Listen to CBC’s All in a Weekend radio show from May 11, 2013 where host Sonali Karnick talks with Nadeau & Barlow about The Story of Spanish, their next book on Arabic and their upcoming trip to France. Listen »
Booklist’s starred review of The Story of Spanish: “Nadeau and Barlow once again present a thoroughly researched linguistic history. Part anthropological study, part travelogue, this volume is an entirely compelling compendium.” Read more »
New York, May 21, 2013: Cervantes Institute Washington, May 22, 2013: Embassy of Spain in Washington San Antonio, July 8, 2013: The American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese 95th Annual Conference For more Nadeau & Barlow upcoming events »
Julie Barlow and Jean-Benoît Nadeau are bestselling authors of books on language and culture. Partners in life and writing, the couple lives in Montreal, Canada with their twin daughters.
Como escritores trilingües, Jean-Benoît Nadeau y Julie Barlow han dedicado sus carreras a cerrar brechas culturales, primero como periodistas, y ahora como autores.
Julie visited Occupy Wall Street when she was in New York last week. Anyone can walk in and tour the site. It was like an open air market — not exactly neat, but definitely organized — where one can mingle with the protesters, journalists, tourists, police officers and various volunteers. She passed by the food tent, the first-aid tent and then she found herself in front of the blue “France” tent. It was one of the largest tents on the site. Truth be told, she was a bit confused (perhaps the smell of the incense had gotten to her head), so she asked the “France” spokesman sitting outside the tent exactly why he had decided to set-up “France” in Occupy Wall Street.
He replied, “Free medical insurance, free university tuition, a social safety net…” and on he went.
The Story of French (St. Martin’s Press, recently released in France as Le Français, quelle histoire!) is a sweeping history of the French language as it’s spoken across the planet. The award-winning work concludes on a positive note: Contrary to popular opinion, the number of French speakers in the world is increasing. Read more »
Vandalisme (vandalism), anarchisme (anarchism) and terrorisme (terrorism) all took their present meaning in English from French terms coined during the Revolution. Some terms disappeared, at least temporarily. Parlement (parliament) was abolished as a royalist institution in 1790 (it referred to the high tribunal in the ancien regime); after several generations it reappeared in France with the English meaning of the term.
Commoners also influenced the language. In the early days of the Revolution, Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, Louis XVI’s doctor, actively promoted reform of capital punishment. Read more »
On October 19th, Jean-Benoît Nadeau participated in a debate with the Time’s former European bureau chief Donald Morrison, organized by France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Estates-General on the promotion of French abroad summit). Watch 1st part of debate »
On Saturday, October 1st, 2011, in association with les Journées de la Culture / Culture Days, PWAC Quebec (Professional Writers Association of Canada) held a book reading at Paragraphe bookstore in downtown Montreal.
Author Julie Barlow read a passage from The Story of French describing a Senegalese park guide’s determination to master the French language.
Like the issue of the Belgian accent, that of the Suisse accent is complicated. Many French people swear that there is a typical Swiss accent. In fact, what is assumed to be a typical Swiss accent is actually the accent of a German Swiss speaking French as a second language. As far as the Suisses Romands, they have roughly the same accent that one would hear in France near the Swiss border. They have a reputation for speaking slowly, but the real difference is where they put the emphasis in their words and sentences. Whereas standard French stresses the last syllable of words and sentences, Swiss French stresses the penultimate (second-last) syllable. This produces a musicality that is instantly recognizable, though it is more typically Franco-Provençal than Swiss per se. Like Belgians and Quebeckers, Swiss francophones also pronounce vowels in a way that distinguishes homonyms (Belgians and Quebeckers distinguish vowels sounds too, but different vowels). Words like peau (skin) and pot (pot) sound the same in Paris, but in Switzerland they are differentiated as po and pah. Read more »
At the beginning of our research, Jean-Benoît travelled to the island of Jersey, a mere sixteen kilometres off the coast of Normandy in the English Channel. The island is a kind of pastoral dreamscape, with small trails criss-crossing a beautifully unassuming countryside of green vales, medieval castles and Celtic stone monuments. At low tide its surface area extends to a grand total of fourteen by ten kilometres. A dependency of the British Crown, Jersey is a tax haven that harbours five times more foreign capital than Monaco. Like Monaco, it won this role thanks to a combination of handy location, beautiful scenery and unusual historical circumstances. Amazingly, over the centuries this tiny island has managed to retain its autonomy: it’s not even considered a part of the European Union. It has managed to hold on to an ancient Anglo-Norman law system that dates back a thousand years, and that financiers and the wealthy find particularly well adapted for sheltering their money. Read more »
Quebec and France: two different cultures separated by the same language! On the French radio program TOUT UN MONDE, which aired on Oct. 11th, 2011, Jean-Benoit explains the cultural differences in language when it comes to humour, vocabulary and perception. Listen here »
The Gaulish language ended up contributing very little to the vocabulary of modern French. Only about a hundred Gaulish words survived the centuries, mostly rural and agricultural terms such as bouleau (birch), sapin (fir), lotte (monkfish), mouton (sheep), charrue (plow), sillon (furrow), lande (moor) and boue (mud)—that’s eight percent of the total. However, Gaulish is still relatively well-known, partly because it left many place and family names in northern France. For example, the name Paris comes from the Parisii, a Gaulish tribe, and the word bituriges (which meant “kings of the world”) produced the names Bourges and Berry (the difference comes from whether the original name was pronounced with a Latin or a Gaulish accent). Linguists believe that Gaulish also contributed to development of the peculiar sonority of French, and that it was at the root of some important linguistic variations in what would become French. But, contrary to what some people believe, modern French is not Latin pronounced with a Gaulish accent. Read more »