Merde!: The Real French You Were Never Taught at School

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Simon and Schuster, Dec 9, 1998 - Foreign Language Study - 112 pages
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Do you remember when you were learning French at school and looked in vain through your dictionary for all the dirty words? Have you thought you had a reasonable command of the language, then seen a French film or gone to France only to find that you could barely understand a word? You were, of course, never taught "real" French by your boring teachers, who failed to give you the necessary tools of communication while stuffing the subjunctive imperfect down your throat. French "argot" (slang) is not just the dirty words (though, have no fear, you will find them here); it is an immensely rich language with its own words for very ordinary things, words that are in constant use. Here, then, is not an exhaustive or scholarly dictionary of "argot" (that would be ten times thicker) but a guide to survival in understanding everyday French as it is really spoken.


Asterisks after "argot" words indicate a degree of rudeness above the ordinary colloquial. Two asterisks show a whopper, although you should not assume that strength and rudeness cause a word to be used less frequently; "au contraire."

When an English definition is underlined, that definition gives a good equivalent flavor, feeling and degree of rudeness of the French word. Good equivalents are not that common, so rely generally on the English definition for the meaning of the French word, on the asterisks for its strength and on the many examples for its usage. Just remember, to be authentic is to be rude.

Copyright © 1984 by Geneviè ve Edis


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This really is 'The French you weren't taught in school'. It's an orderly presented and very seriously written introduction to words like 'merde', 'chier' etc and how they are used in the vernacular. There are lots of examples of slang, as well as indications of obscenity-levels. Read full review

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Genevieve is a two-year old papillon.

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