When in French: Love in a Second Language

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

  • Title: When in French: Love in a Second Language
  • Author: Lauren Collins
  • ISBN: 9781594206443
  • Page: 382
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 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 coA 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 accidentally 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.

    One thought on “When in French: Love in a Second Language”

    1. Collins, a journalist from North Carolina, married a Frenchman named Olivier she met while working in London. They then moved to Geneva, Switzerland, a mutually unfamiliar place but one where French reigned. For the first time, she was forced to learn a new language to survive. I love how she blends her own story with the philosophy, history and science behind language use.As she learned how to do things she never expected to have to in French – deal with her in-laws and give birth, for instan [...]

    2. I found myself skimming through this book because while it was witty and intelligent, with lots of facts about the English language, as well as French, I found it lacked the warmth of the writer. I could only feel surface accounts of her life, not really the emotion. It just left me 'cold.'I see that she writes for The New Yorker and this style of writing is appropriate for that kind of reportage. It isn't something I look for in a novel.

    3. This book started out as a memoir about Lauren Collins attempting to learn French after marrying a Frenchman and moving to his home country. Then it became a history of the French language. Then it turned back into a memoir. This switching back and forth continued through the rest of the book. While both the memoir and the history were interesting, she needed to focus on one aspect or the other for the entirety of the book so we could get a full story, rather than just snippets of two different [...]

    4. This book can't quite decide what it wants to be - a cute little memoir about falling in love, marrying and living with a Francophone, or an examination of sociolinguistics, or a discussion about what makes France and the French so French. As a result, it jumps around a lot. I like all those things, but it never settled on anything. (Part of that is also her writing style, where she would suddenly launch into some non sequitur story, and only a page or two later would reveal the drawn-out metaph [...]

    5. When I saw the review in the NYT book review for this book, I thought that I might look into it at some point. Then turning to our local paper, I saw that the author would be at our local indy in the coming week, so I went and listened and bought a copy. She was charming and I really wanted her book to be, too.It isn't. It isn't "Love in a Second Language," as the sub-title describes, and it isn't a charming account of how the language barrier in the star-crossed relationship was ultimately over [...]

    6. In When in French we are invited into the world of American New Yorker staff-writer Lauren Collins, as she moves to Geneva to live with her new French husband Olivier, struggling to learn French and the customs and traditions of Switzerland as well as her new in-laws.When in French is an interesting read for any language nerd; in large parts, it reads like an essay, full of historical anecdotes and facts about the science, study, and art of language. But the book is also a memoir, mapping the co [...]

    7. There are some people who can write so well that I don't even care what they write about; Lauren Collins is one of these people. I love France, but this book really isn't much about France. I'm somewhat interested in languages but I don't know much about the details of learning them. And often I am bored with memoirs. Nevertheless, I read this book, start to finish, in a wave of absolute fascination. I was fascinated with Collins' observations about trying to make one's way in a world where one [...]

    8. This book was really good, but was done a horrible disservice by its subtitle, the frothy “Love in a Second Language.” Not only will it attract the wrong type of reader, who will feel tricked, it will repel the readers who would actually like it (they’ll be too embarrassed to pick it up). Instead of a light memoir of a romance with a dashing Frenchman (5% of the book), it’s a detailed look at the French language (the other 95%). Think French Lessons by Alice Kaplan rather than Bringing U [...]

    9. An utter delight. Especially recommended to anybody with more than one language or culture in your life. Monolinguals will certainly find the book eye-opening as well. And the writing is impeccable.

    10. A more original book than the jacket copy might suggest. While Collins does chronicle her marriage and expat life, describes her ambivalent relations with her husband's family, and describes relationship woes, there is little silliness here. (cf. Danielle Trussoni's recent (awful) memoir). I thought this was both an interesting memoir that mixed personal impressions, interpersonal dynamics, that at the same time introduced/reproduced predominant theories of second-language learning. Add to that [...]

    11. I thought this would be insightful and interesting. I think there is a lot of good material here, but initially Collins comes across as whiny. She's having an adventure, but is grumbling about her isolation with no apparent effort on her part to learn the language prior to her arrival in the French speaking country! Who wouldn't pick up Rosetta Stone the moment you fell in love with a Frenchman? She didn't. It should be a memoir, not a biography (my personal distinction is: the author isn't famo [...]

    12. 2.5 This book had my name written all over it - I lived in Geneva! I learnt French! I love Collins's work in The New Yorker! But when in French is much more academic than I was expecting. I loved the Geneva observations (though thought she was a little harsh) and I shared all her frustrations learning French. There's a lot here for Francophones and Francophiles - so much of the humour is in/at the expense of French. There's a lot about linguistics generally, too. I didn't want another American f [...]

    13. I really enjoyed this book, which was significantly more linguistically-nerdy than I expected. With the word love in the title, I expected more a memoir and love story. However, I was pleasantly surprised at all the linguistics-lite. I learned things about French as a language, even though I've already got two degrees in it. It made me want to be back in the French classroom again (where this knowledge might be useful)! Not to mention back in France I always enjoy a good trip back to France via [...]

    14. read this morning in bed. lovely, well-researched, considered. I found different ideas of intimacy - American/Anglo-Saxon 'letting it all hang out', versus romantic French notions of presentation or composure very interesting. “Bilinguals overwhelmingly report that they feel like different people in different languages. It is often assumed that the mother tongue is the language of the true self. (…) But, it first languages are reservoirs of emotion, second languages can be rivers undammed, f [...]

    15. This book is about an American woman's journey to become a French-speaker after she married a French man. He speaks fluent English, but her premise is that they can't truly understand each other unless they both speak each other's languages. Also, as the story begins, they are living in Geneva, Switzerland, and she feels isolated by the language barrier.Collins is a very good writer. Her stories about her language education are well-written and entertaining. But I felt that the book was not well [...]

    16. "When in French" is a fun and funny exploration of linguistics theory through the experiences of a first-time French learner. As an American francophone (and an American dating a Frenchman), it was pertinent and personal. Stylistically, I thought the book was overwrought and overweight with frilly vocabulary. But I enjoyed reading about her romance with Olivier and the French language, and appreciated the linguistics and history lessons sprinkled throughout.

    17. Meh, I really wanted to love this one. But then the personal anecdotes are nice, but not enough to really make it a worthwhile read for me. And at the same time it seems most of the linguistics recited here come straight out of Guy Deutscher's Through the Language Glass. Which I had read earlier this year (and loved). tl;dr: too little new for me to have much fun. Worthwhile for people in bilingual relationships that haven't run into much linguistics before.

    18. This book was like my last EKG - all over the place. At first annoying. Who marries into another culture without first taking an intensive language course? Why marry a Frenchman and then spend the ensuing two years complaining about French? Annoying! Then lots of backstory about language. Unexpected, as I imagined the book would be a light hearted romp. Some of it interesting. Some not so much. I'd give it a 2.5 for my enjoyment, but a 3 for the work the author put into it.

    19. I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Originally I thought it was going to be another one of those woman meets Frenchman , woman marries Frenchman and amusing anecdotes ensue. While it was that, there was so much more to the story and Collins uses her relationship with her husband, family & friends as a jumping off point to explore the way in which language effects our relationships and our lives. Very well written, amusing and informative. I enjoyed this very much

    20. While I greatly enjoyed a lot of the facts Collins shared about the French language and language acquisition, I would have preferred either a more straightforward memoir or a study of language acquisition. I didn't find the book entirely cohesive. It did give me hope that someday I'll be bilingual too.

    21. I liked the book OK. The writing is not great and it gets long at times. The author also changes topics in a weird way which I don't think adds anything to the style, I mostly found it odd.There a few funny anecdotes on cross-cultural and cross-language differences.

    22. This was just wonderful fun to read. Smart and romantic and, at times, hilarious. Clearly Lauren Collins loves language and the way she navigates between English and the language of her new love, Olivier, is filled with wit and delightful, particular words. I copied some of my favorite passages and have been reading them to my brother and to friends. I think my son, who studied language and loves the way thinking, culture and language intersect, would love this book. Here are the passages, simpl [...]

    23. 3.5, rounding up. I liked the second half much more than the first. If you haven’t learned a second language (French in particular) and you aren’t interested in language acquisition or French, then this book is really not for you. I have a degree in French, studied abroad in Strasbourg and was a high school French teacher, so my interest level was there and I could relate to her observations of and experiences with the French language and people. That being said, the book feels a little ramb [...]

    24. This is an enchantingly personal story of an American falling in love with a French man, and learning his culture and language. Collins switches between the story of her marriage and other issues related to linguistics in the U.S. and the world at large. She’s a fun and clever writer musing about some of my favorite topics, so this went down a treat. She quotes studies that say it takes an average of 600 hours to learn another language. Even though this seems like a modest investment, I’m la [...]

    25. 2/12/18: Hearing about this book, I was intrigued, but worried that it would be too chick lit cute--you know, American girl who speaks no French falls in love with a Frenchman. They marry. Chaos and humor ensue. (And the title doesn't help.)But I was wrong--Lauren Collins does write for The New Yorker, after all, and boy, can she write. This memoir is a fascinating mix of personal history, linguistic study, cultural observations, and self-reflection. The chick lit part--the history of how she me [...]

    26. Very enjoyable read. There is an interesting personal narrative that forms the backbone of the book, but the author also reflects throughout the book on the role(s) of other languages in American and European society, the quality of U.S. education, on research into the relationship of language and culture, and on trans-language communication. The book is, at times, amusing, interesting, inspiring, and revelatory. It is soundly backed by published research. And it tells a good story.

    27. I was really cross at the beginning of this book. First you have an american woman talking about linguistics and how americans drown other languages and never learn anything while there she was: MARRIED to a french man, living in another country and yet, no french. Not even talking about learning french to understand the human she picked to marry.I mean, opinions opinions but doesn't that say something? One of the first thing that comes to mind when I think of relationships is communications and [...]

    28. This was the worst thing ever it was like having both an extremely naive person and an extremely terrible storytelling abilities and mashing them up,adding two used fun facts, and raising the volume to 50 billion thousand.For example!!!! She starts talking about how she feels so Lonely in Switzerland!!! But she doesn't do anything to change it for e v e r she just stays in Lonely and Wallows in Herself.

    29. 3.5—sought the book after reading an excerpt in the New Yorker. It was enjoyable! Maybe the structure of the back and forth in time was a bit jumbled, but overall it was cute.

    30. I’ll admit, I didn’t go into this book thinking I would love it as much as I did. I’m neither a bookworm who loves romance stories, nor a bookworm who loves memoirs (exception: Jackie Kay’s Red Dust Road). But the themes of Lauren Collins’ When in French: Love in a Second Language (Penguin Press 2016) – how it feels to fall in love with someone in your second language, and how ultimately, you develop a relationship with language itself – really drew me in as a language-lover. In th [...]

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