Friday, December 7, 2007

ya'll speak french now, y'hear?

I've fallen in love with Tex's French Grammar. The site is a little hard to navigate, but after poking around a bit I found the insanely useful verb tutor, which lets you pick which kind of verb you want to conjugate and which tense you'd like to conjugate for. What's great is that, instead of laboriously writing down verbs, then flipping to the back of some book to check, you just type in your verb, click a button, and get instant confirmation (you know, or not, in case you got it wrong). Then you click another button to erase it all and start over.

I know, I know, this is all basic computer stuff. I've just never seen the textbook model improved upon so well. Usually, computer language courses get all fancy on you. Which is nice, too. But there's nothing like rote memorization when it comes to language.

Thanks to Tex, I finally have a near-instantaneous recognition of all the forms of to be, to have, to do, and to make. The most basic verbs in the language, but they've been driving me crazy for years. Partly because some of them are sometimes interchangeable with our English versions (Here you are hungry, there you have hunger. Here it rains, there it makes rain.)

I also finally grasped that the colloquial "we" uses the same conjugations as he or she, instead of using the conjugation that the formal "we" uses.

And! The main thing Tex, with his graceful web presence, taught me just yesterday is that the past tense is so blipping easy! In the present tense, the verb is different for I, he/she, we, you, and them. Five different forms for one verb, in one tense.

It really never dawned on me before that the past tense has just one form per verb, no matter who you're talking about. That's because you get to conjugate the handy "has" verb all five ways, and then tack on whatever verb you really want to use. (Like: I have read that book, she has read that book, and so on.)

Now that you're in a blog-induced boredom stupor, here's the interesting part. In Texas, "vous" (which is both the formal and the plural version of "you") is translated "y'all."

And that's why you gotta love Texan French.

Note: If anyone out there actually wants to use the site, you should know that it's really two sites: Tex's French Grammar, which is organized like a grammar reference book, and Français Interactif, which is organized like a textbook. They're linked by the verb tutor (aka verb practice). When you click "verb tutor" on Tex's site, the Français Interactif verb practice page appears. You can scroll down on the verb practice page and click a chapter number to go to the Français Interactif textbook. It's all University of Austin, so it's all good.

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