Flirting with French: How a Language Charmed Me, Seduced Me, and Nearly Broke My Heart

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9781616200206: Flirting with French: How a Language Charmed Me, Seduced Me, and Nearly Broke My Heart

“A delightful and courageous tale and a romping good read. Voila!” —Mark Greenside, author of I’ll Never Be French (No Matter What I Do) William Alexander is more than a Francophile. He wants to be French. There’s one small obstacle though: he doesn’t speak la langue française. In Flirting with French, Alexander sets out to conquer the language he loves. But will it love him back? Alexander eats, breathes, and sleeps French (even conjugating in his dreams). He travels to France, where mistranslations send him bicycling off in all sorts of wrong directions, and he nearly drowns in an immersion class in Provence, where, faced with the riddle of masculine breasts, feminine beards, and a turkey cutlet of uncertain gender, he starts to wonder whether he should’ve taken up golf instead of French. While playing hooky from grammar lessons and memory techniques, Alexander reports on the riotous workings of the Académie française, the four-hundred-year-old institution charged with keeping the language pure; explores the science of human communication, learning why it’s harder for fifty-year-olds to learn a second language than it is for five-year-olds; and, frustrated with his progress, explores an IBM research lab, where he trades barbs with a futuristic hand-held translator. Does he succeed in becoming fluent? Readers will be as surprised as Alexander is to discover that, in a fascinating twist, studying French may have had a far greater impact on his life than actually learning to speak it ever would. “A blend of passion and neuroscience, this literary love affair offers surprise insights into the human brain and the benefits of learning a second language. Reading William Alexander’s book is akin to having an MRI of the soul.” —Laura Shaine Cunningham, author of Sleeping Arrangements “Alexander proves that learning a new language is an adventure of its own--with all the unexpected obstacles, surprising breakthroughs and moments of sublime pleasure traveling brings.” —Julie Barlow, author of Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong

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From the Author:

One reader told me that Flirting with French was The $64 Tomato, but with Frenchman instead of groundhogs. My resident groundhog takes offense, but I hope that my losses at French are the readers' gain -- and laughter. Whether you've failed to learn French or Italian, Spanish or German, if you've ever tried to learn a foreign language, you'll relate to my experiences.

I might've learned more French if I'd spent less time delving into such mysteries as why a lamp has a gender; why the French have a dedicated word for "husband" but not for "wife," and where the heck is the hand-held universal language translator that Captain Kirk used 40 years ago, but someone has to answer these questions, so it may has well be moi.

I invite you to join me in my quest to become French. Au revoir!

From the Back Cover:

“A delightful and courageous tale and a romping good read. Voila!” —Mark Greenside, author of I’ll Never Be French (No Matter What I Do)

William Alexander is setting out to master the Art of French Speaking. In this entertaining amble through the French language and its colorful history, through linguistics and brain science, what Alexander discovers while not learning French is its own reward.

“A blend of passion and neuroscience, this literary love affair  offers surprising insights into the human brain and the benefits of learning a second language. Reading William Alexander’s book is akin to having an MRI of the soul.” —Laura Shaine Cunningham, author of Sleeping Arrangements

“Reading Flirting with French motivates me to continue courting the language, no matter how often I’m stood up midsentence!” —Kristen Espinasse, author of Words in a French Life

“Alexander proves that learning a new language is an adventure of its own--with all the unexpected obstacles, surprising breakthroughs, and moments of sublime pleasure that traveling brings.” —Julie Barlow, author of Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong

“Wry and warmhearted . . . A charming memoir by a passionate Francophile.” —Kirkus Reviews

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