An Amusing Oddity of the Pimsleur French Program

As I noted in “Reading Alain Badiou’s “Being and Event” 1: An Introduction (Or Perhaps Not),” way back on July 24 of this year, one of the goals I have set for myself is that of taking up again the project of becoming truly fluent in French. One part of that project involves working my way through the Pimsleur French 1 through 4 series of recordings

The program includes a few oddities, one which I find particularly amusing. Let me say first, however, that I recommend the Pimsleur program without hesitation, though not without qualification. Its strength, and it is very much a strength, is that working your way through the program will do far more for you in the way of enabling you to actually hear and to speak the language than the standard four semesters of introductory and intermediate college French will, although, on the other hand, it will not provide you with nearly as much in the way of instruction and practice in reading and writing. (I compare the Pimsleur French series with the four semesters of introductory and intermediate college French as with the nearest equivalent that comes to mind.)

Now, the amusing oddity: At a certain point in the sixth minute of the third lesson of Pimsleur French 2, the program’s English-speaking guide presents students with the English equivalent of the next French expression they are to master, that is, “‘See you later,’ literally, ‘Until later’.”

Then the program’s French-speaking guide directs them, “Écoutez et répétez” (“Listen and repeat,” of course), followed by the following series of pronunciations by a pleasant-voiced French-speaking woman:

À plus tard

plus tard

À

À plus tard

Then the English-speaking guide asks, “What part of that means, ‘See you’?” The answer given:

À

This is quite wrong-headed. While it is very much the case that the French equivalent of “See you later” is “À plus tard,” it is just as very much not the case that the French equivalent of “See you” is “À”; the “À,” of course, means “Until.”

About Rchard E. Hennessey

See above, "About the Author/Editor."
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