Thursday, March 9, 2006

Je Peux Lire

A couple months ago, I started reading the Book of Mormon in French. I had bought myself a copy one day in the BYU Bookstore because I thought it might be fun to have, and when I finished reading the New Testament, I decided, heck, why not? Right away I was pleasantly surprised at how much I could understand, especially since it had been two and a half years since my last French class and I had hardly read or spoken any French since.

I expected to run into a lot of obscure or archaic vocabulary, but it all seemed relatively simple, and I’ve been able to pick up a lot of things just from context and from familiarity with the Book of Mormon in English. The only thing that was a little odd at first was the passé simple. We never really learned it in class because it’s considered a “literary” tense—nobody uses it in speech anymore. But even that was pretty easy to get the hang of, though I had a bit of trouble with fis and fus and vit and vint at first.

Things are getting a little trickier now that I’m getting into the Isaiah chapters, though. Nephi and Jacob are so clear and easy to understand; Isaiah uses very different vocabulary and grammar. Sometimes it takes me several nights to get through one chapter just because it’s such so going.

The sad thing about this whole experience so far is that it hasn’t improved my speaking ability at all. My pronunciation is still terrible, and though I recognize most words when I see them, I still have trouble thinking of the right word when I’m trying to speak. But I guess I’d have to actually, you know, speak it for that to change.

Blog 6 Replies to “Je Peux Lire”
Jonathon Owen


6 thoughts on “Je Peux Lire

    Author’s gravatar

    I’ve been reading the Book of Mormon in Romanian. I’ve been crusing along (at a slow space, but still cruising), but I too just hit the Isaiah chapters in 2 Nephi. Not only am I running across vocabulary I’m not familiar with, but also consonant combinations that I had no idea existed in the language.

    Today’s example: zdrun.

    Author’s gravatar

    Not that this has anything to do with the post, but it’s funny that you interviewed there, too. And no, I don’t think it was silly of you to make the drive out–they pay well for a starting position. Did it take you an hour to get past the security guards?

    And yeah–I didn’t realize it was going to take another 15 minutes from the gate to the place of employment. That thing is so far from anywhere. Which I guess is the point. I’m really hoping I can find work a little closer, though.

    Author’s gravatar

    Well, I sort of ended up canceling on them. I looked over the job listing on and saw that the schedule is four ten-hour days, and that’s just something I can’t do. So that, combined with the fact that it’s over an hour from civilization and with the fact that I don’t even want to go into tech writing, I decided it would be a monumental waste of my time.

    So how did it go?

    Author’s gravatar

    Ooooh, I sort of hate to do this, but I think you’re the type who won’t mind. “Je *peux* lire” implies physical ability, like you’re not blind any more or something. “Je *sais* lire” would imply ability in terms of acquired knowledge.

    Just putting that French B.A. to good use. :)

    Author’s gravatar

    Zut. I was afraid of that. I waffled for a little bit, but Google turned up more hits for “je peux lire” than “je sais lire,” so I ignored my poor, neglected Frenchie instincts.

    And no, I totally don’t mind.

    Author’s gravatar

    Ahh. I don’t blame you. By the time we got lost, drove through whiteouts, and waited at the gait for over an hour, I wished we had never come.

    The interview itself went okay, though. It’s a job I think I’d enjoy. Of course, I’d enjoy it a lot more if it weren’t five hundred miles from civilization.

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