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Aug 21

Murder on the Rue Cassette by Susan Russo Anderson

Posted on Friday, August 21, 2015 in Mystery/Cop, Reviews

From the description on Amazon:

The story begins in Paris at the famous First Impressionist Exhibit on April 15, 1874. But later that night, when the body of a countess is found in the Rue Cassette, Serafina is sent by the slain woman’s wealthy father to investigate the brutal murder. Her budget bountiful, Serafina and her entourage stay at the plush Hôtel du Louvre, dine at Véfour and La Maison Dorée, interview friends of the deceased, have a midnight snack at Les Halles, visit with Berthe Morisot, Cézanne, Les Mardistes and other artists, and lock horns with the French police. As the plot twists, Serafina and her friends find themselves in the savage grip of a mind gone feral.

This is the third book in the series (or fourth, counting a novella, that only existed in e book form).

As I have mentioned before, I really like this series of mysteries, set in 1860’s Italy (Sicily). One thing I really like is that the main characters are so nice and interesting.

Just like the other books in the series, this is a well written mystery, in a fascinating setting, with a number of well developed characters.

Jul 8

Language: French

Posted on Tuesday, July 8, 2008 in Humanities

My third language was French. It’s not very difficult either, at least I don’t think so. Sure there are some irregular verbs, but I never worried much about that. That might be because I was quite young at the time. I’ve read that if you learn your first foreign language before the age of six, any other language you learn after that will be easier too. And speaking of learning languages, though this may be irrelevant, I recently read that if you play a musical instrument, it makes it easier to learn (any subject, apparently).

French is quite a beautiful language. Though I don’t find Swedish, Finnish and English particularly ugly. I won’t tell you which languages I find ugly. One of the difficulties with French is that it’s quite difficult to get enough practice. The best you can do is travel to France and stay there for at least a year. But how many people can do that? I’ve realized that I’ll never be completely fluent in French, and I’ve accepted that.

I’m doing my best with what I’ve got. I watch tv, read fiction, and listen to French music. As it happens, there are several sci fi books by French author Jules Verne. My favorite book is Voyage au centre du terre (Journey to the Centre of the Earth). I’ve also read Paris au XXìeme siècle (Paris in the Twentieth Century), but that wasn’t such a good book. It’s easy to understand why Verne’s publisher wouldn’t accept that book. When I was a child I used to read some French books (translated into Swedish).One of those is Tistou les pouces verts (Sorry, don’t know what that’s called in English) by Maurice Druon. I’ve read it recently and I have to say that it’s probably the sort of story a child will appreciate more.

I’ve also found a series of historic mysteries by a guy called Jean-Francois Parot. The series is about Nicolas Le Floch, who works as a police officer in Paris in the 18 century, during l’Ancien Régime (before the Revolution).

Of course, you can cheat. Read books translated into French. I’ve done that, but it isn’t all that great, if you want to learn the language properly. The book was first written in one language, then the translator has to create a version of the book in his or her language. How much of the original language flavor is lost that way?

The French and the Belgians make lots of great comics. That’s one good way of practicing a language. TinTin and Laureline et Valerian (not sure what they’re called in English, sorry) are a few good examples, and there are many others. Read them if you’re into comics.

French is of course, spoken in France, but also in Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Monaco, parts of Africa, parts of Asia and in parts of Canada, primarily Quebec. Also in the Caribbean (several islands, where people also speak creole, which is supposed to be based on French), and South America (French Guyana) and in some smaller islands in the Pacific and the Indian Ocean.

There are different opinions about how many people really speak French in the world today. To some extent that depends how you define ‘francophone’. Does that include everyone who speaks French as their first language, or everyone who is able to communicate relatively fluently in French, or everyone who has ever studied French for a few years? In any case, the number of French speaking people is somewhere between 100 miljoner and more than 200 miljoner. It’s said that French is the most useful language to learn, unless you count English, though that is being said about Spanish and a few other languages as well.

With Christianity and the increasing influence of the church, latin became mixed into Swedish (and most likely the same thing happened Norway and Denmark as well).

During the 17 and 18 century, France was a major political power in Europe (though up until the early 1700’s, Sweden too, was a political power to be reckoned with, at least in the Baltic area). From France terms connected to science and culture made its way into the Swedish language (and many other European languages).

Finally (well, up until now), during the second half of the 20 century, English began its victorious conquest of the other languages of the world. Of course, as I’ve already explained, I prefer to call this version of the English language Anglo.

The reason for this is that I don’t speak English, and neither do my friends in Lithuania and India. We’re not English and we don’t live in England. Some people do their best to imitate the English as it’s spoken in England or in the US. I prefer not to. I’ve never spent much time in the UK – never for longer than about two weeks at a time.


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