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Parallel Text - Short Stories in French

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Parallel Text - Short Stories in French

Parallel Text - Short Stories in French

Parallel Text - Short Stories in French

Penguin

 

French Audio and Book Language Learning click here

Other French Dictionaries and Phrase Books click here

 

214pp

This new volume of twelve short stories, with parallel translations offers students of French at all levels the opportunity to enjoy a wide range of contemporary literature, without having constantly to refer back to a dictionary.

Written by authors from Quebec as well as France, the majority of these stories have been published in the last decade and reflect a rich diversity of styles and themes, from Daniel Boulanger's exploration of revenge and the desire for recognition, to Alain Gerber's brief and poetic 'You Never Die' and the sardonic tales of Frederic Fajardie and Sylvie Massicotte.

Complete with notes, the stories make excellent reading in either language.

 

About the French Language

French is the most northerly of the ROMANCE LANGUAGES that descend from Latin, the language of the Roman Empire. Historically it is the language of northern France: it became France's national language, and spread to many other parts of the world with French conquest and trade. The Celtic-speaking inhabitants of Gaul were among the first non-Italians to take a full part in the culture of the Roman Empire. Not surprisingly, there are Celtic loanwords in Latin and in all the Romance languages. There are a few documents and religious texts in French of the 10th and 11th centuries, but the first real flowering of French literature is in epics, the first and greatest being the Chanson de Roland `Song of Roland' of around 1200. They were recorded in manuscript form for oral recitation. From this beginning, French poetry soon be¬came more varied and more consciously literary. Although the language of Paris and of the neighbouring royal monastery of Saint-Denis was already influential, medieval French texts have varied dialect links. This is natural since Paris was not the only major centre of French cultural life. After the Norman conquest in 1066, London was another: for nearly two centuries after that date not English but the Anglo-Norman variety of French was the usual lan¬guage of literature in England (alongside Latin). The oldest and best manuscript of the Chanson de Roland is Anglo-Norman.

As the connections between England and France grew more distant, Anglo-Norman –instead of developing into a new modern Ro¬mance language – regressed to a jargon of law¬yers and courtiers. Its descendant, 'Law French', can still be found in fossilised phrases in modern English legal terminology. But English, now revived as a language of culture and literature, had taken in a mass of loanwords from French, involving most aspects of everyday life, often providing near-synonyms to Germanic words: thus while English still uses Germanic terms such as ox, sheep, pig for the domesticated ani¬mals, it uses the French loanwords beef, mutton, pork (modern French boeuf 'ox', mouton 'sheep', pore 'pig') for their meat. Meanwhile Paris was asserting its position at the centre of French culture. The central role of French, the French of Paris, followed from this. Two landmarks are the foundation of the Uni¬versity of Paris, chartered in 1231; the spread of printing, at the end of the 15th century; and the Ordonnance de Villers-Gotteret, 1539, which ruled that legal proceedings in France must be en langaige maternel francois, 'in the French mother tongue'. In practice, this asserted the uniquely privileged status of French not only against Latin but also against OCCITAN, BRETON, BASQUE and the local dialects or patois of French. Yet French does borrow from its regional languages: bijou 'jewel' is a Breton loanword, while bouillabaisse 'fish soup' is one of many food words borrowed from Occitan dialects.

By the 16th century, French was the language of an astonishingly rich literature – and writings in French were read, admired, translated and imitated across all of western Europe. Among the greatest of older classics had been the poetic Romance of the Rose (adapted in English by Chau¬cer), the Arthurian romance sequence Lancelot (the main source for Malory's English Morte Darthure) and the vivid chronicles of the Hun¬dred Years War written – in French that was influenced by his native Picard dialect – by Jean Froissart. The 16th century was a period of exciting and varied experiment, and also of much linguistic borrowing from Latin and from Italian. A reaction followed, often identified with the influence of Francois de Malherbe (1555-1628). Written French became a rule-bound language, with an artificially restricted vocabulary. In spite of the Enlightenment and in spite of the French Revolution and all that has followed, in many ways written French is still rule-bound. Spelling and usage are overseen by the Academie Francaise, a self-elected college of eminent authors and intellectuals, under govern¬ment patronage. Standard French differs rather widely from most people's everyday speech. Traditional French verse, which some still write, demands a special pronunciation (see box). For all this, French remains the language of a very rich and flourishing literary culture, in some ways the most vital in Europe.

 

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