Reading Le Monde - HELP!!!!

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Re: Reading Le Monde - HELP!!!!

Postby Arnaud » Mon Feb 20, 2017 5:48 am

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William Camden
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Re: Reading Le Monde - HELP!!!!

Postby William Camden » Mon Feb 20, 2017 12:10 pm

I don't find Le Monde especially difficult, although when I set out to improve my French years ago, I chose Le Monde Diplomatique, which is a monthly newspaper.
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Re: Reading Le Monde - HELP!!!!

Postby PeterMollenburg » Mon Feb 20, 2017 8:15 pm

Based on comments here by some posters, I've developped an easy-to-very-difficult progressive list of newspapers.

Facile
Le Parisien

Intermédiaire
Libération
Le Figaro

haut intermédiaire
Le Journal de dimanche
Le Point
Courrier International (traductions)

Difficile
Le Monde

Plus difficile
Le Monde Diplomatique

Très difficile
Le Canard Enchaîné

Anyone care to add to/ edit/ alter this list? The category 'haut internédiaire' is pretty sketchy.
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Re: Reading Le Monde - HELP!!!!

Postby BalancingAct » Mon Feb 20, 2017 8:24 pm

Le Monde diplomatique is not more difficult than Le Monde; it is just more international/global in scope and is a monthly.
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Re: Reading Le Monde - HELP!!!!

Postby William Camden » Tue Feb 21, 2017 7:06 am

BalancingAct wrote:Le Monde diplomatique is not more difficult than Le Monde; it is just more international/global in scope and is a monthly.

I would have thought it was the same in difficulty, more or less. There is a lot in it but when I have needed to boost my French, especially vocabulary, I tend to buy one and work through it systematically with a dictionary, or these days, computer at hand.
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Re: Reading Le Monde - HELP!!!!

Postby Atinkoriko » Mon Apr 10, 2017 1:15 am

I don't find any of the newspapers on that list difficult at all, and I read Le Monde Diplomatique without needing to sub vocalize and without needing to look up vocab.

I'd read Le Canard Enchaine the same way if not for the more obscure vocab that I'd need to look up first
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Re: Reading Le Monde - HELP!!!!

Postby whatiftheblog » Mon Apr 10, 2017 3:01 am

issemiyaki wrote:Also, searching for French books has always been weird for me. It's easy for me to walk into an American bookstore and be intrigued by some biography on Hillary Clinton or some tell-all book by a White House staffer. In a French bookstore, however, I'm like a fish out of water. I've only recently starting to develop a clearer idea of the political players on the French scene.

When you say Bill Clinton is publishing a memoir, provided you haven't been living under a rock, most people well be able to bring an enormous amount of cultural background knowledge to the reading experience, making it meaningful and interesting. But if you ask me to read about about Manuel Valls, that requires a level of cultural knowledge I don't have, which maybe is why I should read the book.

So, I'm open to biographies or 1st-person political memoirs in French. I think that could be rather interesting.


I'm not really exaggerating when I say I live for French politics, and the political landscape is just so delightful and rich and juicy that you can start practically anywhere and have a ton of fun with it. I think the best way to engage with it is actually by watching debates and political talk shows - all of the major candidates have gone on L'Emission Politique, for instance: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCALQmB ... fXg/videos (for the full versions, see the videos marked Replay Integral). Don't worry if you get lost in the humor section at the end, Charline Vanhoenacker is fantastic, but a lot of the jokes require really in-depth familiarity with French politics.

From there, Un président ne devrait pas dire ça will pretty much catch you up on the entirety of the last 5 years.

To your other questions about print material, L'Express and Le Point are my two favorite printed publications. I buy L'Express through their iPhone app and have an online subscription to Le Monde. Depending on the week, I'll also pick up print copies of L'Obs & Paris Match. Interestingly, for the longest time, I had more trouble reading Paris Match than I did with Le Monde; that's since been fixed.

For more digestible humor, check out Le Gorafi.
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Re: Reading Le Monde - HELP!!!!

Postby whatiftheblog » Mon Apr 10, 2017 5:44 pm

Sorry for the double post, but I came across a clip that may serve as a good example for this discussion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Uha6pgO23g



It's only 2:21 long, but they speak very, very fast and the whole thing is peppered with complex political/social references (I think it's absolutely hilarious). If you don't have a really good grip on the discussions of the day in France, it might be completely incomprehensible. I wanted to write "French is frustrating that way", but it's actually true for just about any language.
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Re: Reading Le Monde - HELP!!!!

Postby hoefferd » Mon Apr 17, 2017 1:17 pm

I'm going to disagree with those who say that this is somehow educated writing. My active French is only decent, but having almost native Italian allows me to read that sentence without too much effort, but also recognize it as the bad style that it is. Good writers don't write like that. When I see sentence constructions like that I see the police officer in a rural town in the mountains in Italy who manages to write a sentence of 112 words describing how some kid stole a scooter.

It's not desire for elegance and clarity guiding the author of sentences like that, it's the desire to elevate themselves over their readers with the contortions that earned them points with their provincial philosophy professor in high school. It's an attitude I despise with all my heart. And I say that as someone who does appreciate a long winded Thomas Mann style sentence -- when there's a justification for it.
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issemiyaki
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Re: Reading Le Monde - HELP!!!!

Postby issemiyaki » Mon Apr 17, 2017 1:54 pm

@hoefferd

You're a man/woman (not sure - doesn't matter) after my own heart. I could not agree with you more.

For the most part, I do find the writing in Le Monde quite good. But there are spots that give me problems. Also, since I'm not a native speaker, I am trying to temper my judgement. I'm not sure how much of it is tainted with my own frustration at not being able to understand the way native francophones write.

But I do find the long-winded sentences, particularly in newspaper writing, unnecessary. This is particularly egregious when facts are on the line. If you are writing a nuts-and-bolts type of article where you're just laying down what happened, there's no need to get super creative with that.

Most journalists have a deadline, and most of that time is not spent writing. It's spent researching, interviewing, making calls, traveling, etc. Only after all that is done, maybe there are a few hours left for writing the actual article. This is the case 90% of the time. (I know, I used to be a journalist.) And the reason they give you such a short period of time to write is because they are not expecting Tolstoy. They are expecting clear and concise writing. (With other types of articles, such as in-depth pieces, the writing tends to be better. And that comes as no surprise. They had more time to work on the story.)

I plan on writing the New York Times about this as well. Sometimes they will write long-winded lead sentences, trying to include everything but the kitchen sink. It's so bad that I, as a well-read native English speaker, have to re-read the first sentence to figure out what they are saying, only to find that they could have split the sentence in two.

I'm not against long sentences. When they are well-crafted, they can be great. I know Thomas Mann spent his days and nights re-reading what he wrote, as do many worthy novelists. Most journalists, maybe, reread what they wrote twice. The fancier you want the writing to be, the more time you will have to invest in editing.

Ahh, writing!
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