Reading Le Monde - HELP!!!!

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issemiyaki
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Reading Le Monde - HELP!!!!

Postby issemiyaki » Sun Feb 19, 2017 3:24 am

Can someone tell me why Le Monde has to be so impossibly difficult to read??

I swear they go out of their way to find the most confusing way of saying things.

The was an example from a recent article: "Le bois Lejuc, une forêt de 220 hectares sous laquelle doit être creusé, à 500 mètres sous terre, ce cimetière atomique, est devenu le « bois à défendre », en écho à la zone à défendre de Notre-Dame-des-Landes (Loire-Atlantique)."

Don't even get me started on the sentence structure. I call them run-on sentences. I know people will say it's cultural, but I call it bad editing. I know French people who roll their eyes when they see sentence structures like this.

The New York Times and the Economist often write these long-winded sentences. I have sent them emails telling them to cut it out. LOL. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I can't follow long sentences. But not everybody knows how to write long sentences well.

I've been reading French for a long time now, and I can't crack these papers.

Sorry about my frustration. I'm currently taking a class where we have to read the newspaper and we're graded on it, thus the added stress.

So any tips would be greatly appreciated.
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reineke
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Re: Reading Le Monde - HELP!!!!

Postby reineke » Sun Feb 19, 2017 3:59 am

The French are not at fault. I had to look up what's happening at Notre-Dame-des-Landes but the sentence is easy to read after that. Place names are long, that's all.

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Long sentences in literature

One of the shorter ones:

"The French are certainly misunderstood: — but whether the fault is theirs, in not sufficiently explaining themselves, or speaking with that exact limitation and precision which one would expect on a point of such importance, and which, moreover, is so likely to be contested by us — or whether the fault may not be altogether on our side, in not understanding their language always so critically as to know “what they would be at” — I shall not decide; but ‘tis evident to me, when they affirm, “That they who have seen Paris, have seen every thing,” they must mean to speak of those who have seen it by day-light.”

Laurence Sterne, “The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy.”

http://thejohnfox.com/long-sentences/
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issemiyaki
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Re: Reading Le Monde - HELP!!!!

Postby issemiyaki » Sun Feb 19, 2017 4:25 am

I agree. There are definitely a cultural hurdles one must overcome to understand French press.

But thanks to you, I realized that I had forgotten to use one of my techniques, background knowledge. When I saw zone à défendre, I just assumed my French sucked. It turns out that zone à défendre is a separate concept in and of itself. (They're called ZADs. This is when people physically block development projects that could harm the environment.)

Also, en echo à, is a set phrase that I am unfamiliar with.

So, a cultural and a grammatical obstacle, all in the same sentence. Clearly enough to cause a near meltdown. LOL.
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Arnaud
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Re: Reading Le Monde - HELP!!!!

Postby Arnaud » Sun Feb 19, 2017 5:20 am

Le Monde is not difficult to read and is extremely well edited. Your level is perhaps simply not sufficient enough: you can start with "Le Parisien" which is more popular and uses a more limited asset of words and then transition to Libération (left wing) or Le Figaro (right wing) and then transition to Le Monde.
Another good "juge de paix" is Le Canard Enchaîné, which is very rich in expressions and references to pop culture: here's an article (the Duck is not available in electronic format, you can only find a few scans on the net)
When you can read Le Monde, Le Monde Diplo and Le Canard without problems, you can estimate your level as very good.
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issemiyaki
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Re: Reading Le Monde - HELP!!!!

Postby issemiyaki » Sun Feb 19, 2017 5:35 am

Arnaud - you can't possibly tell me that that sentence that posted in my earlier post is "well-edited." You mean to tell me you can't see, even a little, how that sentence could be even SLIGHTLY confusing?

I have already read other newspapers. I was instructed to read Le Monde to take my reading to the next level.

What do you think of:

- Marianne
- Le journal de dimanche
- Le Point
- L'Express
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aokoye
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Re: Reading Le Monde - HELP!!!!

Postby aokoye » Sun Feb 19, 2017 5:54 am

issemiyaki wrote:Arnaud - you can't possibly tell me that that sentence that posted in my earlier post is "well-edited." You mean to tell me you can't see, even a little, how that sentence could be even SLIGHTLY confusing?

So French isn't really one of my languages so I didn't read the sentence you posted. That said is the sentence confusing because it's complex or because it's just "bad" grammar? If it's just complex then that's not necessarily a matter of bad grammar rather it's an issue of it being written at a level higher than you can read. Again, that doesn't make it poorly edited as for better or worse different publications are at different reading levels.
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DaveBee
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Re: Reading Le Monde - HELP!!!!

Postby DaveBee » Sun Feb 19, 2017 6:33 am

aokoye wrote:
issemiyaki wrote:Arnaud - you can't possibly tell me that that sentence that posted in my earlier post is "well-edited." You mean to tell me you can't see, even a little, how that sentence could be even SLIGHTLY confusing?

So French isn't really one of my languages so I didn't read the sentence you posted. That said is the sentence confusing because it's complex or because it's just "bad" grammar? If it's just complex then that's not necessarily a matter of bad grammar rather it's an issue of it being written at a level higher than you can read. Again, that doesn't make it poorly edited as for better or worse different publications are at different reading levels.
Good writing is clear writing. If the meaning of a sentence is not clear, then it can be improved.
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issemiyaki
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Re: Reading Le Monde - HELP!!!!

Postby issemiyaki » Sun Feb 19, 2017 6:37 am

Here, here, DaveBee!
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Arnaud
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Re: Reading Le Monde - HELP!!!!

Postby Arnaud » Sun Feb 19, 2017 7:38 am

For me the sentence is perfectly clear.
Ok, you want two sentences instead of one, with a "simplication" of the vocab:
Le bois Lejuc est une forêt de 220 hectares sous laquelle doit être creusé, à 500 mètres sous terre, un site d'enfouissement de déchets nucléaires. À l'instar de la zone à défendre de Notre-Dame-des-Landes (Loire-Atlantique), ce bois est devenu le « bois à défendre ».
It's a simple difference of style, the info is the same, it's a little longer to be clearer because "cimetière atomique" is negatively tinted, "site d'enfouissement de déchets nucléaires" is more neutral. Activists speak of "poubelle nucléaire" instead of "cimetière atomique".
ZAD (Zone à défendre) or GP2I (grand projet inutile et imposé) is a common terminology among ecologists, you'll often meet these abbreviations on Reporterre.net, for exemple.
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issemiyaki
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Re: Reading Le Monde - HELP!!!!

Postby issemiyaki » Sun Feb 19, 2017 7:57 am

Arnaud,

Thank you for your help. Clearly there was a lot of "unpack" in that sentence.

When you split the sentence, you clearly proved how many moving parts there were. In fact, both of the sentences contained a lot of information. In fact, when I got halfway through the original, I couldn't tell "who" was talking about "what."

Your version is, indeed, is 10x clearer for me. I had absolutely no problem.

Sure wish I could write to someone at Le Monde and ask them why that is their preferred style of writing? Maybe it says something about French culture. Arnaud, if you can add to that point, go right ahead.

The reason I have so many problems with this type of writing is that, again, when you get halfway through the sentence you don't know what's going on.
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