Sunday, October 24, 2021

Les salles de la semaine à Rouen 26 - 28 octobre


L3 civi GB 10h30 A107

L3 civi GB 15h30 L101


Thème Agreg/M2 L102 10h30

Séminaire Master historiographie Première guerre A511 15h

jeudi MEEF M1 civi GB Amphi 2 9h30

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Everyday multiculturalism in Britain

 At the National gallery, they suggest a visit in connection with the hindu festival, Diwali.


Agrégation BBC - Rouen students

 In last week's class, which I could not come to because I was ill; I was intending to 1) finish the timeline  and 2) Talk about television theory . There will be videos doing each of these things over the next few weeks.

If you wish to practice your dissertation skill, you can write me a dissertation on "The BBC and Modernity" and I will comment on your work.

We have classes in early 2022 on dissertation (2 x 1 hour) and on commentary (3 x 2 hours).

If you have questions, send me an email. And don't forget to search this blog for "BBC" if you want more links to videos, articles etc.

Suggested translation Vasquez Thème agrégation

  Note that this translation will only remain on the blog for a couple of weeks.

If you are a visitor to this blog and you want to see the original passage we were translating from, you will find it here  http://www.jcmullen.fr/0921themebooklet.pdf 

        We went[1] back to the estate agent’s[2] to pick up the keys, then we drove[3] for a quarter of an hour away from the town centre and[4] through a small hamlet. A few minutes away from the village, in the middle of the surrounding countryside, we turned right into a cul-de-sac[5] before parking on the verge. Hardly had we[6] pulled up when I heard a car door slam and I saw the little girl rush out. I quickly got out[7] too and joined her.

        "Lizon, you must[8] be careful! There might be cars around. You must wait for me!"

        I immediately felt a little guilty because of the harsh tone I had just used, but the little girl did not seem to mind my scolding and stood still, staring at the house in front of her. Finally, she opened her mouth to utter her very first words of the afternoon.

        "I want this house!"

        Right on cue, Miss Duprat, who had followed us, spoke up and so[9] spared me the trouble of finding a quick response to these four most unexpected words.[10]

        "This is not the house which is to rent; it’s the one right next to it, which is completely identical[11], as you'll see[12]. In the sixties[13] they[14] had planned to build a housing estate,[15] but it didn't go according to plan[16] and only two houses were completed."

        The young woman walked toward the twin house to start the tour while I took[17] Lizon by the hand to force her to follow us. Since she was a well-brought up little girl with good manners, she fell into step behind me, but her eyes were still fixed on the neighbouring walls.

        After walking through a small garden that I hardly noticed, we went inside[18] and what I saw there was indeed nothing like the previous visit. The rooms looked tiny, with walls covered with an ancient floral wallpaper that must have been thirty years old at least, and uninspiring oak flooring. I felt as if I was walking into[19] my grandmother's house. I could almost see the old lady coming out of the back kitchen, with her impeccable hair set and her pinafore dress, to welcome me as she liked to[20] years ago.

        "Hello, my lovely![21] Quick[22], come and give your granny a kiss.[23]"




[1] I do not know how many marks you would lose for putting the whole passage in the present – the jury would discuss this – but I imagine it would be a large number. We have a series of actions which happen one after the other (we drove, then we arrived, then the lady showed us the house). These are not habitual actions, they happened once, and each one is finished. This is an extremely strong reason for using the preterite, since the simple present in English does not work like it does in French. This short book will help a lot. https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00732793/document

[2] Estate agency is possible, but not as good (and the form I chose allows you to show off your knowledge of the Saxon genitive. This is the use of the genitive for shops and services : I have to go to the solicitor’s/to the dry cleaner’s/ to the ironmonger’s/to  the doctor’s/to  the physiotherapist’s/to the greengrocer’s/ to the chemist’s/ to the jeweller’s/ to the newsagent’s)   In US English, they say « real estate agency »

[3] Not « rode », which is for bicycles, horses, motorbikes, carriages, one-horse open sleighs etc. song of the day : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CWJNqyub3o

[4] Although the French is « pour traverser », the meaning is not « afin de traverser » so an infinitive cannot be used in English.

[5] This is, bizarrely, a polite word in English. The other expression is « a dead end » , but would be a little too informal here.

[6] « Hardly » is one of those expressions which can take a subject-auxiliary inversion. This is an elegant structure, and it seems a pity not to show you know it, here.

[7] Not « got off » (which is for bicycles etc) « Alighted » is much too formal.

[8] I have chosen to use « must » twice. One might replace the second « must » with « have to », but, in this register, not the first.

[9] « Thus » is too formal.

[10] Note the word order.

[11] Not « *exactly similar » which is a contradiction in terms, since « similar » means « approximately the same ». « It is exactly the same » is correct. However, « *it is exactly the same one » is impossible, because that would mean there were not two houses.

[12] Remember that « *as you will see it » is a serious error.

[13] Does not take a capital letter.

[14] A passive construction is possible. A construction with « one » is not possible, because there were necessarily several people involved.

[15] Or « a housing estate was to be built here ».

[16] « The project aborted » is too technocratic in style.

[17] « Grabbed » is too energetic.

[18] « Enter » is possible but note that it is not followed by a preposition.

[19] « Entering » is too formal.

[20] A few students wrote « as she liked to do it ». This is a serious mistake.

[21] There are many informal possibilities : my love, flower, beautiful, etc.

[22] This is more informal than « quickly ».

[23] The expression we use with children  is « give X a kiss ». « Come and kiss granny » sounds strange.

Advanced translation . Thème agrégation: suggested translation Daenincks

 Note that this translation will only remain on the blog for a couple of weeks.

If you are a visitor to this blog and you want to see the original passage we were translating from, you will find it here  http://www.jcmullen.fr/0921themebooklet.pdf 

Passage from Les Figurants

The bedroom door[1] opened as he was  dipping[2] his buttered bread[3] in the lukewarm[4] coffee. Elvire stretched, which made[5] her pink nightgown gape[6] open; she made fists of her doll-like hands[7] and[8] grunted[9]  with pleasure before uttering the phrase that had inaugurated[10] each day of their life together for the past fifteen years.

“Oh, I did sleep well tonight. ”

Valère Notermans looked up[11] and foresaw[12] his wife’s every move.[13]  He often promised himself[14] that  he would change the position of some object or other to see whether it would disrupt[15] the smooth running of the ritual or whether she still had sufficient resources within her to be able to adapt to the unexpected… He made do with imagining different scenarios, all of which, without exception, ended in the utmost tragedy.  

His nights were filled with apocalyptic visions.

He would sometimes be looking[16]  at her in the half-light when an overwhelming emotion[17] would suddenly make him sit up in bed in order to calm the beating of his heart and to dispel his fear. The nightmares would dissipate like moorland mists[18] being touched by the sun. Elvire would  be lying there motionless, her eyes covered with a black baize  sleeping mask, and he would often lean over[19] her to catch the wisp of her breath, the quiver of her chest, believing her to be dead. Did she even[20] know that dreams existed? Perhaps she thought[21] they were just advertising breaks in the nothingness of her nights.

“Oh, I did sleep well tonight. ”

When they had first started living together,[22] he had been enchanted by the way she had of[23]  underlining  her every  action out loud. It seemed to Valère that by so doing she was focussing attention on events whose[24] importance was hidden by their mundane appearance.  Elvire drew his loving attention to her body, her ability to displace air,[25] to capture the sun’s rays. (…)

Little by little, he had grown weary of the spectacle and her trivial phrases had begun to resonate in his head. Before long, the phrases were all that was left, appearing at the bottom of the screen.

Their ordinary life was screened[26] in its entirety with subtitles!

Didier Daeninckx ; Les figurants (1995)


PS : song of the day special dedication to Elvire


[1] A couple of people were tempted by « *the bedroom’s door ». This is incorrect, and it is a good moment to review the very limited list of circumstances in which a « Saxon genitive » is used.

[2] « Dunking » is possible, but may be a little too informal.

[3] Dipping either buttered bread or toast in coffee is bizarre in Britain. Having said that, it does not seem to me an outrageous over-translation to say « toast ». Note, however, that in English the word is generally uncountable, so write « toast » not « *toasts ». « Toast » in its other meaning (public wishes declared as glasses are raised) is countable. « At the wedding reception, there were far too many toasts ».

[4]Tepid » is a little strange.

[5] Someone tried « thus opening up… » but the word « thus » belongs to too intellectual a register.

[6] Note that « gape » is an intransitive verb.

[7] Or “She clenched her doll-like fists”. Some students were tempted by “dolly fists”. This is not good, since the rule about compound nouns are stricter than that. Note I will say “my computer screen” but “the colour of my computer”.

[8] Notice that if you list three things she did, you must put an « and » before the last one.

[9] I thought « groaned », which is a longer sound, was a little too much.

[10] Pas de ING ici – nous ne nous intéressons pas à l’action au cours de son déroulement, mais au simple fait qu’elle a eu lieu .

[11] « Raised his eyes » is a little clumsy.

[12] « Anticipated » is fine, but a non latinate word is even better.

[13] Some students tried « the least of her gestures ». this structure is very restricted and is almost always « the least of his worries ».

[14] Be careful : as soon as you mention the person to whom the promise was made, you may no longer use an infinitive sructure.

[15] « Compromise » is too intellectual, I feel.

[16] Here we have an interrupted action, which is one of the strongest reasons for a past tense with BE +ING. (« I was walking along the road when I met Michael Jackon’s lawyer » - Yes, it is an example I have been using for some years).

[17] Or « an overly strong emotion », or even « too strong an emotion ». Note the word order here : *a too strong emotion is impossible.

[18] Note that « mist » is countable, but « fog » is uncountable. « Fog » is also no doubt too strong.

[19] Not « bent over ». To bend, for humans is generally from the waist (as when one picks up something from the ground while keeping one’s legs straight. « Lean » is more general.

[20] Not « only ».

[21] A modal structure is possible. « Maybe she thought » is very clumsy.

[22] Someone was tempted by « *their couple life », which is another example of overuse of compound nouns. Compound nouns can be invented, but there are very strict rules.

[23] Infinitive structure impossible here.

[24] If you were tempted by anything except «whose », revise urgently.

[25] In this case, the expression is literal – it is not an image to describe someone who talks too much (which would be less romantic !)

[26] Although it is not absolutely compulsory here, avoiding sentences which do not have verbs in English is always a good move.