When in French

When in French

Love in A Second Language

eBook - 2016
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"When New Yorker staff writer Lauren Collins moves to Geneva, Switzerland, she decides to learn French--not just to be able to go about her day-to-day life, but in order to be closer to her French husband and his family. When in French is at once a hilarious and idiosyncratic memoir about the things we do for love, and an exploration across cultures and history into how we learn languages, and what they say about who we are"-- Provided by publisher.
"A language barrier is no match for love. Lauren Collins discovered this firsthand when, in her early thirties, she moved to London and fell for a Frenchman named Olivier--a surprising turn of events for someone who didn't have a passport until she was in college. But what does it mean to love someone in a second language? Collins wonders, as her relationship with Olivier continues to grow entirely in English. Are there things she doesn't understand about Olivier, having never spoken to him in his native tongue? Does "I love you" even mean the same thing as "je t'aime"? When the couple, newly married, relocates to Francophone Geneva, Collins--fearful of one day becoming "a Borat of a mother" who doesn't understand her own kids--decides to answer her questions for herself by learning French. When in Frenchis a laugh-out-loud funny and surprising memoir about the lengths we go to for love, as well as an exploration across culture and history into how we learn languages--and what they say about who we are. Collins grapples with the complexities of the French language, enduring excruciating role-playing games with her classmates at a Swiss language school and accidently telling her mother-in-law that she's given birth to a coffee machine. In learning French, Collins must wrestle with the very nature of French identity and society--which, it turns out, is a far cry from life back home in North Carolina. Plumbing the mysterious depths of humanity's many forms of language, Collins describes with great style and wicked humor the frustrations, embarrassments, surprises, and, finally, joys of learning--and living in--French"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, 2016
ISBN: 9780698191075
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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Jul 07, 2017

Beautifully written memoir about language acquisition.

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.

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.

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.

AL_JANE 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.

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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