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19 January 2010

English Chat, a Little Cat and Teleportation from Acton to Selfridges

Almost exactly one year ago, I wrote about my favourite free French magazine, Ici Londres (yes, it is the only free French magazine in London, as far as I know)--the one that is so void of non-advert/advertorial content that it makes Metro (or even London Lite (RIP)) seem like a serious newspaper. The recipe of the month is still for une galette de rois and not much else has changed at the magazine either--at least, they haven't hired a proof-reader or anyone to provide any actual content.

Still, I do enjoy a quick peek at the petites annonces and although I told myself that this time I wouldn't laugh at people's English, especially given that my French is far from perfect. Well, it turns out that the people who place the ads are apparently weird enough that I don't need to pick holes in their grammar. For example:

  • "I am looking for a little cat to keep me company and make a surprise to my sister. I do not want a pedigree one though as I will not pay much for it, but provide great care. If you want to give one of yours email....."
  • "Jeune homme de 23 ans, sérieux propre et sociable, cherche logement ou colocation [...] Echange bonne discussion en anglais contres mes spaghettis al dente." ["23-year-old French guy, serious, tidy and sociable, looking for a flat-share [...] Will swap good English chat for my al dente spaghetti." Eww...]
  • "East Acton [Zone 2] - 3 min du métro et bus et 5 min d'Oxford Street" [I'm sorry but nowhere in Acton is 5 minutes from Oxford Street unless the writer means by helicopter and even then, I don't think there is a helipad handy...]
  • [Translated from the French]: "Looking for psychologist or psychology student with knowledge of Asperger Syndrome to help my son. In exchange, we offer a single room and meals."
From the features section: This month, there is an article on gemstone therapy. Oh wait, it isn't an article; it's just two paragraphs waffling about the "power" of gemstones and then a link to the website of an "expert gemmologue diplômé de l'Institut national de gemmologie de Paris, Diplôme universitaire de Gemmologie." A gemologist from the University of Gemology (not that that's a word in English), who, funnily enough, sells expensive, gemstone-filled jewellery. Also, there is an ad for this same company on the front cover (the cover being a montage of three separate ads).

The best bit of all, though, is the part where you can pay £32 per year to have this magazine delivered right to your door. Based on the ads I would estimate that about 90% of the readership are French (mainly French people looking for jobs and/or houses) and the other 10% are rich English people who want their children to be bilingual and thus want to hire a French au pair. Given that almost all French people in London seem to live in Marylebone or South Ken/Fulham where copies of this magazine are hard to avoid, do the publishers really expect to pay £32 per year for a subscription? Admittedly, I did chuckle out loud while reading the latest issue but for £28 per year, I can (and do) subscribe to Private Eye, which is much better value for money; and yes, I know that I'm not exactly within Ici Londres's target audience...


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