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.