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on 22 July 1999
When I first moved to Paris, I could barely speak a word of French (and had no job, and nowhere to stay, but that's another story), apart from a heavily-accented "une baguette de pain s'il vous plait Madame". And I can honestly say that this book was THE most useful thing I read -- indeed, it's the only book I pored over and learnt sections of by heart. Yes, speaking proper sentences and being polite and all that is all very useful, but if you really want to enjoy yourself, and get on with the locals, then this is the motherlode. Even if you only know two words of French, slipping a few well-chosen words like "bagnole", "boulot", and "flingue" (and the choicer swear words) into your conversation will break the ice, and impress your hosts, a LOT more than knowing the subjective pluperfect ever could. I eventually took "proper" French lessons at the Sorbonne, and had many arguments with my teacher about the relative merits of "correct" and "colloquial" French. For me, learning a language is about communicating, not about grammar, and this is the perfect place to start. To this day, I make sure that none of my friends or colleagues goes off to France for any period of time without a copy of this under their arm...
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on 23 April 1999
This book is an excellent source of words and expressions, of varying degrees of vulgarity, that are used all the time by french speakers. I used it often during the first of my two years in France. Its real value is not for those in French 101 but for those who already speak decent french and want to learn the expressions used every day by the young and some of the french media (magazines, movies etc). Translated literally many of these words might seem offensive (e.g., connard, encule, putain), yet as the book points out, many times these are the phrases you hear the most in the metro or cafes of France. It is important to realize that even though these words do not carry the same force as their English translations, one must still pay attention to the social context in order to aviod disrespectful "faux pas"!
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on 18 February 2001
I've had the UK version of this book for years, as well as the sequel "Merde Encore" and the Spanish version "mierda".
I couldn't believe my luck. Instant credibility in a few hours reading. I've shown it to many friends and it has been a universal hit. If it was used as a text book in schools, the interest and uptake of foreign languages would be much higher!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 4 September 2009
I found this less helpful than the [ASIN:0764103458] Dictionary of French Slang and Colloquial Expressions as it has something of the tedium of schoolboy humour about it. However the words and phrases are given Michelin-like stars according to the degree of rudeness which saves one from social gaffes. But it is less useful than the slang dictionary for watching films or reading modern French novels and I would never dare to use the swearwords in my all-too-obvious English accent anyway.
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on 23 September 2007
Any author of this type of book is on a hiding to nothing - the readership is likely to stretch from the purient schoolboy to the scholarly student!
This book treads a good middle ground, with plently of gutter language, but with a hefty nod towards the correct grammar and pronunciation.
It's not all gutter language - that would make a very dull book - but it includes plenty of colloquialisms too.
The reader or student of this type of book is very much in the hands of the writer not to lead them into social difficulties (!) and the author of Merde! tries to help by grading the language from zero to two stars! However, I do wonder if the author has a prudish streak because there seem to be tranches of the English language that are not mentioned (do French women not menstruate?!).
There is also a danger of this type of book becoming out of date - and again the reader would be unaware of the changing language - with the potential for gaffes in use.
There are occasional curiosities , leading one to wondr why the inclusion - eg bistro. Furthermore, I am unsure whether the book is aimed at the British or American market - the author is clearly English, but there are occasional americanisms thrown in, which make it a strange read for an Englishman, but there are insufficient to make it a useful tome for an American.
Hoepfully the next edition will include an A-Z reference so that a term can be referenced back to a given page (eg Merde - see page 99 etc); perhaps a section on internet / email / txt speak might also be entertaining and potentially useful as well.
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on 20 December 2006
This book is entertaining to leaf through every so often, paritcularly if you might be visiting France any time soon!

You do, however, require previous knowledge of French grammar if you want to be able to use your newly learned words effectively.

It's great if you want to yell at someone, baffling them so much they're unable to retalliate. Even if you don't want to use the vocabulary (which includes phrases such as "to tear one another's guts out" and "to have it off"), it's still quite an amusing read.
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on 26 September 2009
This is a fairly good book. It essentially gives you idiomatic phrases that as a native English-speaker you would say, but in idiomatic French e.g. you idiot-espece d'idiot, to lash rain-flotter, and more unsavoury words as well. As the name suggests you wouldn't really learn most of this stuff in school, or even in college. It gives examples where they are needed. However, it's really just page after page of text, with only a few black and white pictures here and there, so it becomes a bit monotonous very quickly. But if you don't mind that, then it's quite good.
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on 13 May 2009
I bought the book for a Dutch friend who used to live in the UK, but now lives in France. She told me that the book was more sexually orientated than expected, with not exactly a lot of useful phrases for an every day conversation.
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on 16 September 2008
Not an exhaustive or scholarly dictionary of 'argot', but a saucy guide to survival in everyday French as it is really spoken. Includes chapters on love, sex, food and drink, expressing anger and insults
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on 3 February 2016
This is utterly hilarious and totally indispensable if you are going to spend any time in France (or indeed other francophone countries). It gives you the gen on all the profanities on offer in la belle langue. What really makes this a little gem is that the words are starred enabling you to judge the severity of each insult; this is helpful because often there are no direct translations and usage is very different. We have had much fun bringing this out with French friends and now that my son is at secondary school in France, it is coming into its own.
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