Nous – observations and questions

In NOUS, pp. 78-79 I’ve noticed some interesting things. A chapter is titled Une drole de journee. I had read that de is used after an adjective but I wasn’t sure of the meaning and the level of usage or register. It turns out it is colloquial or familiar and is best expressed in English by shifting the word stress or sentence stress in c’est un beau de chat from That’s a beautiful cat to that’s a beautiful cat.

A new word, je precise, meaning “I mean….”, “to be more precise” as in That’s early for us, I mean.

I had wanted to use environ for about in the sense of approximately and found it used that way in the reading. That is the sort of thing I call acquired in myself, something I just ‘picked up’ in my use of French in conversation.

Then there’s a great one illustrating how the ce of c’est refers to the larger context of the antecedent, so in referring to the 3 roommates and which one got up third, the speaker says, Genevieve, c’est la troisieme. Here the context is all the roommates in the process of getting up ‘early’ in the morning. Elle est would narrow the range of the antecedent, elle, and pinpoint Genevieve without notice of the other women; so here we are, with ce, pulling in the whole menage. OTOH, from the grammar I’ve been studying, it should read le troisieme to agree with ce, not la troisieme to agree with Genevieve. So maybe my grammar book, Glanville Price based on Churchill, is a little too picky although generally it recognizes variation.

I like il se trouve in Il se trouve que j’etais de tres mauvaise humeur ce matin, a neat use of the impersonal il.

And I note the casual use of bouquins for books. And I noticed en plus de ca as on top of that, an expression I had been looking for. And on top of that, I found alors donc as so then, another great expression for narratives.

This is a puzzle for me that maybe someone can straighten me out on: je passe la journee a telephoner a un reparateur de poele qui ne s’est toujours pas decide a venir. For a month I’ve spent the day telephoning a stove repairman who [has not yet decided to come]. So is the reflexive, which I would ordinarily think of as ‘not yet been decided’, i.e. the passive, used here in the sense of ‘decided himself’? Not English but one can see it as an intensifier.

Observations and questions, it’s really fun.


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