Monday, October 21, 2019

Understanding Brexit and the long-term trends involved

If you are on Academia (and it is free to join),  you can find a few previous talks I gave about Brexit.


You will also find here a class I gave last October on the question.


The talk I am giving tomorrow will end up on this blog in a week or two.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Agrégation: conférence sur Howard's End

Changement de salle
La conférence de Catherine Bernard sur Howards End aura lieu ce jeudi 24 octobre, de 10 h à 12h, en L206.

Friday, October 18, 2019

L3 popular culture : British cinema

We will be looking at the history of British cinema in a few weeks' time, but this article about Ken Loach's films just came out today. The style is rather annoying and supercilious, but still.


Contractions? No!
Si ce que vous traduisez n'est pas entre guillemets, faisant partie d'un dialogue, et le texte ne contient pas le mot "wesh" en français, ne mettez pas des contractions en anglais.

Thème M2/agrégation suggested translation passage from Martin du Gard

The booklet including the passage translated here can be found on this blog on September 4th. This suggested translation will only remain online for two weeks.

What appears to be happening here is that the daughter is extremely ill and may die,[1] but the mother does not know where her husband is. The story takes place around 1904, so we need to be careful not to introduce anachronisms.

Madame[2] de Fontanin went back to her home. Jenny was in bed, sleeping fitfully.[3] She raised[4] her feverish face, gave her mother an inquiring[5] look and closed her eyes again. 'Take Puce[6] away. The noise is hurting me [7]'.(*) Madame de Fontanin went back to her room and, suddenly feeling dizzy, sat down without even taking off her gloves. Was she going down with a fever  too? She must[8] stay calm, be strong, be confident. She bowed her head in prayer and then stood up purposefully. She had to contact her husband and get him to return.[9] She crossed the hallway,[10] paused[11] in front of a closed door, and then opened it. The room was cool and did not seem lived in.  The sharp smell of verbena and lemongrass, and a lingering odour of perfume emanated from it.  She drew back the curtains. There was a desk in the middle of the room. A fine layer of dust covered the blotter, but there were no papers around, no addresses, no clues at all. The keys of the furniture were in their locks. The occupant was quite trusting. She pulled open the desk drawer and revealed[12] a pile of letters, some photographs, a fan, and, rolled up in a corner, an ordinary black silk floss glove.[13] Her hand suddenly stiffened on the edge of the table. A memory struck her.[14] Her attention wandered and she stared into the distance… One summer[15] evening, two years previously,[16] as she was in a tram[17] travelling alongside the river, she thought she saw, and she sat up[18] and recognized Jérome, her husband.[19] He was sitting beside a woman, even leaning over a young woman on a bench, who was crying! And her cruel imagination, working on that fleeting perception, had many times taken pleasure in rearranging all the details – she saw again the woman’s vulgar grief, her hat slipping down[20] as she quickly pulled a coarse white handkerchief[21] from her petticoat, and above all, how Jérôme had kept his composure.[22] Oh, how certain[23] she felt that she had guessed from his attitude all the feelings that had beset him that evening. He showed[24] a measure of sympathy, of course, because she knew he was weak and easily moved, some irritation too at being the centre of such a scandalous incident in the street, and lastly, a part of callousness![25] Yes, he did! In his posture, half-leaning over but quite collected, she was sure she had seen the selfish calculations of the lover who has had enough, and who, already no doubt attracted by other fancies, has decided, despite a feeling of pity and secret shame, to make a complete break.

(*) Note that this is British punctuation. American punctuation would use double inverted commas, and would put the full stop after 'hurting me' inside the inverted commas, not outside. See https://www.thepunctuationguide.com/british-versus-american-style.html 

[1] She recovers later in the novel.
[2] It is not a very important point, but we normally would not translate as « Mrs de Fontanin ». « Mdame » is transparent to anglophone readers, and allows to maintain a French colour in the passage.
[3] Someone tried “to doze off », but that is to *begin* to sleep. « She was drowsing » is extremely rare, but apparently correct.
[4] If you’re not certain,this is a good time to revise the differences between the verbs to raise, to rise and to arise. Not to be confused with the differences between the nouns rise and raise.
[5] Or a questioning look.
[6] Better not to translate proper names of animate beings.
[7] Someone was tempted by « pains me », but, oddly, this (literary) expression is only used for emotional pain. E. g. « It pains me to see that you neglected to take my feelings into account ».
[8] A translation like “Stay calm” would be confused with an imperative. “had to” is possible, but, given the inner voice involved, “must” is better. One cannot translate with “To stay calm” etc.
[9] You must avoid all translations which would make the reader think there are telephones centrally involved here.
[10] « Corridor » is not so good, since it normally refers to a passageway in a larger building – a hospital corridor, a school corridor etc.
[11] Someone was tempted with « got hesitant ». There are two problems with this. Firstly, adjectives used after « to get » are a restricted list – you may not use the verb with any adjective. Secondly expressions with « get » will often not be sufficiently literary for passages like this one.
[12] As often, it is much better to add a verb here.
[14] Nothing can be done with the verb « to reminisce » here.
[15] Note: no capital letter.
[16] This is a more formal register than « earlier », thus is better here. « Before » is no doubt not formal enough in register. « Ago » is not possible because it would mean two years before today, not two years before the moment of the main narrative (deixis problem then).
[18] Note that she did not stand up.
[19] There are advantages to dividing the sentence when translating, not least that the procedure adds a verb.
[20] Words like « capsize » or « topple » are too spectacular, really.
[21] Not a « tissue » which is made ofpaper and is anachronistic here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facial_tissue
[22] Notice there are more verbs in a good English translation of this section than in the original French.
[23] Better than « sure » because more formal in register.
[24] A structure with “must have » is possible, but not with « might have ».
[25] “Callousness » is better than « cruelty » since it is less used to designate a permanent part of one’s personality, and more for a particular attitude or action.

L3 Popular culture - scheduling

Next Tuesday, 22nd October,  everything is back to normal for the first group (11-12.30).

For the second group (3.30pm -5pm) everything is not quite back to normal. Tuesday's class will last only one hour (because then I have to go do my seminar on Brexit). We will finish at 4.30pm then. After that, back to normal.  Remember both groups have a class on 17 December, at the normal time.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Brexit spoilers

If you are among those trying to understand what might happen next concerning the UK and Brexit, check out this handy chart.

Ecrits agrégation externe

Les écrits de l'agrégation externe ont lieu début mars.

Les cours d'agrégation externe (option) de cette semaine-là  seront déplacés. Pour ce qui est des cours d'agrégation interne, les enseignants décideront ce qu'il convient de faire (mais il n'est pas sûr qu'il y ait d'autres plages disponibles).

Brexit- Saison deux (attention - spoilers)

Si vous êtes disponibles ( et pas trop fatigués après une longue journée) venez à notre séminaire. L'enregistrement MP3 sera disponible sur ce blog par la suite.

M1 MEEF - the rest of October

I have put on the blog some elements to help you revise aspects of British history, and I will continue to do this.

There is no class on October 16.

On October 23, I will be going through some practice exam subjects. You will find these here. Have a look at them first and take notes on how you would deal with them in the CAPES. I will give you some suggested approaches in class.

You will find here (to give you some ideas on the method) the devoir maison I gave last year, along with my suggestions for approaches and also pitfalls to avoid. If I were you, I would read it all twice. this subject wa sbased on the theme of "mémoire,héritage, ruptures" which was on the curriculum last year, but we are really not very far from "le passé dans le présent".

keywords: capes anglais 2020, le passé dans le présent, exercices d'entraînement.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

M1 MEEF migration (or indeed anyone else)

Short news video: what's it like to be a muslim in Britain?


Understanding Brexit: "Disunited Kingdom" podcast

This set of podcasts from the BBC is probably generally pro-remain, but does give a taste of the complexity of the question, and is very well made.


Captain Cook classes in January

In the classes for the civilisation option on the agrégation, which start in January, I will not have the time to tell you the story of Captain Cook's life and voyages - I will be concentrating on the debates, interpretations, contexts etc. Although I know you are busy people, this means you have to have a fair knowledge of the events and the journal he wrote before the classes begin.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

L3 Popular Culture : photography

Martin Parr is one of the best known British photographers.
Here is a documentary about his work:


What are its links with high culture and with popular culture ? 

To hyphenate or not to hyphenate

Native speakers often make these mistakes. Breakup or break-up ?

This guide works 95% of the time:


Friday, October 11, 2019

Captain Cook agrégation anglais 2020 option civilisation post 26 : précision important

12/9/19 : Précision apportée par Christophe Gillissen, président du jury de l’agrégation, au texte de cadrage du sujet de civilisation à l’option (Les Voyages de Cook) :
Pour la question d’option au programme de civilisation de 2020 (« Les voyages du capitaine James Cook, 1768-1779 »), les candidats se verront proposer dans le cadre de l’épreuve du commentaire uniquement un extrait de l’édition de Philip Edwards, parue chez Penguin Classics, à l’exclusion de tout autre document textuel ou iconographique.
S’agissant de l’épreuve de la leçon, les citations et notions porteront sur la question dans son ensemble, telle qu’elle est définie dans le texte de cadrage. Les citations pourront provenir d’autres textes de la période étudiée (tel celui de John Hawkesworth, An Account of the Voyages Undertaken in the Southern Hemisphere, 1773) ainsi que de textes postérieurs (ouvrages d’historiens, etc.).

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Captain Cook agrégation anglais 2020 option civilisation Post 26: Hogarth

Eighteenth century England was a place full of movement emotion and injustice. This review of a Hogarth exhibition in London right now gives you some idea of what people were discussing and thinking at the time.


Translation je devais devenir le paria

I spoke briefly about the use of the structure "to be to". (The president is to visit London next May/ The war was to last for five long years).  Quite a few people seemed unsure. Have a look at these examples (click on the image).

Immigration, anti-racism and popular culture in Britain

Students preparing the CAPES (in connection with the subject of immigration) and L3 students following my class on popular culture may be interested in these two articles, both in French, by a distinguished scholar.

Chansons antiracistes au Royaume-Uni

Festivals de musique, à Notting Hill et ailleurs.

Thème M2/agrégation Suggested translation Fernandez

supposed to
(The passage is on this blog in the booklet linked to on September  4th. This suggested translation will only remain online for two weeks).

I used to[1] go out at night-time,[2] for,[3] rather than the colourful bustle[4] of daytime, I preferred[5] the sparse[6] spectacle of the long nocturnal[7] corridors, each looking like the last in a mysterious darkness.[8] Cats[9] lighter than shadows leapt[10] from one pillar to another[11] and disappeared[12] away under the vault; the moon slid off the rooftops; a lingering passer-by would turn up[13] his coat collar as he left the bar, the iron shutters[14] banging[15] down behind him. Everything went quiet once more; from one high-up window  hung[16] a bucket on a rope, in which the milk boy would put a bottle of fresh milk in the early hours of the morning.[17] I marvelled[18] at having been born[19] in a town where aloofness,[20] specific identity, individual happiness and[21] family selfishness seemed to be unknown concepts; where distrust of one’s neighbour, prying[22] into his[23] private life, the habit, which is elsewhere considered normal, of asking him[24] to explain himself, did not constitute the basis of social relations.  To me, who was to[25] become the “odd man out” par excellence, the black sheep, the outcast, this utopia of a society without dividing walls was fascinating. Could I already sense, back then,[26] that solitude, banishment and[27] persecution were to be my fate?[28] Was I looking[29] to use this myth of unlimited solidarity, to  steel myself for the time when I should be shunned,[30] when I should find none to come to my aid ?

Had I been[31] less confident or less impulsive, I should[32] not have been caught up[33] in the mirage of this prestigious architecture. I richly enjoyed  the feeling that we were all the same, we who lived in the arcades, not imagining[34] that the fear of my own future had left me hypnotized by a dream which was very far from reality. For what remained[35] in Bologna of the medieval spirit? One derisory leftover[36], one trivial reminder, only, in fact, a local dish.[37] Indeed the Cotoletta alla bolognese[38] has travelled the world, like a crumpled[39] banner of our splendour of old. It is made up of a slice of veal, covered with a thin strip[40] of ham and dipped in melted cheese. My fellow countrymen, through that collective virtue which placed nobles and Plebeians[41] together in the same galleries of old, continue[42] to eat together, even today, in one mouthful, that which elsewhere makes up three separate dishes: the ham eaten as a starter, the veal as a main course and the cheese as a dessert.[43]

Dans la main de l’Ange Dominique Fernandez[44]

The arcades of Bologna

[1] We are talking about habits, in a period which is finished.
[2] « At night-time » is slightly better than at night, because « I used to go out at night » might well be « je sortais chaque soir ». (tonight, for example, is generally « ce soir » rather than « cette nuit ».
[3] If you do not add a conjunction, you may not use just a comma – a colon or a full stop will  be required.
[4] « commotion » is good.
[5] Since « preferring » is not an action, it is far better not to put « would » or even « used to » before the verb here.
[6] « Deserted » or « empty » are possible. Not « desert » which would refer to a very large expanse of sand.
[7] « Nightly » is not possible, because it only means « every night ».
[8] As you know, one hardly ever uses contractions in written English. This is doubly important here where the style is literary. Do not be tempted.
[9] Best with no « article ». Non specific cats. If you write « some cats », it suggests « certains chats » in contrast to others who chose different activities.
[10] The whole series of verbs from now on is a description of typical events which happened when he was younger and lived in Bologna. They should not be translated with present tenses.
[11] You may not write « the other » since this would mean there were only two columns.
[12] Not « losing themselves » etc.
[13] I think this is the only translation possible here. « Lift » sounds strange. « Turn his collar up » is correct, but does not sound quite as good as « turn up his collar », I am not sure why.
[14] In English « iron curtain » has become restricted to the geopolitical sense : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Curtain
[15] Or « clattering ». Notice that it is best to integrate the « avec fracas » into the verb. Definitely a bonus point for doing this
[16] Not « was hanging » because the author is not underlining that this was temporary. Also « hang » is no doubt a stative verb, which tend no tto be used with BE +ING (see simplified explanation here https://www.perfect-english-grammar.com/stative-verbs.html ).
[17] « First thing in the morning » is possible but is perhaps a little informal. “At break of day” is far too poetic (https://poets.org/poem/lullaby-0 ).
[18] Someone found « I was filled with wonder », which is good.
[19] Notice the aspect : not just « at being born ».
[20] What he says is missing in this society is aloofness in general, family selfishness in general, etc., so you must not put an article before the noun. Beer is good for you.
[21] The « and » is obligatory before the last item in a list.
[22] A verb is better than a noun, as is often the case in English.
[23] « Their » is possible, but « one’s » is not, because here we have a specified antecedent (« neighbour ») .
[24] Or « them » if you have used « their » a few words ago.
[25] I think this is the only possible translation. Some were tempted with *“supposed to”, but this has a different meaning. “Supposed to” is generally counter-factual . “I am supposed to be at a meeting tonight” (But I am not or I will not be) “You’re supposed to be in charge” (But you are not acting like you are). See British national corpus. *“Had to” is also impossible (*“On m’obligeait à être la brebis galeuse”). “TO BE TO” speaks formally of what is planned to happen or what is destined to happen. It is very commonly used to speak of the “future in the past”. “La guerre éclate en 1870, elle durera cinq ans”. = “The war broke out in 1870; it was to last five years”.
[26] This is the best expression, though I did not find it on my first attempt

[27] You must put « and » (or in some cirumstances « or ») before the last element in a list.
[28] Someone found « my lot » which is excellent.
[29] Difficult to avoid  a BE + ING
[30] Or « when people would turn their back on me ».
[31] It is much better to start with a main verb, and not with a present participle. A structure without a verb is not good.
[32] In standard register, this would be « would », but « should » is an option for literary register.
[33] « Got trapped » is the right meaning, but too familiar in style. «I would not have been taken in » is very good.
[34] Be careful here : you cannot use a structure with « doubt ».
[35] Here you may  use a present tense.
[36] I liked « pathetic remnant ».
[37] The expression «  a cooked dish » does not really exist.
[39] Or « creased »

[40] A layer, if you wish.
[41] « Common people » is possible. Not « commoners », which simply refers to people who are not aristocrats, but might be  rich.
[42] You should not say « keep on » which tends to mean « continue in an insistent and annoying manner ».
[43] I noticed that people are not being careful enough about punctuation. At the exam, do a special read-through for correcting the punctuation (after a read-through for verbs and a read-through for modals !). This is mostly a matter of omitting commas, or using commas where a stronger pause is required.
[44] Dominique Fernandez, né le 25 août 1929 à Neuilly-sur-Seine, est un écrivain, essayiste et italianiste français, membre de l’Académie française.