December 31, 2012

Price drop on LetterMeister word puzzle game for iPhone

The LetterMeister multilingual word puzzle game for iPhone is available at a reduced price today and tomorrow. LetterMeister combines elements of Scrabble and other word/puzzle games with elements of MasterMind and general puzzle games. It is designed to be both a fun word puzzle for native speakers and also a vocabulary reinforcement game for foreign language learners, being available in English, French and Spanish with more languages such as German on the way in the next release. (As with other iPhone software, all future releases are free once you have purchased the game for the first time.)

If you are a fun of puzzle games or word games in general, don't miss out on this chance to get LetterMeister for less than half price!

Please note that French Vocab Games for iPhone will also be available at a reduced price for a limited period.

December 24, 2012

Minor improvements to dictionary entry layout

Some small changes and improvements have been made to the layout of entries in the French Dictionary. In particular, a change has been made to make verb conjugations appear further up the page in many entries, following feedback that verb conjugations were not as visible as before.

In general, every verb in the dictionary is accompanied by a mini verb table within the entry. A link also appear at the bottom of this "mini" conjugation listing if you wish to display the full conjugation of a given French verb.

Please note that in order to leave feedback on a given dictionary entry, you should now use the Comments section at the bottom of the dictionary entry page. The old "feedback" link has been removed from dictionary pages and will be gradually phased out across the site in favour of the new comments section.

December 20, 2012

New pronunciations added to French phrases section

The French phrases section of the web site has had a slight update with French pronunciations added to the following pages:

  • Getting around town in French: now includes pronunciations of basic building names in French, such as "cathedral", "museum", "bar" etc., as well as how to pronounce basic French phrases for getting round town such as those used when asking for directions.
  • Christmas in French now includes pronunciations so that you are correctly pronouncing your favourite French Christmas phrases.
  • Clothing terms in French also includes pronunciation.
If you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, then you may be interested to know that most of the above vocabulary features in the French Vocab Games and Utter French! apps available from the French Linguistics site. These apps feature studio recordings of a native French speaker pronouncing over 1,200 items of French vocabulary, thus giving you correct French pronunciation at your finger tips. For those really looking to perfect their French pronunciation, Utter French! offers detailed explanations of how to pronounce the French sounds making up each word, in addition to the native recordings.

December 12, 2012

Fused participles: "His doing..." vs "Him doing..."

339 people responded to the survey that was run on the French Linguistics site the other day regarding what has been dubbed the fused participle by grammarians such as Fowler.

Participants were asked to consider the following two sentences:

(a) "Him doing the washing up will be helpful"
(b) "His doing the washing up will be helpful"

and were asked to say which of the two forms they thought people "should" say, with a variety of reasons offered. Notice that this is a fairly boring, ordinary sentence. And notice that in the tradition of primary school teachers the world over, we deliberately didn't define what we actually meant by "should".

We'll be analysing the results in more detail in a future article. But to give a brief overview, of the 88.2% (299) of respondents who ticked one of the available "definite" responses rather than ticking "Some other answer", opinion was essentially split down the middle on whether people "should" say version (a) or version (b). Specifically, 44.8% of respondents with a definite opinion were of the opinion that people "should" say "Him doing..." for whatever reason, while 55.2% were of the opinion that people "should" say "His doing...".

Some noteworthy figures among the more detailed breakdown are that 23.1% (69/299) believed that people should say "Him doing..." because "it's the only one of the two that sounds right", while a roughly similar number (27.4%, 82/299) believed that people should say "His doing..." because "'doing' is a noun". We'll be looking at why the latter rationale is problematic in more detail in the full article. Of the 299 respondents with a definite opinion, 11.4% chose one or other answer because with the other option "the sentence is ambiguous". Unfortunately, the ambiguous version was perceived as being either "his" or "him" in roughly equal numbers (18 vs 16)!

A small handful of people also thought the answer had something to do with Latin. It appears that "that was the structure used in Latin" is still fair trade when you're in the business of making up spurious arguments about language. More to follow!

Christmas vocab in French

As you're waiting for your best turkey-eating suit to come back from the dry cleaner's, you may wish to take a moment to revise some of your Christmas French vocab. But perhaps you also have some suggestions for words and phrases to add to the list? If you have some Christmas vocab that you think should be added, then please feel free to leave comments and feedback on the page!

December 11, 2012

Half price on LetterMeister for iPhone

If you're looking for a fun way to reinforce your French, Spanish or English vocabulary recognition this Christmas, then take advantage to download LetterMeister word puzzle game for half price this week (or from your iPhone's App Store, search for "LetterMeister").

LetterMeister is a word puzzle game for iPhone that will appeal to those who enjoy word or puzzle games such as Mastermind, Scrabble or "spatial" puzzle games such as Tetris. It will also appeal to crossword enthusiasts although, despite its appearance, shouldn't necessarily be confused with an actual crossword game. In LetterMeister, you must use coloured clues to re-arrange a selection of words laid out in a manner similar to an interlocking crossword grid. But in LetterMeister, your "clues" come in the form of colours which indicate whether the letters are well placed or whether they should belong in another word/position.

The game currently consists of 50 levels which get progressively more difficult in terms of the number and length of words and the number of "special" actions that you must complete (e.g. getting the correct letter on bonus squares). However, within these criteria, each "board" is created at random, so that you can play a virtually infinite number of levels. The overall game can also be tailored to your desired pace and vocabulary level. This means that you can play a more "relaxing" or faster paced game. It also means that you don't need to be a vocabulary expert to play the game. But equally, as your vocabulary increases, you can up the level in order to keep on challenging yourself.

The game also links into the Game Center, offering you a number of challenges to complete, such as completing words of a certain length or containing certain letters. If you so wish, you can compare your score and progress with other players.

Download LetterMeister from the App Store directly on your device, or buy it from iTunes. LetterMeister is designed for iPhone but is compatible with the iPad (it is recommended that you play it in "2x" mode if playing on an iPad).

December 10, 2012

New comments sections on the French Linguistics site

In a number of places on the French Linguistics site, you can now add comments, questions and feedback directly to the page in question. The comments sections will be rolled out across the site over the next few weeks. At present, you may leave comments on:

December 8, 2012

Small update to French Word Searches for desktop

A small update has been released for the free French Word Searches application for desktop (Windows, Mac OS, Linux).

To install the update, simply replace the file FrenchWordSearches.jar with the new version.

Grammar quiz: "Him doing...?" or "His doing..."?

Out of the following sentences:

(a) "Him doing the washing up will help"
(b) "His doing the washing up will help"

which do you think people should say, and why?

December 6, 2012

French Word Searches

A simple French Word Searches application for desktop (Windows, Mac OS, Linux) is now available for download.

Please note that this is an initial beta release and frequent updates will be released. Please be sure to use the application's built in "Check for updates" function to regularly check for corrections and updates to the application!

The first updates to be released will bring the desktop application further in line with French Word Searches for iPad released a few weeks ago. The latter application currently includes a slightly enhanced user interface and additional options which will be added to the desktop version shortly.

Please note that in order to use French Word Searches for desktop, you will need to download Java if you do not already have it installed. Java is a free download. Please see the link above for details.

November 27, 2012

Short downtime to French Linguistics site this Sunday morning

The French Linguistics site will be unavailable for an approx 30 minute period this coming Sunday 2 December. The downtime is scheduled for around 2AM EST (GMT-5), 7AM UK time. For those not tucked up in bed at that time, I offer my sincerest contrafibularities; normal service will be resumed as quickly as possible.

November 20, 2012

LetterMeister for iPhone free today

The LetterMeister action word puzzle game, playable in French, Spanish and English and configurable to suit the player's vocabulary level and desired level of difficulty, is currently FREE to download from the App Store (regular price $1.99). If you haven't already, grab your copy now!

November 11, 2012

1,000 new French pronunciations added to dictionary

The French dictionary has been updated with 1,000 or so new pronunciations. The pronunciations should work on the majority of browsers (any browser with HTML5 support) but you may have problems with Internet Explorer due to its poor audio support. If you have trouble listening to the pronunciations with Internet Explorer, use another browser such as Google Chrome.

If you have feedback regarding the pronunciations, then please leave them in this French forum entry.

November 8, 2012

French Vocab Games: Price drop this week ($5.99 > $1.99)

iPhone-wielding Francophiles will be duly ecstatic at the news that French Vocab Games for iPhone has been reduced from its regular price of $5.99 to the most princely sum of $1.99. Like all good furniture sales, this offer not only must end soon, but really will end this coming Saturday. So do not delay in downloading your copy from the App Store now, thereby improving your French and kickstarting the flagging economy at one fell swoop!

November 1, 2012

French Word Searches for iPad

iPad owners: are you looking for a light activity to help your basic French vocab sink in? Check out this site's newly released French Word Searches for iPad, now available on the App Store!

The app allows you to play word searches using the same 1,200 carefully chosen items of core French vocabulary from its sister French Vocab Games app for iPhone. However, for those specifically interested in the word search activity, this new app now allows you to take full advantage of the iPad's larger screen.

To get French Word Searches on your iPad:

For teachers and schools: please note that a bulk purchase discount is available for educational establishments under Apple's volume purchase scheme.

Click here for more information on volume purchases of French Word Searches.

October 23, 2012

French Vocab Games LITE now includes pronuncation

The free French Vocab Game LITE app for iPhone now includes sample pronuncation.

The app is intended to be a demonstration version of the full French vocab games app, featuring 1,200 items of French vocabulary along with studio recordings of the pronunciation of each item. This update to the lite version allows you to try out the pronunciation facility before committing to the full app.

October 11, 2012

Utter French! pronunciation app now with phonetic descriptions

An update has been released to the Utter French! pronunciation app for iPhone and iPad.

An addition to studio recordings of a native speaker pronouncing over 1,200 items of French vocabulary, the app now features a phonetic transcription and description feature. For each item of vocabulary, the app will display the IPA phonetic transcription (as found in many dictionaries) and clicking on one of the symbols will present you with a detailed description of how to pronounce the sound in question.

October 9, 2012

French iPhone/iPad app discounts for educational establishments

Volume discounts are now available on French Vocab Games and Utter French! (compatible with iPhone and iPad) for educational institutions in 9 countries. Click here for more information on educational discounts on these French iPhone apps.

The discounts are currently available to educational institutions in:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Spain
  • United Kingdom
  • US

October 7, 2012

French dictionary: fix for looking up feminine/plurals

A small fix has been applied to the site's French dictionary to fix a bug when looking up French feminine and plural forms.

Occasionally, when looking up a word ending in -e or -s, this word would mistakenly be assumed to be the feminine or plural of another word. For example, baie was taken to be the feminine of bai, when in reality it is much more likely that the user was looking up the word baie ("bay", "berry").

Utter French! app update currently awaiting App Store review

An update to the Utter French! pronunciation app for iPhone is currently awaiting review and is due to be released to the App Store shortly. Further details will follow in the next few days.

August 23, 2012

Looking for your input: what French phrases would you like to see included in the Utter French! app?

You may be familiar with the Utter French! app for iPhone, which offers studio recordings of a native speaker pronouncing 1,200 basic French words to ensure you that you are learning the correct pronunciations.

Well, now I'm appealing for your help! For the next version of the app, I want to include recordings of a variety of French phrases. What phrases would you like to see (or hear!) included? They can be from the existing 20 topics or from the French phrases section of the web site. Or maybe there's a whole new topic you'd like to suggest?

Please suggest your phrases here. Thank you in advance for your suggestions!


August 22, 2012

Press release for French Vocab Games version 2

A press release for French Vocab Games has been published here.

Free LetterMeister word puzzle game now released with German option

An update to the free LetterMeister word puzzle game was released today. The update now adds German to the list of available languages (which also includes Spanish, French and English).

LetterMeister is a casual word puzzle game originally released for iPhone and now available as a free download for Windows, Linux and Mac OS. It will appeal to those who like puzzle games or word games (including games such as Scrabble, Tiny Words, Upwords, Mastermind or crossword-type games). Additionally, the game is designed to serve as a fun means of vocabulary reinforcement for language learners, given its multilingual play option (current language list: Spanish, French and English in the iPhone; German in addition to these four in the desktop version).

More languages are due to be added to future releases. If you play LetterMeister in one of the various non-English languages (either as a language learner or as a native speaker), then you are invited to leave any comments on the LetterMeister Facebook page below, or to this blog post.

Note about the current version of German vocabulary: The current version includes approx 8,000 German words. This vocabulary is likely to be increased in future versions. When playing in German, bear in mind that the German "double s" is always spelled "SS", e.g. "STRASSE". Umlauted letters are distinguished from non-umlauted letters.

If you are a teacher using LetterMeister as a French, Spanish or German teaching resource, we would also be interested to hear from you.

LetterMeister Facebook page
LetterMeister for iPhone
LetterMeister on YouTube

August 19, 2012

Free copies of LetterMeister (now playable in French)

French learners may be interested to know that a few free copies of LetterMeister are being given away.

If you're not familiar with it yet, LetterMeister is a word puzzle app in which you must swap pairs of letters to reconstruct a "crossword" of intersecting words. The game was originally released in English only but is now playable in French and Spanish, so is ideal for those wanting to reinforce their French or Spanish vocabulary learning in a more fun way.

To get your free copy, go to iTunes (on your iPhone or iPad), scroll down to the bottom of the "Featured" pane and select "Redeem". Then, enter one of the codes (find one that hasn't been redeemed yet-- they're on a first-come-first-served basis).

If all the free copies for iPhone have gone and you're not sure whether you want to spend one of your hard-earned dollars on the app, then why not check out the free desktop version of the word game which is also available here. If you enjoy the desktop version, you'll certainly enjoy it on iPhone/iPad as the game is all the more playable on these devices' touch screen.

August 18, 2012

Video of French Vocab Games

You may be interested in checking out this video of French Vocab Games for iPhone which shows some of the different games and features available, including a demonstration of the French pronunciation option.

New codes posted for LetterMeister

Some new promo codes have been posted allowing you to download a free copy of the LetterMeister word game for iPhone. The latest version of LetterMeister now allows you to play in French and Spanish as well as English.

To redeem your free copy, head over to and use the "Redeem" option in iTunes to redeem one of the codes (first come, first served). Codes for this and other iPhone applications are posted from time to time on this site and by @BitterCoffey on Twitter.

August 13, 2012

Price cuts for French language apps

Today and for the next couple of days, take advantage of price cuts to the French language apps offered from the French Linguistics web site. Specifically, the following apps currently have price cuts:

  • French Vocab Games, the suite of vocabulary learning games for iPhone. The app now offers an additional French pronunciation feature.
  • Utter French!, the app specifically aimed at helping with French pronunciation. The app can also be used as a "mini-dictionary" for looking up common vocabulary.
  • LetterMeister, the word puzzle game, which can now be played in French (as well as English and Spanish).

August 4, 2012

Update to LetterMeister word game now allows you to play in French (and Spanish)

Version 2.0 of LetterMeister has now been released for iPhone/iPad. This new version contains a couple of significant new features.

Firstly, perhaps the most significant feature for French Linguistics readers is that you can now play the game in French. So whether you're a French learner or a French native speaker, if you're looking for a word puzzle game to keep you occupied during those long summer hours of sunbathing and repeats of vintage comedy, look no further :)

In addition to French, the game also contains a Spanish option. So if you're a Spanish learner or Spanish native speaker looking for a word puzzle game... well, you get the idea.

The other major feature is that the game now integrates with the iOS Game Center. This means that you can now monitor your progress towards various goals in the game. If you so wish, you can also compare your scores with other fellow players.

Download the LetterMeister word game for iPhone/iPad.
See a video of LetterMeister.

July 31, 2012

Promo codes for free copy of LetterMeister for iPhone/iPad

If you don't already have the LetterMeister puzzle game for your iPhone/iPad, then now's your chance to grab a free copy. Redeem one of the following codes in iTunes:


An update to the iOS version is about to be released that will add French and Spanish options. So make sure you redeem one of the above codes now so that you get a free update when these options are released in a couple of days' time.

(Code T&C

July 29, 2012

22K high score on French Vocab Games after less than one week

After less than a week since the new version of French Vocab Games was released for iPhone, I'd just like to congratulate everybody for some terrific scores at this early stage.

As you may be aware if you read the previous announcements, a key feature of the new version-- in addition to the new animated pronunciation feature-- is the app's integration with the Game Center.

From the app's front screen, you can access a list of personal achievements within the app. For those students who tend to learn better when learning is "incentivised", then this will be a key learning feature, allowing learning goals to be set. However, the app's Game Center integration also includes a score leaderboard. A player's score on this leaderboard is a combination of their vocab coverage plus their combined score on the various topics they have played.

It is a pleasure to see various high scores just a few days after the new version of the French Vocab Games app was released to the App Store and especially at a time when many are surely still focused on their vacation rather than revising their French. So... keep those high scores coming!

July 28, 2012

Update to French Vocab Games for iPhone

An update to French Vocab Games for iPhone was released to the App Store yesterday. The update fixes a minor display bug with the French wordsearch game, whereby balloons around the words found would appear on top of the popup dialog revealing the English translations of the French word when tapped.

(The glitch happened due to the program being inadvertently compiled against the wrong version of a library. The actual app itself has of course been thoroughly tested prior to release.)

July 24, 2012

LetterMeister word game now in French!

The latest release of the free LetterMeister word game now allows you to play the game in French (as well as Spanish and English).

Go to the LetterMeister home page (see the link above) to download version 0.6b of the game. To select French as the language, go to the Startup Options dialog from the File menu. You will need to restart the game for the language change to take effect.

An update to the LetterMeister word game for iPhone is due to be released during early August that will also feature Spanish and French.

July 23, 2012

French Vocab Games: Benefit and feature comparison

The French Vocab Games support page now includes a table comparing the benefits of the three pieces of French software offered on the French Linguistics site: French Vocab Games, French Vocab Games LITE and Utter French!

French Vocab Games 2.0 now includes pronunciation option

Version 2.0 of French Vocab Games for iPhone was released today. If you are not familiar with it, the app is a suite of various different game and activities to assist French learners in coming to grips with their French vocabulary in a less painless way than with traditional vocab books and other less interactive learning methods.

A major feature of the new release is that it incorporates a pronunciation option. Studio recordings of a native French speaker pronouncing all 1,200+ items of vocabulary featured in the games have been added to the new version of the app.

Another major feature new to the app is Game Center integration: you can now monitor your progress and-- if you so desire-- compare your progress with that of your friends via the Game Center Achievements page.

As a special offer to celebrate the new release, French Vocab Games is free to download today! So, what are you waiting for? Download French Vocab Games now!

July 16, 2012

Version 0.4b of LetterMeister released

Version 0.4b of LetterMeister has just been announced in FreeCode. As described in the LetterMeister project's FreeCode page, the update now includes music in the desktop version. Some improvements have also been made to the quality of scaled graphics as they appear in the game.

It is possible that the graphics improvements may have a small performance impact depending on your graphics card. If you do experience a problem, you are invited to report the problem either on the LetterMeister Facebook page or by e-mailing the author directly.

Download LetterMeister for free here:

July 12, 2012

New Article: contracting a translation agency vs an individual translator

I invite you to read my article published today on the relative merits of contracting a translation agency vs an individual translator. Like many businesses, you have perhaps always assumed that a translation agency was the best option. And as I discuss in the article, an agency can bring you certain advantages.

But, as I also discuss, you should verify whether you are actually getting the added value that you believe the agency to be offering. For the reasons I examine, the option of contracting a translator directly may actually turn out to be a very viable, beneficial option for your business needs.

Results of survey on mobile apps for language learning

A few weeks ago I invited readers to respond to a short survey on how effective and advantageous (or otherwise) they think mobile apps are for language learning.

The initial results of the survey on mobile apps for language learning have now been published.

July 3, 2012

New "Utter French!" app released

I'm pleased to announce the launch of a new app to accompany the French Linguistics site. Utter French! is a new iPhone app to help with French pronunciation.

A common request among French learners has been for help with pronunciation. Uttter French! is a designed to address this need and specifically targets French learners up to around GCSE level or equivalent.

The app equips your iPhone with 1,200 studio recordings of a native French speaker pronouncing a range of basic French vocabulary. You can search for items of vocabulary by French or English word and filter by any of the 20+ vocab topics included.

The app is designed to be a complement to the previously released French Vocab Games for iPhone and features a similar range of vocabulary. However, Utter French! focusses on vocabulary lookup and pronunciation, whereas French Vocab Games focusses on vocab testing and practice.

June 28, 2012

Learning French (and other languages) on your mobile phone or device

I'm interested in finding out what people think are the advantages of learning French and other languages on a mobile phone or device as opposed to a regular desktop software or indeed other more traditional learning methods.

So, if you have a quick second, please participate!

400 responses so far to the first French Quiz question!

Many thanks for all your responses to the first French Quiz question! In fact, nearly 400 people have responded so far and the number is growing!

However, for an interesting comparison of people's responses, we also still need some more native French speakers to respond! So, do you have a French friend? Or maybe a French native from another country such as Canada or Belgium?

Why not get them to give their answer to the French Quiz question! You can find the question here:

Let's see how many people we can get!

June 26, 2012

How often do people use machine translation?

Some preliminary results of the recent survey on use of machine translation have just been published on translation service home page of the French Linguistics site.

As you will see, there is actually quite an even split among the different reported frequencies, with around the same percentage of users reporting that they use machine translation at least weekly (21%) as those reporting that they never use it (26%).

Note that the category "Once or twice" (18%) refers to those users who in the survey reported that they had previously used machine translation "once or twice" but did not report to be regular users. The category of "now and again" (18%) refers to those users that report regularly using machine translation every now and again.

Given its ubiquity on the web, it is interesting to see that almost a quarter of users report never having used such a service.

French Quiz Questions

Well, it's just about summer again: that time of year when everybody starts thinking about their holiday in Corfu rather than their poor French grammar and vocab, which get relegated to the back of the sock drawer for the next couple of months.

Well, just so that you don't switch off all of your brain this summer and forget about French altogether, I'll be running a series of French Quiz questions on the French dictionary home page over the next few weeks.

French Quiz question number 1 is for slightly more advanced students and concerns the use of so-called "preceding object pronouns" (technically termed "clitics") in French.

If you are a native French speaker, then it is also not "cheating" to have a go at the quiz questions. Indeed, I shall be interested to see what responses we get from native French speakers and how they commpare to those of our non-native students.

June 22, 2012

This week on the French Language forum

This week has seen various interesting questions about French grammar and vocabulary at a number of different levels on the French Language forum:

A notable discussion for more advanced users concerns the use of inversion in French. This the structure found essentially in formal French where the order of the subject and verb is reversed. In French, it is usually used to form a question. The discussion centers around the fact that there are actually two different forms of inversion used in French: "simple" and "complex". In addition, the "simple" form of inversion can be used for what is called "stylistic" inversion: an optional case of inversion which serves no function as such, but is felt by the author in question to by more stylistically pleasing.

So-called modal verbs can frequently be an issue for learners because of the subtlety they can entail. See this question on the use of devrait-il.

An ongoing discussion concerns various tips and suggestions for learning French vocabulary more quickly. What is coming out of the discussion is that there is no single magic bullet but rather a combination of strategies is required. Some specific suggestions of techniques/web sites is proposed in the discussion.

Remember that anybody can join in the discussions on the French Language Forum. Regular highlights and updates are also posted on the French Language Forum's Facebook page, which you are encouraged to join.

June 15, 2012

Update to French Vocab Games iPhone app to feature pronunciation

Look out over the next few days for a pending update to this site's French Vocab Games app for iPhone. Among other things, the new version will feature two notable additions:
  • an optional extension provides audio pronunciation of all items of vocabulary in the game;
  • the app is now integrated with the iOS Game Center, allowing you to compare you progress with friends and classmates, or simply keep track of your own achievements.
A common issue among learners is of course knowing how to pronounce French words, especially how to pronounce the most basic words of French while you are still starting out with the language and getting to know what letters generally correspond with what sounds. And so not surprisingly, having pronunciation in the app has been among the most common requests. In the upcoming Version 2.0 of French Vocab Games, the pronunciation option gives you access to studio recordings of a native French speaker pronouncing all 1,200+ items of vocabulary included in the games. Simply tap the 'pronounce' icon any time you see it (e.g. on flash cards, on completed crossword/wordsearch clues, next to any word gloss as it pops up...) to hear an authentic pronunciation of the French word or phrase in question!

June 8, 2012

Update to the French Dictionary includes updates to verb tables

The site's French Dictionary has been updated today. The update includes new items of vocabulary along with some small corrections to the dictionary's verb tables. The correction concerns some rarer subjunctive forms which were not displaying correctly in the previous version.

As you may be aware, you can display the conjugation of French verbs in the dictionary by searching first for the infinitive of that verb. A summarised verb table is then displayed within the dictionary entry for the verb, showing the forms of certain frequently used tenses (present, imperfect, future, perfect, present subjunctive). More advanced users will in fact be able to determine the forms of most other tenses from these since, for example, the French conditional and future tense forms share a common root, and other compound tenses (pluperfect etc) are formed in a similar manner to the perfect, with only the past participle and choice of avoir/être varying from verb to verb.

However, if you require full conjugation tables of any French verb, then you can click on the link to "see the full conjugation" that appears beneath the summarised verb table in the dictionary entry. The French grammar section of the site also includes links to full conjugations of common French irregular verbs, plus the a "French verb conjugator" tool allows you to display the verb table for any given verb.

If you have any further questions about French verbs, then you may ask your question on the French forum.

June 4, 2012

How long does it take to translate a novel? The case of translating J K Rowling's latest novel into Finnish

It is being reported that the translator of J K Rowling's new novel will have three weeks to translate 480 pages. If the reports are true, this is in part due to the publisher's artificial restriction of not allowing the translator to see the text prior to its publication date.

Although this is obviously a high profile novel, I wonder why the real need to introduce this spurious obstacle. Translators are quite used to signing Non-Disclosure Agreements. And given the volume and timescale involved, even if the translator were to be allowed double the time, it still sounds like they'd be left with no time to sleep let alone go around organising illegitimate disclosure of the Secret Book.

In any case I'm wondering if there could be something we're missing here. At, say, around 200 words per page, this would equate to translating just under 4,500 words per day continuously for 7 days. To put this into perspective, non-literary translators generally translate in the order of 2,000 words per day. Sure, there are always projects where it is possible to "burst" at as high as 4,500 words per day. Indeed, I've experienced this myself with the translation of certain very formulaic material or, say, the translation of transcripts of business meetings containing only a few passages of content-rich text interspersed with many passages of more mundane banter. And I've seen other colleagues report a similar experience.

But the idea of sustaining 4,500+ words per day for several weeks on literary, content-rich text and at the end of it producing high quality, publishable material sounds absurd. So as I say, I wonder if we're missing something. If you know any more about this story or have any thoughts, I'd be interested to here your opinions.

Survey: How long does it take to translate a novel?

June 2, 2012

What language learning app would you recommend?

You may have seen the French Vocab Games app for iPhone/iPad that accompanies the French Linguistics web site.

But perhaps you use another app that you would recommend? If so, let us know what language learning app you would recommend! We'll include apps for iPhone/iPad and also Android phones and tablets.

LetterMeister update

A small update to LetterMeister for Windows/Linux/Mac OS has been released. The update improves the resolution of the in-game graphics.

If you haven't already downloaded it, why not give this addictive word puzzle game a try: it's free to download for desktop machines and only $0.99 for iPhone and iPad.

If you do download the game, don't forget to Like LetterMeister on Facebook to keep up to date with updates and gameplay tips.

June 1, 2012

Translation offers mailing list re-instated

Signups for the Translation Mailing List have been re-instated. You can now sign up here for information on reduced price translation offers as and when they come up. Please note that this translation service is designed primarily for business clients and institutions requiring translation of documents of at least 2,000 words.

May 29, 2012

Free beta version of LetterMeister word puzzle game now available for Windows, Linux and MacOS

You may have noticed the LetterMeister word puzzle game for iPhone mentioned on the French Linguistics site. Whether or not you've tried the iPhone version yet, you may be interested to know that an initial version of the game is now available free of charge for Windows, Linux and Mac OS.

This desktop version basically behaves similarly to the iPhone version of the game, but with a few minor differences in this initial version.

The on-screen help in the iOS version is replaced with a link to the LetterMeister help page in the desktop version. At present, the desktop version does not include music (though it does include sound effects).

If you do download the game, then you are advised to keep up to date with the regular updates that are planned to the game in one of the following ways:

  • by liking the LetterMeister Facebook page
  • by subscribing to LetterMeister on Freecode
  • by following @BitterCoffey on Twitter, where announcements about LetterMeister, the French Linguistics site and other computing/language related news -- along with the occasional well motivated rant or too from the author :) -- are regularly posted.

Happy meistering!

May 15, 2012

This week on the French Language forum

Various interesting questions this week-- thanks to all who have contributed!

For more advanced learners, this question about the conditional perfect combines a number of subtle grammar points that come together in certain instances of reported speech.

Then, I thought this question about the use of il y a was important in highlighting that when teaching about a particular phrase, we should be careful to explain the range of uses that that phrase may have: it's easy to get sidetracked into focussing on a single usage.

I see that the original post-- now from nearly a year ago-- on French faux amis now has 70 responses. Let the fun continue :)

It's also nice to see questions being explored in depth with various contributors, such as is the case with this queston on "voudrais" vs "vouloir".

And finally, a question on saying "in this book" in French. Remember, no question is too trivial or too complex for the French Language forum :)

French Vocab Games offer: all codes now allocated!

I had a slight complaint the other day about the previous free offer of French Vocab Games in return for a LetterMeister review, as the LetterMeister game has now reverted from its free status to being a paid app (though it is still yours for not-too-princely sum of $0.99 -- still a bargain :)

This is because the offer is unfortunately now over-- I regret that I have now allocated all the available free promo codes for French Vocab Games!

May 10, 2012

LetterMeister game free today

For owners of iPhone/iPad and iPod Touch who are into word games: make sure you download the LetterMeister word puzzle game which is free today.

To keep up to date with news about the game, make sure you "like" the LetterMeister Facebook page.

May 7, 2012

Note on claiming App Store codes for "French Vocab Games"

I just wanted to add a quick clarification here in response to a forum post yesterday re the offer of an App Store code to download French Vocab Games in exchange for a review of my recently released iPhone word game LetterMeister.

Various codes have already been sent to people who have left reviews of LetterMeister and a few codes are still left and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. So if you still want to apply for a free copy of the French Vocab Games app (currently iPhone/iPad only!), you still have chance.

To clarify the situation:
  • I have a few free codes left, which will be given out on a first-come first-served basis
  • To claim a code for French Vocab Games, you need to download and leave an honest review of LetterMeister in the App Store
  • Reviews which are obviously spam will not qualify
  • Once you have left your review, you need to fill out the form to claim your download code for French Vocab Games (see the forum post mentioned above)
  • Please make sure that the e-mail address that you leave in the claim form is the same as the iTunes ID that you used to leave your review. If not, I won't be able to match up your review with your claim for a free code and so won't be able to issue the code.
  • Please make sure that you enter the correct country (the country in whose App Store you left your review) when claiming your code. Again, if you enter the wrong country, then may not be able to match up your review with your claim.
  • The review actually needs to be visible on the App Store before the code will be issued. Make sure that at least you can see your review before claiming your code. If you can't see your review, neither can I!
  • Codes will be sent out via e-mail. Please make sure that you are able to receive e-mails at the address you entered (i.e. at your iTunes ID e-mail).

Thank you for your patience! Let me assure readers that this is a genuine offer of a free download of the full version of French Vocab Games. However, I have unfortunately received some 'spam' claims (people filling in the form without actually leaving a review) and so am having to apply these slightly strict criteria. If you believe that you have left a genuine review and genuinely filled in the form correctly but not heard anything, or if you have any queries about this process, then please send me a Private Message via the French Language forum (you can do so via the forum post linked to above).

Happy playing!

May 6, 2012

François Hollande wins French elections

Links to a few French articles about François Hollande's recent victory in the French presidential elections have been posted on the French Linguistics site.

Perhaps you have other recommended articles?

If you have trouble understanding any newspaper articles about the French elections or other topics, remember that questions are always welcome on the French language forum.

May 3, 2012

French accented domain names on sale from today

As of today, registrars are now offering .fr domains with accents. In the initial phase, domain owners will have first refusal until July on accented versions of their existing domains. Then, .fr domains with accents will be available more generally.

I'm in two minds about this.

From a political, patriotistical point of view, being able to put accents on domain names will make French speakers feel less like the language is being contorted by archaic computing system limitations, as was once the case, for example, in the heady days of 8-bit computing when getting accents on letters was something of a rare luxury.

For some users, having the accents present as in normal prose, will also simply "look more natural and readable".

On the other hand:

  • in French, there are very few cases when accents really serve to disambiguate or where it is impossible to come up with an alternative version that does not require accents
  • there is already a well-established use case where accents are completely optional, namely when using all capital letters; does it really matter to have an additional use case, namely in domain names, when this is also the convention?
  • the Académie's spelling reform, proposed in 1990 and recently given fresh impetus, actually proposes doing away with certain accents (spurious circumflexes)
  • the system will lead to a 'doubling up' of domain names; we already have enough spurious domain name duplicates, e.g. "" and "" and "" without adding an additional recipe for duplicates

As with the recent introduction of additional top level domains like .info and .tv, I think that overall, the system will create extra complexity in return for little benefit.

But perhaps others think differently?

April 20, 2012

Information updated on translating/understanding French contracts

The French Linguistics site's page on translating French contracts has been updated. The page gives an overview of some of the main issues involved in understanding a French contract such as the compromis de vente signed in the initial stages of buying a French property, as well as other commercial contracts etc.

As in English, key issues with the translation of French contracts revolve around:

  • differences in Anglosaxon vs Frencophone legal systems;
  • the use of what are now archaic words and phrases in legal parlance: the translation of these may be particularly troublesome because a mainstream dictionary may in effect give you what is the wrong (=modern) interpretation for the purposes of a legal translation;
  • the use of technical/otherwise unusual words: these may technical legal or financial jargon whose interpretation is not readily listen in mainstream dictionaries.

The article deals with a few examples of such words and phrases to highlight some of the difficulties involved in producing a good, accurate translation of a French contract or other legal material.

Suggestions for additions to the article, as well as any material appearing on the French Linguistics site, are always welcome.

Problem with French audio pronunciation fixed

Users may have had trouble listening to the audio pronunciation on the French phrases (also referred to as the "basic French vocab" section) as well as in French verb pronunciations in the dictionary.

This issue has now been resolved. All pronunciation features on the French Linguistics site should now be operating normally.

April 18, 2012

Clarifications added re French Linguistics translation service

Information regarding the site's professional French translation service have been updated. The new information includes clarifications about proofreading and consultation with practitioners. However, if you require any specific clarification, you are still advised to request this at the time of requesting a translation quote.

March 21, 2012

LetterMeister given average 4.5 star rating in App Store

I'm pleased to note that my recent release LetterMeister for iPhone now has an average user rating of 4.5 stars. Many thanks for your support!

March 18, 2012

French Linguistics web site maintenance this weekend

Apologies for one or two brief interruptions to the French Linguistics web site this weekend. These interruptions were to install some changes that will mean future updates require fewer interruptions, if that makes any sense...

March 5, 2012

French Vocab Games

"French Vocab Games", the site's suite of French learning games for iPhone/iPad, is currently on offer. Download it today to take advantage of the promotional price! The app offers immense value, as for a single purchase it offers multiple French vocab learning activities.

If you are into word puzzle games more generally, then you may also like to check out the recently released LetterMeister.

Free promo codes for both of these apps are regular announced by @BitterCoffey on Twitter.

February 23, 2012

Update to French Vocab Games LITE

An update to the free French Vocab Games "Lite" app was released earlier this week. The app now features 3 of the 9 activities from the full version and 5 of the 20 vocab topics. The Lite version is available free of charge, allowing you to evaluate the app before deciding whether to download the full version.

To keep updated with news and a chance to get a promo code to download the app for free, you may also like to subscribe to the French Vocab Games Facebook page.

An update to the full version of the app is planned shortly and will include further activities.

February 15, 2012

LetterMeister word game now available

The first version of the new LetterMeister word game is now available for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The game will suit those who enjoy word strategy games. You are invited to see the game's App Store description for more details and screenshots!

February 2, 2012

French Vocab Games LITE version now available

Firstly, thank you to the several hundred people who have already downloaded the French Vocab Games app for iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch.

If you are interested in the app but haven't yet taken the plunge, you may be interested in the French Vocab Games LITE version now in the App Store. This free cut-down version offers two activities and 3 of the 20 topics available in the full version.

January 9, 2012

350 wordsearches now downloadable for free

The 350 French wordsearches may now be downloaded for free, in exchange for a Twitter/Facebook mention.