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Brighter French


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Table of Contents

[CHAPTER 1] A PRELIMINARY CANTER ('Un petit galop') -- SOME TABLE TALK ('Quelques propos de table') on life, love, drink, crime & gambling (from French literature of the 1920s); -- [CHAPTER 2] A FEW LITTLE STORIES ('Quelques petites histoires'): Gossip ('Potins'), Definitions & Riddles ('Definitions & Enigmes'); -- [CHAPTER 3] A LITTLE TRIP TO PARIS ('La Passade a Paris, en six actes'): Getting There (in six Acts), At the Couture House, At Monsieur's Tailor, The Telephone (& telephoning); -- [CHAPTER 4] TWO WONDERFUL VERBS ('Deux verbes merveilleux'): 'Faire' (210 specimens) & 'Porter' (30 specimens); -- [CHAPTER 5] USEFUL TIPS ('Le Mot juste'): When ('quand, lorsque - '), More ('davantage, plus que, de plus - '), 'Sur' (on, over, in, across, to - ), Half ('la moitie, le demi - '), Compound adjectives: 'Tout' and its peculiarities, 'Dans, en, a - ' (& place-names), 'Oui, non, si, ne - pas, point - ', Belgian French; -- [CHAPTER 6] MORE TABLE TALK ('Autres propos de table'): 236 Idiomatic Sentences ('236 phrases idiomatiques - en anglais & francais') from French literature of the period; -- [CHAPTER 7] AT THE RACES, POLICE & FIRE BRIGADE, and MOTORING [of 1927] ('Aux courses, Police & Pompiers,& L'Automobilisme de 1927); -- [CHAPTER 8] STILL MORE TABLE TALK ('Autres propos de table'): Another 236 Idiomatic Sentences ('236 phrases idiomatiques supplementaires') from French literature of the period; -- [CHAPTER 9] CORRESPONDENCE, TITLES & STYLES ('Correspondance, Titres & Qualites'): Correspondence -- Letters, beginnings & endings etc., Addresses, telegrams, etc. -- Titles & Styles -- 'Monsieur, Madame' etc., Surnames ('Noms de famille'), Titles of Royalty & Nobility, Ambassadors, Ecclesiastics etc., Naval & Military Ranks; -- [CHAPTER 10] Photo Gallery, Acknowledgements & Sources.

About the Author

When 'Brighter French' was first published in 1927, the author was identified only by his initials 'H-T-R-'. No one knew who 'H-T-R-' was, but he seemed to be someone well-heeled. In his world, 'the real French of everyday life' was 'the spoken language of the dinner-table, the boudoir, the theatre, race-course, promenade-deck, stables, garage, etc.' His full name was Harry Thompson Russell, a multi-talented man who lived an eventful life - the first part of it conventional, the second less so. He was born in Ireland in 1875, brought up in Milford House, County Limerick, and went to school at Cheltenham College in England (where he excelled academically) and then joined the Royal Artillery as a cadet. He was mentioned in Despatches in the second Boer War; authored a number of military manuals, including 'A French-English Military Vocabulary'; won a prestigious prize for a remarkable military essay in 1911, and retired with the rank of Lieut.-Colonel at the end of World War I. He had married Alicia Studdert of Bunratty Castle, County Clare, in 1902, and they had four children. Prior to the war, they lived in South Africa, in Ireland (County Cork), and at Dinard in France. So far, so very conventional; then in 1926, H-T-R- divorced and remarried, to Marion Lee of County Dublin. Cut off from his former comfortable life and needing money to support a new family, a H-T-R- emerged that the Bright Young People might have found easier to understand. He and his new wife worked as private detectives in London for a time. Then 'Brighter French' was published and was a huge hit. Two more books followed, including 'The Brighter French Word-Book' in 1929 and 'Still Brighter French' in 1932, and Harry and his family moved to Montpellier in the south of France. In 1940, the family returned to England as war refugees, with nothing except 'what they stood up in.' In his final years, Harry worked as a head gardener and did translations of books from several languages, including Italian and German. He died in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, in 1953, where his granddaughter still lives. Other grandchildren (by his first marriage) live in County Cork.


' - And what wonderful, idiomatic gems he provides for us (with tongue firmly in cheek) under topic headings such as 'A Little Trip to Paris', 'More Table Talk', 'Useful Tips' (some good grammatical points), Two Wonderful Verbs ('faire' and 'porter'). - The phrases ring constantly true. I can hear my French colleagues speaking like this: 'il faut que je me sauve. On m'attend.' (I must fly. They're waiting for me). The section on motoring in 1927 is not just of historical interest - several of the phrases would have come in very handy recently when I was in South-West France. - Our Language Library shelves at Oxford are stacked high with textbooks which meet the criteria for being notional-functional, communicative, or content-based, which are full of worthy tasks, pair and group work suggestions, practical vocabulary for doing and saying things, exercises and more exercises. But few courses these days have what might be called intrinsically interesting or amusing content which might engage learners in any real sense of the word. H-T-R is attempting to genuinely engage his learners. When did readers last read a really good dialogue in a language textbook with a real sense of conversation and a good punchline? For those with faltering school French, these books provide a breath of fresh air, quite a few laughs and some really useful idiomatic French - '[ - Elsevier SYSTEM MAGAZINE (2010), Robert Vanderplank, Director, Language Centre, University of Oxford]. -- ' - that brilliant anonymous volume Brighter French reveals very clearly the idiomatic raciness of the French language and the essential humanity of those who speak it.'[ - N. Scarlyn Wilson, in the Preface of TEACH YOURSELF FRENCH (in its 36th impression 1980)]. -- ' - when you start to read, you giggle. This naughty guide to flappers' French is full of useful phrases. - This is your ticket to gay Paree.'[ - EVENING HERALD (2011)]. -- 'one of the best French language books ever written.'[ - WILTSHIRE TIMES (2010)]. -- ' - Great Fun.'[ - Books Ireland (2010)]. -- 'One's only fear is that a complete absorption of its contents might result in the "Bright Young People (who already know some)" knowing a trifle too much!'[ - JOHN O'LONDON'S WEEKLY (1927)].

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