LKL on Facebook

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve started receiving tons of Facebook friend requests from people I don’t know and with whom I have no friends in common. I can only guess that my profile is showing up somewhere on theirs because we have something (most likely French) in common. Since it doesn’t seem right to “friend” someone I don’t know, I created a couple of other pages:

Learn French with LKL fan site, for people who love my free French site.

Laura K. Lawless fan site, if you love me for more than just my French site. 🙂

Happy New Year!

So long 2008! Come on in, 2009! This was one of the best years of my life – I started out in Costa Rica and ended up – after trying to move here for almost 20 years – in France! May all your dreams come true, too.

Here’s some reading material and ideas for New Year’s Resolutions:

French and France

French is a Romance language, a linguistic family which includes Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, and five other languages. [1] It is the world’s 11th most spoken language, with somewhere between 77 and 128 million native speakers in dozens of countries. French is the second most commonly taught second language, with some 100 million students all over the world. [2]


Le français fait partie des langues romanes, une famille linguistique comprenant l’espagnol, l’italien, le portugais, le roumain et cinq autres langues. [1] C’est la onzieme langue du monde, avec entre 77 et 128 millions de personnes qui la parlent en tant que langue maternelle, dans des douzaines de pays. Le français est la deuxiĂšme langue Ă©trangĂšre la plus enseignĂ©e, avec environ 100 millions d’Ă©tudiants dans les quatre coins du monde. [2]

Learning French


Apprendre le français

There is no “secret” to learning French – it takes time, effort, and usually some money. Studying in France or another French-speaking country is ideal, but not essential. The Alliance française offers classes and events all over the world in their 1,100 chapters (including 130 in the US).


Apprendre le français n’a rien de « secret Â» – il faut du temps, des efforts et gĂ©nĂ©ralement de l’argent. L’idĂ©al est d’Ă©tudier en France ou dans un autre pays francophone est idĂ©al, mais ce n’est pas essentiel. L’Alliance française propose des cours et des activitĂ©s partout dans le monde grĂące Ă  leurs 1.100 branches (dont 130 aux États-Unis ).

If classes are not an option, the internet is a wealth of free information for learning:


Si un cours de français n’est pas une option viable, l’Internet offre Ă©normĂ©ment d’informations :

And for daily practice:


Et d’exercices quotidiens :

There are also plenty of online tools, including dictionaries and
conjugation tables.


Il y a aussi beaucoup d’outils sur Internet, y compris des dictionnaires et des conjugateurs de verbes.

France   La France

France is a country in western Europe with a population of about 60 million. In French, the country is often referred to as l’Hexagon due to its geometric shape, and it’s divided into 22 rĂ©gions, which are further divided into dĂ©partements. [3]

However, France is not limited to Europe. French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and RĂ©union are dĂ©partements d’outre mer, or DOM and are part of France. In addition, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna, and the French southern and Antarctic lands are territoires d’outre mer (TOM) and Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Mayotte are collectivitĂ©s territoires which belong to but are not part of France. [2]


La France est un pays occidental avec une population d’Ă  peu prĂšs 60 millions d’habitants. En français, on l’appelle souvent l’Hexagone Ă  cause de sa forme gĂ©omĂ©trique, et elle est divisĂ©e en 22 rĂ©gions, qui sont elles mĂȘmes divisĂ©es en dĂ©partements. [3]

Cependant, la France existe aussi en dehors de l’Europe. La Guyane française, la Guadeloupe, la Martinique et la RĂ©union sont des dĂ©partements d’outre-mer (DOM) et font partie intĂ©grale de la France. De surcroĂźt, la PolynĂ©sie française, la Nouvelle-Caledonie, Wallis-et-Futuna et les Terres australes et antarctiques sont des territoires d’outre-mer (TOM) et Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon et Mayotte sont des collectivitĂ©s territoriales Ă  statut particulier qui appartiennent Ă  — mais qui ne font pas partie de — la France. [2]


The largest city is Paris, which has a population of about 2.1 million. Next is Marseilles, with 808,000, and then Lyon (422,000), Toulouse (366,000), and Nice (346,000). [4]

French is the official language of France, but there are numerous dialects and regional languages including Breton and Provençal.


La plus grande ville, Paris, a une population d’Ă  peu prĂšs 2,1 millions d’habitants. Viennent ensuite, Marseille avec des 808.000 habitants, et puis Lyon (422.000), Toulouse (366.000) et Nice (346.000). [4]

La langue officielle est le français, mais il y a de nombreux dialectes et langues régionales, comme le breton et le provençal.



2 "La Francophonie dans le monde" (Synthùse pour la Presse). Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, Paris, Éditions Nathan, 2007.



Cinq sƓurs

I just finished watching the short-lived French series Cinq sƓurs (Five Sisters), and I’m very disappointed. It was on 5 nights a week and was supposed to last for a year (260 episodes), but was cancelled after just 108. It wasn’t brilliant by any means, but it was interesting and it was also great for French listening practice, as there were a variety of formal and informal situations (though the verbs tutoyer and vouvoyer were used more than I’ve ever heard them in real life). Plus, it ended on a cliffhanger, with numerous characters in mortal danger. Very uncool! 🙁

Read all the French magazines you can handle

Last week I subscribed to the Éco-forfait WWF illimitĂ©, a new option from French publisher Relay that allows you to download as many of their 400 French magazines as you can read, plus donates a euro a month of your 18-euro subscription to the World Wildlife Fund. I downloaded over 20 magazines on news, culture, food, wine… it’s fantastic. For info, see the bottom-left corner of the Relay site.

Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis

This movie has broken all French box office records, and with good reason – it’s hilarious, fun, and heart-warming. If you get a chance to see it, don’t miss. I can’t imagine having to watch it with subtitles though, as an important part of the story and dialogue has to do with the French dialect spoken in the north of France.

I read that Will Smith (among others) wants to do a remake. The French article said it would be Bienvenue chez les Blacks, so I’m guessing the English title would be something like Welcome to Harlem. Of course, these are very early days, but it sounds great – I can’t wait to see it!


So the big news in the French press is about the word bravitude used by presidential hopeful SĂ©golĂšne Royal.

Comme le disent les Chinois, un Chinois qui ne vient pas sur la Grande muraille n’est pas un brave et un Chinois qui vient sur la Grande muraille conquiert la bravitude.
As the Chinese say, a Chinese person who does not come on the Great Wall is not a brave person and a Chinese person who comes on the Great Wall conquers bravery.

Royal’s use of this word set off something of a firestorm in the French news (including a mocking version of the French motto LibertĂ©, Ă©galitĂ©, fraternitĂ©).

Critics are comparing it to Bushisms like “misunderestimate,” but Royal says that it wasn’t a mistake – she coined the word because the word bravoure just wasn’t strong enough for the Chinese proverb she was translating. It’s an interesting question – what’s the difference between using a word that doesn’t exist because you don’t know any better and using one that doesn’t exist, but (maybe) should?

Her campaign co-director Jean-Louis Bianco said:

Je pense que ce qu’elle a voulu exprimer c’est la plĂ©nitude de la bravoure… c’est-Ă -dire quelque chose de plus que la simple bravoure.
“I think that what she wanted to express was the fullness of bravery
 that is, something more than simple bravery.”

Her advisor Jack Lang said:

J’aurais aimĂ© inventer ce beau mot. Il exprime la plĂ©nitude d’un sentiment de bravoure. L’inventivitĂ© sĂ©mantique fait partie de la capacitĂ© d’un candidat Ă  parler une autre langue que la langue de bois.
“I would have really liked to invent this nice word. It expresses the fullness of a feeling of bravery. Semantic inventiveness is part of the capacity of a candidate to speak rather than waffle.”

(Source: NouvelObs)

Bravitude is a blend of brave and plĂ©nitude and means “fullness/completeness of bravery.” I wouldn’t recommend using it; we’ll just have to wait and see if and when it gets added to the French dictionary. 😉

French Gestures

As part of an initiative to encourage British tourism in Paris, French gestures have been “revealed,” for what you would think was the first time ever. It seems practically every online newspaper has an article about this “guide to understanding Parisians,” and I can only laugh when I check the publication date on my original photo gallery of French gestures: February 2001. Not to mention the fact that I have a lot more than 8.

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