Musical vocabulary in French

I am beginning to see that when it comes to musical instruments, the French words for them are pretty easily recognizable. For example, if I look up flute, piccolo, guitar, and bouzouki, the primary instruments I can play, I get flûte, piccolo, guitare, and bouzouki! Also, I know from Le Vent du Nord song lyrics as well as the liner notes of the Symphonique album that violin translates to violon.

And that of course points me at an important musical verb: jouer!

So I can say Je joue le piccolo, la flûte, la guitare, et le bouzouki. The important thing for me to note here also is which noun gets ‘le’ and which one gets ‘la’. Why piccolo gets ‘le’ and flûte gets ‘la’, damned if I know! But that’s the wacky fun of a language that does gendered nouns. I remember running into that all the time as well with German.

(Wherein that same sentence I just quoted becomes Ich spiele Piccolo, Flöte, Gitarre und der Bouzouki, according to Google Translate, but I must be dubious about that sentence slapping a ‘der’ in there when none of the other nouns get one.)

I just bought the ebook edition of the book 501 French Verbs (the print version of which userinfomaellenkleth very kindly sent me!), and it tells me ‘jouer’ is considered an essential verb for students. Certainly it is relevant to my interests! And present tense conjugation looks pretty easy. I will need to see if I can practice this one!

All of which should warn y’all that I’m going to be Frenchgeeking periodically on this blog, as I inch my way into trying to figure out more of the words of all this Quebecois trad I’ve been listening to! Again, mad props to userinfomaellenkleth for pointing me at that verb book, and I’m on the hunt for French translations of any of my favorite SF/F authors as well. If I can get hold of any French editions of anything by userinfojimbutcher, userinfomizkit, userinfokatatomic, userinfocmpriest, userinfoandpuff, or Julie Czerneda, that would be particularly awesome. :D

ETA: Fixing the spelling of jouer up above. I keep making the typo joeur, oops! Thanks to userinfollachglin for the catch!

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Angela Korra'ti

As Angela Highland, Angela is the writer of the Rebels of Adalonia epic fantasy series with Carina Press. As Angela Korra'ti, she writes the Free Court of Seattle urban fantasy series. She's also an amateur musician and devoted fan of Newfoundland and Quebecois traditional music.