When in French: Love in a Second Language

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9780008100599: When in French: Love in a Second Language

A language barrier is no match for love. Lauren Collins discovered this firsthand when, in her early thirties, she moved to London and fell for a Frenchman named Olivier—a surprising turn of events for someone who didn’t have a passport until she was in college. But what does it mean to love someone in a second language? Collins wonders, as her relationship with Olivier continues to grow entirely in English. Are there things she doesn’t understand about Olivier, having never spoken to him in his native tongue? Does “I love you” even mean the same thing as “je t’aime”? When the couple, newly married, relocates to Francophone Geneva, Collins—fearful of one day becoming "a Borat of a mother" who doesn’t understand her own kids—decides to answer her questions for herself by learning French.

When in French is a laugh-out-loud funny and surprising memoir about the lengths we go to for love, as well as an exploration across culture and history into how we learn languages—and what they say about who we are. Collins grapples with the complexities of the French language, enduring excruciating role-playing games with her classmates at a Swiss language school and accidently telling her mother-in-law that she’s given birth to a coffee machine. In learning French, Collins must wrestle with the very nature of French identity and society—which, it turns out, is a far cry from life back home in North Carolina. Plumbing the mysterious depths of humanity’s many forms of language, Collins describes with great style and wicked humor the frustrations, embarrassments, surprises, and, finally, joys of learning—and living in—French.

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An Amazon Best Book of September 2016: Lauren Collins was an expat from North Carolina, living in London, when she met and fell in love with the man who would eventually become her husband. Olivier hailed from France (in case the name didn’t give that away), and When in French chronicles Collins’s fascinating and often hilarious journey learning his native tongue. Along the way she discovers that this endeavor isn’t a simple matter of translating “I love you” to “je t'aime,” for example, and adding an enthusiastic haw-haw! at the end. In America, the meaning of love is vast. We are just as likely to express our extreme ardor for our partners as we are a bag of Cheetos. For Olivier, this sort of impreciseness was infuriating, which pointed to an important cultural difference that required careful negotiation. To say that When in French is mainly a meditation on language would be accurate (which I’m sure Olivier would appreciate). But that description makes it sound as boring as evidently Geneva is, and this memoir is anything but. You will laugh, you might even get misty-eyed, vous allez l'adorer. --Erin Kodicek, The Amazon Book Review

About the Author:

Lauren Collins began working at The New Yorker in 2003 and became a staff writer in 2008. Her subjects have included Michelle Obama, Donatella Versace, the graffiti artist Banksy, and the chef April Bloomfield. Since 2010, she has been based in Europe, covering stories from London, Paris, Copenhagen, and beyond.

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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers, United Kingdom, 2016. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR `Talking to you in English , he said, `is like touching you with gloves. A language barrier is no match for love. New Yorker journalist Lauren Collins discovers this first-hand when, in her early thirties, she moves to London and falls for Olivier, a Frenchman. As their relationship begins to grow, Lauren senses that there are things she doesn t understand about Olivier, having never spoken to him in his mother tongue. (Does `I love you even mean the same thing as `je t aime ?) And when they move to French-speaking Geneva, Lauren suddenly finds herself no longer able to talk to the local handymen or shop owners, let alone her husband s parents. Fearful of one day finding herself unable to communicate with her own children, Lauren decides to learn French. Along the way, she faces a series of challenges, from awkward role-playing games at her Swiss language school, to accidentally telling her mother-in-law that she s given birth to a coffee machine. But there are also unexpected pleasures: the delights of learning French words that have no English equivalent and the joys of winning her first argument against Olivier in his native tongue. A funny, thoughtful memoir, When in French considers how language shapes our lives, from how we think, to how we fall in love, and what happens when two languages, and two very different cultures, collide. Bookseller Inventory # AA89780008100599

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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers, United Kingdom, 2016. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR `Talking to you in English , he said, `is like touching you with gloves. A language barrier is no match for love. New Yorker journalist Lauren Collins discovers this first-hand when, in her early thirties, she moves to London and falls for Olivier, a Frenchman. As their relationship begins to grow, Lauren senses that there are things she doesn t understand about Olivier, having never spoken to him in his mother tongue. (Does `I love you even mean the same thing as `je t aime ?) And when they move to French-speaking Geneva, Lauren suddenly finds herself no longer able to talk to the local handymen or shop owners, let alone her husband s parents. Fearful of one day finding herself unable to communicate with her own children, Lauren decides to learn French. Along the way, she faces a series of challenges, from awkward role-playing games at her Swiss language school, to accidentally telling her mother-in-law that she s given birth to a coffee machine. But there are also unexpected pleasures: the delights of learning French words that have no English equivalent and the joys of winning her first argument against Olivier in his native tongue. A funny, thoughtful memoir, When in French considers how language shapes our lives, from how we think, to how we fall in love, and what happens when two languages, and two very different cultures, collide. Bookseller Inventory # AA89780008100599

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Book Description HARPER COLLINS. Book Condition: New. After a lifetime spent firmly in English, Lauren Collins suddenly finds herself adrift in French-speaking Geneva, unable to find the right words to purchase a lamp. In order to be closer to her new family, Lauren decides she will learn to live in French. French Lessons traces her story - part memoir, part reportage. Num Pages: 320 pages. Dimension: 216 x 135. Weight in Grams: 10. . 2016. Hardcover. . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Bookseller Inventory # V9780008100599

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