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Why are written French and spoken French so different?

A really interesting answer to a question on Quora, from Andrew MacKenzie. Quora is sometimes weird about making you log in to read things, but I think this link will work. 

The answer describes several areas where written and spoken French are different, and it’s worth reading in full, but I want to focus on discourse configuration. Here’s the first bit of what MacKenzie says about it: 

Written French word order is based on argument structure, i.e. the role the nouns play in the verb’s action: Subject verb object.  In spoken French, however, word order is much more dependent on discourse structure— the role the nouns play in the speech context.  

In English we can move things around for this kind of reason, but it isn’t common.  For instance, to show contrast, we can put objects before subjects:

(4) Coffee, I like. Tea, I don’t.  

This displacement is accompanied by a sharp change in intonation— the contrasted item gets emphasized.  

We can also set nouns apart as topics (this is called topicalization)

(5) Your brother, he can run a mile in five minutes!

Again, in English this isn’t common.  And in written French, it isn’t common either.  But in spoken French, it’s the normal way to make a sentence.

(4 again) Le café, j'adore.  Le thé, moins
(5 again) Ton frère, il peut courir un km six en cinq minutes!

In spoken French, it’s also common to put several nouns in front.  Note that with topicalization (5) you have to have a pronoun in the sentence that refers to any arguments that you’ve topicalized.  One sentence that I remember well:

(6) Moi, les flics, je les aime pas.  
I don’t like cops  [Lit: Me, cops, I don’t like ‘em] 

The use of nous, on for “we” is common, too, if you’re interested in syntax-semantic mismatches (on is 3rd singular morphologically)

(7) Nous, on va au ciné ce soir.
   We’re going to the movies tonight [Lit: Us, one is going to the movies tonight]

It’s also normal to put things after the sentence. This is usually done to emphasize the last constituent, notably the predicate.  The emphasized part is pronounced with more loudness and higher pitch.

(8)  Il est conton frère.
    Your brother’s a jerk.  [Lit: He’s a jerk, your brother ] 

The next one was some advice from my mother-in-law

(9) Faut en boiredu café, le matin.
You have to drink coffee in the mornings 
    [Lit: have-to some drink, coffee, the morning ]

(Full text)

He mentions that he can’t speak for Belgium or Canada, but as a fluent second-language French speaker living in Montreal, I can definitely say that discourse configuration is very common here, and I hadn’t actually realized it was quite so common in France.

I also get the sense that it’s more acceptable to drop the object in contexts where you definitely can’t do so in English. For example, 

(10) Je peux goûter? 
       Can I try some? [Lit.I can taste? ]

I could also just not be hearing the objects though, since the /l/ is often deleted in casual speech for the object pronouns le, la, l’, les, which makes them almost inaudible. Any French speakers from anywhere want to weigh in? 

Dear Customers,

STOP glaring at me because I am recounting your money. You saying “This is twelve” is NOT any kind of confirmation, especially if you hand me a pile of mostly singles. I’m not only making sure you didn’t hand me under your total, I’m making sure you didn’t give me too much. I’m not saying you’re lying by counting again, it just happens to be my job to make sure for your sake and mine. K? Cool. Thanks. 

I don’t know how much I can stress the fact that you guys NEED to register to vote so Bernie has a chance in the upcoming primaries. This is getting scary for him.

Here is a link to a very comprehensive description on how to vote for Bernie in each statehttp://voteforbernie.org/

Please take your Bernie-supporting-memes to heart and make the effort to vote.

The problem is not regular minimum wage jobs going up. The problem here would be that paramedic making a pathetic amount of money compared to what they do. I made 12.50 as a hostess.
Raising the minimum wage would get this paramedic in the scenario much closer to what they deserve as a salary. Do people not realize that?

Also, why, in every one of these fucking posts, are fast-food workers used as an example? You know minimum wage affects FAR more people and types of jobs than that, right? You can have a degree and be paid less than $15 hourly. But, apparently, unless you’re in the medical profession, you don’t deserve more. And evidently everyone that isn’t in the medical profession works at McDonalds.

Let’s not deny an entire mass of people a working wage because you got an incorrect order. That is moronic. How about you campaign and work toward fixing the actual problem in this scenario rather than turning on the working class. Look upwards, not downwards.

P.s. Any minimum wager could easily call out high paid jackasses for not doing their jobs, that they are highly paid to do, correctly but do you see that as often as this? Nope. Because they are focused on getting their fair wage, not just wildly pointing fingers. [Ending was edited out because it was a simple joke and people took it seriously then blew it way out of proportion]


“توقيع عقد الزواج” (1920) للرسّام الإنجليزيّ إدموند لايتون (1825- 1922)، عروس توقِّع عقد زواجِها في اِحتفال بسيط وسط عدد قليل مِن المدعوين.. مِن النظرة الأولى تأسِر العروس عين الرائي بفستانها، يبرز الفستان في اللوحة كمصدر للنور فيُغطي حضورها على أي شيء آخر. تنفذ بقع الضوء مِن النافذة على سِجل الزفاف لكن حتى نور النهار لا يُضاهي نور العروس في اللوْحة. هي البداية التي ينطلق مِنها الرائي، هي البداية والنور الذي يعطي لكلّ شيء معنى.

اهتمَ لايتون برسم مواضيع تاريخيّة ورومانسيّة، ينتمي للواقعيّة الكلاسيكيّة حيثُ سيطرت مواضيع القرون الوسطى على لوْحاته، كماأجادَ رسم الظل والضوء بدرجاته المتفاوتة؛ تُعبِر لوحاته عن نمط حياة كَيْس وأنيق.

The Wedding Register (1920) by Edmund Blair Leighton. The bride who is signing her wedding paper captivates the eye of the beholder from the first sight. Leighton highlighted the dress as a source of light that covers the presence of anything else. She is the beginning from which the beholder starts reading the painting, she is the beginning and the light that gives everything a meaning.

Happy Holidays #029: Will you drink from the red cup or the blue cup?

It’s been brought to my attention that a lot of people are angry about the red Starbucks cups because they don’t have Jesus on them or anything about Christmas.

It’s also been brought to my attention that a few select assholes that think they are Christian are pulling a “prank” on Starbucks by telling the barista that their name is Merry Christmas causing the baristas to have to call out “Merry Christmas, your large cappuccino (with 852 special requests I’m sure) is ready!”

Now, despite the obvious fact that Starbucks doesn’t have to acknowledge a specific holiday whatsoever, I’d like to point out that the baristas do not have to acknowledge one either.

That being said, if I were a barista I would yell out “Happy Holidays” just to be a dick.

Better yet, I would constantly mispronounce “Merry Christmas”.

Grande coffee for…Murry Trystmase?
Mary Chrismay?
Meeree Krissmouse?
Mayor X-Mas?
Merry X-Men?
Professor Xmas?
(I think that’s my favorite)

You know, I never see Jewish people complaining that there aren’t stars of David everywhere.

Maybe it’s because their religion has more respect for others.

I myself am not of a specific religion, but I do respect and am sensitive to others’ religions. If I were Christian, I would be angered by these idiots giving my religion a bad name. Say “merry christmas” to anyone in customer service and if they celebrate it as well they will say it back. If they do not celebrate it, I guarantee they will say “thank you” or “to you as well”. They may even say “thank you” followed by their own religion’s holiday greeting BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT ASSHOLES. Why can’t you do the same? Ugh, every year the same damn argument over something so stupid. We live in a world where people actually get offended by another person attempting to wish them happiness because of the way in which they chose to say it.

This is not what the holidays are about. That is not what being a Christian means.

That is, however, what being a douche is.

Happy Holidays!
(I look forward to all of the crazy people that will find a reason to be offended by this post, alright Christian warriors, entertain me!)