I have adopted , as the basis of the present volumes, the Pronouncing French Reader; on a Plan New, Simple and Effective, by Alexander G. Collot, Philadelphia, 1837.
Collot was convinced that interlinear translations was the most rapid and thorough, and at the same time 'easy and delightful' plan which has been devised for the acquisition of languages.
Collot observed that Interlinear System of instruction, had been advocated, under various modifications of detail, by names no less distinguished than those of Cicero, the younger Pliny and Quintilian among the ancients, and among the modems, of Erasmus, Ascham, the tutor of queen Elizabeth and the most learned scholar of his day, the poet Milton, Locke, and Hamilton; among the English. Condillac and Dumarsais, among the French.
John Locke executed such a translation of Aesop's Fables, which appeared soon after his death; and this little work of his has been the original model of all subsequent Interlinear translations.
Volume One of this work consists of a collection of fables with interlinear translations which I have corrected and revised to provide the most correct possible translations.
Volume Two will consist of longer instructive and purely moral extracts from the best writers in the French language. The selections have been made with a view to as great a variety of pleasing subjects, as also to the primary consideration of their containing as many new words, as possible ; and are, besides, sufficiently long to give the student an ample
specimen of the style of each writer.
Both volumes are confined to prose pieces exclusively . Collot believed that the difficulties besetting the path of the student in the first stages of his progress are sufficiently numerous, without increasing them by the introduction of poetry.
The combined volumes will provide the student with a familiar acquaintance with several thousand French words in frequent use ; and, which is much more important, with the chief peculiarities of French idioms and forms of expression.
The student is not forsaken, until, by a gradual progress from difficulty to difficulty — from interlinear translation, to the naked text accompanied only by explanatory and critical notes — he is qualified to undertake the perusal of authors, unassisted by helps of any kind.
Every word, as far as possible, is rendered in its corresponding part of speech, even to the cases of nouns and tenses of verbs ; so that the French grammar is taught already, even before its formal study is commenced, to those who know English grammar.
Where it has not been practicable to translate an expression literally, and at the same time to the sense also, the free translation has been placed under the French text, and reference made to a note.
Collot proceeded on the principle that, owing to the scantiness of the vocabulary of all languages, most words have more than one meaning.
Instead of always translating the French word “de” by the English word “of” Collot recognized several other equivalents of it, and has frequently rendered it by the words “by, from, with, etc.”
A 'Grammatical Commentary' consisting of Notes, few in number, but highly important as explanatory of embarrassing difficulties, or illustrative of striking peculiarities, forms one of the novel features of these volumes.
They have been preserved in a body for convenience sake at the end of both volumes.
They should be reviewed as frequently as necessary.
Collot advised that until some practice has been acquired in translating, pronouncing, and speaking the language, through the medium of these interlinear translations , it would be useless and even worse than useless to accumulate burdens on the already overloaded scholar by involving him in the acknowledged difficulties of grammar study.
In his own tuition, the study of grammar was withheld from the pupil, until he had perused the whole of the Fables, and committed to memory, so as to recolle
Mr. Robert's Interlinear French Reader, Volume One
Publication date: 22/05/2014
A progressive interlinear method of mastering French
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