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The Complete Merde: The Real French You Were Never Taught at School [Paperback]

4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 Oct 1996 Real French You Were Never Taught at School
A saucy guide to survival in everyday French. With chapters on insults, sex, drink and those expressive Gallic gestures, this book reveals the necessary vocabulary, explains its proper use and gives examples and exercises for the eager student.

Frequently Bought Together

The Complete Merde: The Real French You Were Never Taught at School + Excuse My French: Mastering the Lingo, Not Just the Language + Dirty French: Everyday Slang from "What's Up?" to "F*%# Off!"
Price For All Three: £18.94

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (7 Oct 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0002557681
  • ISBN-13: 978-0002557689
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.4 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 201,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From the Back Cover

If you want to speak French like the frogs, you've got to learn to swear like a native. What separates the true French speaker from those who can only 'parler le francais comme une vache espagnole', is the correct use of slang, from simple colloquialisms to specialist terms of abuse.

'The Complete Merde!' is an hilarious guide to survival in everyday French as it is really spoken. With scurrilous chapters on sex, drink and those silent yet expressive gestures so beloved of French motorists and shopkeepers, it reveals the necessary vocabulary, explains its proper use and gives examples and exercises for the eager student.

With infectious humour and endless 'savoir faire', 'The Complete Merde!' takes the lid off the French psyche to expose the idiosyncratic attitudes of this proud and fiery nation who produce such a wealth of vivid and colourful expressions.

Remember, to be authentic is to be rude.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Recommended by my funky french teacher a few years ago, this book has become my bible during my stay in France. It's amuzing illustrations and highly up-to-date content, not to mention it's crudeness, have caused many a laugh among my french colleagues. It covers a wide variety of topic areas from body parts to baby french and gives you useful phrases to learn at the end of each chapter. If you're off to France, don't get left behind because this is the real french you'll need to know to survive!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars génial 26 Mar 2006
A handy and thorough book about French slang phrases, covering most of the slang and typical relaxed sentence structures from everyday French speech as contrasted with the formal type we learn first at school and in textbooks, as well as some less common, and often amusing, examples of colourful phrases.
As to complaints here about lack of pronunciation guidance or copious examples of use - I'd say this book is aimed at people of about A-level standard or more, who already have a good grasp of standard French. Anyone else would glean a few useful tips from it, but not take it all in. As a graduate in French, I think it would have served me well if I'd read this before going to France in my gap year before uni. Even now, reading it, there are some expressions I'd not seen before, along with many old favourites.
Some of the content is a bit on the strong side, but that's part of the point!
Also, bear in mind some of the advice on how to speak like a native is helpful and practical (t'es sympa instead of tu es sympa; j'sais pas instead of je ne sais pas), but there are times when even in speech you might want to sound more 'text book' and less 'street'. It all depends on context.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 21 Feb 2000
By A Customer
Excellent if you are also doing a French course... I bought the book a year ago, and I initially found it a bit dull... only when I started a course to brush up my French did I realise how good the selection of words in this book is. You don't get many dialogues or expressions in context, though, and not all vocabulary areas are covered. Although it is not perfect, I am giving it a five star rating because you should not miss this book. A similar book I'd recommend is "Le français familier et argotique", also available from Amazon.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The complete Merde! 26 Jan 2006
A funny book with useful slang words and phrases. As well as being a fun read it gives a useful insight into the French culture with helpful tips on what exactly things mean eg. how to read a driver's number plate and know what it means - like where the driver is from etc. All in all, an ok book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For any Francophile 30 Nov 2012
By Alex
Verified Purchase
I first read this book before I had even been to France, and although I didn't get some of the content I did find it quite amusing. Since spending 10 years living in France I cans see what a great piece of observation this book is, although some of the attitudes referenced are now a little dated. I recently bought a copy for a teenager who was struggling to engage with French at school. Whilst some of the subject matter maybe went over his head, he really enjoyed it- the first time he has really engaged with any book about France. So, this book has something for everyone, no matter your level.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 26 May 2009
Verified Purchase
This is a brilliant, brilliant book and not just because of the funny and rude stuff - although it is worth it for that alone. It's an invaluable book if you're fed up with the overly formal french you normally come across in text books and want to learn a bit of argot
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5.0 out of 5 stars Guaranteed not "Merde" 5 Sep 2011
I definitely will not recommend this book for beginners of the French language as things can get very confusing. However, I do agree whole-heartedly with some of the reviewers about having a basic understanding of the language-and if I may add the French mentality and culture, because it is only then that the reader can enjoy this book. The author Genevieve does not only bring us up-to-date in the lingual evolution of your everyday French but also pokes and jabs at those little "malheures" that make the French what they are. As an example, her tongue-in-cheek comments about the average Frenchman's relationship with soap and toothpaste is spot on.

While there is definitely nothing wrong with a non-native speaker speaking French the way it was learned in school, it is the use of colloquialisms that ultimately brings out the interesting facets of the language for both speaker and listener. This book provides a delightful and highly informative insight into the nuances of "la langue Française". This does not only provide the reader with the linguistic knowledge needed to express oneself in a "native" manner but also provides the learner a certain sense confidence that brings him or herself one step nearer to understand the gallic essence.

Be warned though that as language is the expression of a nation's soul, some expressions which are perfectly acceptable in normal conversational French may sound crude or even jarring to certain ears. The author, herself French has assigned a sort of crudeness scale in the use of expressions to help prevent the unwary reader from socio-cultural misstep - a helpful aid especially for readers who intend have to visit and experience France first hand.
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