Just a short post today. I have been rather snowed under with article commissions recently. I’m not complaining – after all, it’s partly how I earn my corn. But it doesn’t leave much time for other things.
If you were following back then, you might remember that last year I entered a national competition called Les Timbrés de l’Orthographe. It aimed to find the people in France who master French grammar best. You had to answer 30 questions about the French language and grammar, on the basis of which you were selected (or not) to go through to the regional finals.
I was one of the 10,000 (out of 20,000) last year who got through the first round. The regional finals, at Toulouse in my case, involved a series of multiple choice questions plus a fiendish dictation. I fell at the dictation hurdle because I simply couldn’t fathom some of the words delivered in a Toulousain accent. Five hundred people went on to the national finals held at Paris in June.
The same competition is taking place this year, run by a publishing company and sponsored by La Poste among others. I decided to have another stab at it and heard yesterday that I had been picked for the regional finals again, to take place in March. This time 25,000 people entered and 10,000 have gone through.
Actually, there isn’t a great deal of merit in getting through at this stage. You can find most of the answers to the 30 multiple choice questions either in grammar books or on the Internet. However, there were a few trick questions, too.
I expect that my chances of getting any further are roughly equivalent to those of Hell freezing over. However, as a foreigner, I feel some pride in mastering French to the extent that I can get through the qualifying round of a national competition.
It means I get the chance of a day out in Toulouse as well.
P.S. Last year I received two emails: one said I had got through, the other said I hadn’t. It appeared that the first was the one to go by since I was on the list when I turned up for the regional final. It was therefore with some trepidation that I opened the second email that arrived from the organisers today (Sunday). Fortunately, it simply repeated the contents of the email I received on Friday. It appears I really am in the regional finals. Watch this space…
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