite the fuel hose still being attached to the car as he sped away. I mean any idiot will tell you that the mechanics were at fault because they were extremely careless, duh! Anyway, Massa made it to the end of the pit lane before the fuel hose was removed but received a penalty for a drive through for a dangerous exit from his pit box.

We have extraordinary mechanics who on other occasions have swung results our way. We must stay close to each other because Ferrari are always world champions and are still in the running to win,” Montezemolo said.

Poooff!

We’ll see about that. Ferrari represents class and sophistication, an extreme performance sports car. And in my opinion, the words of the recently appointed chairman of the Formula One Teams Association has totally killed that image.

24th Singapore French Film Festival

October 5, 2008

What is the French Film Festival?

In its tradition, the French people love the arts and the theatre. The annual event is organised by the Alliance Française de Singapour, the French Embassy and and Cathay OrganizationSG Private Banking and Unifrance are the world-wide presenting sponsors of the French Film Festival. And they also have Air France as the Airline Sponsor of the festival.

This year 2008, the French Film Festival in Singapore Films will showcase the finest french actors and directors, box office hits and award winners. With over 20 French films debut screenings in Singapore, it is a highly anticipated event to the expatriates and local Singaporeans. The event also pays tribute to Alain Resnais who is an extraordinary film maker who imposed a cinematic style of entertainment to replace the traditional cinematographic narration. The 24th edition of the French Film Festival will be held from (now!) 3 to 12 October.

Movies I would like to watch..

La Reine Soliel
(Princess of the Sun)

In French with English subtitles
Director: Philippe Leclerc
France, 2007, 90mins, TBA
Cast: Catherine Conet, Gérard Duquet, Nathalie Homs, Arnaud Léonard,
Mathieu Moreau, Philippe Résimont, Martin Spinhayer

>> AF Theatre, Sunday 5 October 2008, 4.30 pm
The Cathay Cineplex, Sunday 12 October 2008, 2.30 pm

Mauvaise foi
(Bad Faith)
In French with English subtitles
Director: Roschdy Zem
France, 2006, 88mins, NC16 – Some mature content
Cast: Cécile De France, Roschdy Zem, Pascal Elbé, Jean-Pierre Cassel,
Martine Chevallier

>>AF Theatre, Saturday 4 October 2008, 6.45 pm
The Cathay Cineplex, Wednesday 8 October 2008, 7.30 pm

Je crois que je l’aime
(Could this be Love?)
In French with English subtitles
Director : Pierre Jolivet
France, 2006, 90mins, PG – Some sexual references
Cast : Vincent Lindon, François Berléand, Sandrine Bonnaire,
Kad Merad, Liane Foly

>>AF Theatre, Wednesday 8 October 2008, 9.15 pm
The Cathay Cineplex, Saturday 11 October, 7.30 pm

Hiroshima mon amour
(Hiroshima My Love)
In French with English subtitles
Director: Alain Resnais
France, 1959, 91mins, Black and White, PG
Cast: Emmanuelle Riva, Eiji Okada, Bernard Fresson, Stella Dassas,
Pierre Barbaud

>>AF Theatre, Monday 6 October 2008, 8.30 pm
The Picturehouse, Saturday 4 October 2008, 9.30 pm

L’année dernière a Marienbad
(Last Year In Marienbad)
In French with English subtitles
Director : Alain Resnais
France, 1961, 94 mins, Black and White, TBA
Cast : Delphine Seyrig, Giorgio Albertazzi, Sacha Pitoeff, Françoise Bertin

>>AF Theatre, Tuesday 7 October 2008, 6.45 pm
The Picturehouse, Sunday 5 October 2008, 4.30 pm

For the full list, download here French Film Festival.

French Homework

October 3, 2008

my homework for french class.

describe the picture with a minimum of 70 words.

which I confused myself heavily with spanish.

still, I got a very good from the professor.

I wonder how I’m going to survive the finals.

my french homework

my french homework