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Lesson Transcript

Jason: Feeling the Pain in France. C’est Jason. Jason here!
Ingrid: Bonjour à tous, Ingrid here!
Jason: In this lesson, you’re going to learn how to express pain or to talk about an illness in French. After this lesson, you will be able to say things like “J’ai mal à la tête” which is “I have a headache” or “Ca me fait mal ici” which means “it hurts here”.
Ingrid: Yes and you will see that there are many different expressions to talk about pain and sickness.
Jason: And what is our conversation about?
Ingrid: Our dialog will take place in a medical office, where Madame Dupont is talking to her doctor and explaining to him her health problems.
Jason: As it is a conversation between a doctor and her patient, they will both speak formal French.
Ingrid: Yes, this is always the case when speaking to a doctor.
1st time: natural native speed:
(In a medical cabinet)
Mme Dupont: Docteur, j'ai très mal au dos et je voudrais des médicaments.
Docteur: Où avez-vous mal exactement?
Mme Dupont: J'ai surtout mal en haut du dos.
Docteur: Je vois, avez-vous parfois mal à la tête?
Mme Dupont: Oui j'ai souvent mal à la tête mais c'est de famille, ma mère a aussi des maux de tête.
Docteur: D'accord, je vais vous prescrire des anti-douleurs pendant 3 jours. Ca sera deux comprimés chaque matin.
Mme Dupont: Merci docteur.
(1 time natural native speed with the translation)
(In a medical cabinet)
Mme Dupont: Docteur, j'ai très mal au dos et je voudrais des médicaments.
Doctor, I have strong backaches and I need some medicines please.
Docteur: Où avez-vous mal exactement?
Where does it hurt exactly?
Mme Dupont: J'ai surtout mal en haut du dos.
It‘s especially painful at the top of my back.
Docteur : Je vois, avez-vous parfois mal à la tête?
I see, and do you have headaches sometimes?
Mme Dupont : Oui j'ai souvent mal à la tête mais c'est de famille, ma mère a aussi des maux de tête.
Yes I often have headaches but it’s in the family, as my mother also has headaches.
Docteur: D'accord, je vais vous prescrire des anti-douleurs pendant 3 jours. Ca sera deux comprimés
chaque matin.
Alright, so I’m going to prescribe some painkillers that you will have to take for 3 days. It
is 2 pills each morning.
Mme Dupont: Merci docteur.
Thank you doctor.
Jason: It seems that this Madam Dupont is quite a regular patient, no? She seems to know the doctor quite well.
Ingrid: Yes I think you’re right, but you know, many people, especially old persons living alone, go to see their doctor quite often, and even if they are not very sick, it is an opportunity to chat with someone!
Jason: Really? But they must be very rich then to afford that!
Ingrid: No, that’s not even necessary as in France we have a very good healthcare system that allows people to be reimbursed easily. It is called the “sécurité sociale”.
Jason: Great, and how does it work?
Ingrid: It works like a big cooperative where every French worker has to give a large part of their initial wage (around 20%) to the “sécurite sociale”, in order to participate to the reimbursement of everybody’s medical expenses.
Jason: That is a solidarity system, in fact.
Ingrid: Exactly, but even if many foreigners find this system awesome because it allows low rates treatments, it causes many troubles today as the deficit of the “sécurite sociale”is now reaching the 6 billion euro mark!
Okay, so now, let's take a look at the vocabulary for this lesson.
The first expression we shall see is:
Avoir mal au dos [natural native speed]
Meaning “to have a backache”
Avoir mal au dos [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Avoir mal au dos [natural native speed]
Médicaments [natural native speed]
Meaning “medicines/drugs”
Médicaments [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Médicaments [natural native speed]
Surtout [natural native speed]
Meaning “above all/especially”
Surtout [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Surtout [natural native speed]
Avoir mal à la tête [natural native speed]
Meaning “To have a headache”
Avoir mal à la tête [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Avoir mal à la tête [natural native speed]
Prescrire [natural native speed]
Meaning “To prescribe”
Prescrire [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Prescrire [natural native speed]
Anti-douleurs [natural native speed]
Meaning “pain killers”
Anti-douleurs [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Anti-douleurs [natural native speed]
Pendant 3 jours [natural native speed]
Meaning “For 3 days”
Pendant 3 jours [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Pendant 3 jour [natural native speed]
Comprimés [natural native speed]
Meaning “pills”
Comprimés [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Comprimés [natural native speed]
Let's have a closer look at the usage of some interesting words and phrases from this lesson.
Jason: The first word we’ll look at is “Surtout” which means “especially” but also “above all,” depending on the context.
Ingrid: For example in our dialog we heard “J'ai surtout mal en haut du dos” that literally means “It‘s especially painful at the top of my back.”. Here, “surtout” means “precisely”.
Jason: Could you please repeat this word slowly for our listeners?
Ingrid: [slowly] surtout
Jason: and now at natural speed?
Ingrid: [natural speed] surtout
Jason: Great so you told us this word could also mean “above all”, could you give an example with it?
Ingrid: For example you have “C’est surtout une question de fierté” that means “It is above all a matter of pride”
Jason: Great! And now, the next word is?
Ingrid: Next is “Pendant” which means “during” or “while”
Jason: Convenient word then! What are some examples of different usages?
Ingrid: Of course! If you want to use the meaning of “during” to talk about a length of time you will use “pendant,” as in “Je reste en France pendant tout l’été,” which means “I’m staying in France during the whole summer”
Jason: And what about the other meaning “while”?
Ingrid: So yes but in this case, the exact expression is “pendant que”. For example you can say « Je sors le chien pendant que tu prépares le petit dejeuner » which can be translated as « I’m taking the dog out for a walk while he is preparing the breakfast.”
Jason: So in fact you can say “pendant que” when you want to talk about two actions that occur at the same time, is that right?
Ingrid: That’s right! It is the exact equivalent of « while » in English. It is very useful to link 2 simultaneous actions.
Jason: Is there any order to respect when using this expression?
Ingrid: No actually the 2 actions can be interchangeable. But if one of these 2 actions concerns yourself, normally you say it first.
Jason: Can you give us another example with this interchangeable thing?
Ingrid: Yes, for example you can say both “Remi se lave les dents pendant que Juliette se douche” which means “Remi brushes his teeth while Juliette is having a shower”. But you can also say it in the opposite order “Juliette se douche pendant que Remi se lave les dents”
Jason: I see, so this is very simple!
Ingrid: Yes it is, but note than when one of the 2 actions concerns you directly, you would rather say it first, as in « Je mange pendant que le bébé dort” that is “I eat while the baby is sleeping”.
Jason: A last thing about this expression is that, contrary to English, you don’t necessarily have to use a gerundive tense, you can use a simple one.

Lesson focus

Jason: So this lesson is dedicated to going over the different ways to express a pain or an illness. It will be very convenient if you go to the doctor in France, for example.
Ingrid: Yes indeed, and you’ll see that in French there are many ways to talk about pain and symptoms. The most widely used one is maybe “avoir mal” which literally means “to have a pain” even if in English you would rather say “I feel a pain” or you will mention a body part and add the word “ache” as in “backache”.
Jason: And how exactly would you say “I have a headache” in French?
Ingrid: The most natural way would be « J’ai mal a la tête » which is literally « I feel a pain in the head »
Jason: Could you repeat those slowly?
Ingrid: (Slowly) “J’ai mal a la tête”
Jason: Again, in a natural speed please
Ingrid: (Natural speed) “J’ai mal a la tête”
Jason: Great so what about “I have a backache” as we saw in our conversation?
Ingrid: It was “ J’ai mal au dos” or even “J’ai tres mal au dos” if it is very painful.
Jason: Can you please explain the pattern in detail for us here?
Ingrid: First, you have the verb ‘avoir’ that means “to have” so you have to conjugate it and to put “mal” after it which means “pain”. After that you have to use “a la” if the body part is feminine and singular, and use “au” if the body part is masculine or plural.
Jason: So the basic pattern is “avoir + mal+ a la or au +body part.” Can you give us some different examples please?
Ingrid: So with a feminine body part it will be “J’ai mal a la cheville” that means “
Jason: And what about a masculine or a plural body part?
Ingrid: Then it will be “J’ai mal aux dents’’ for “my teeth hurt” and also “J’ai mal au ventre” which is “I have a stomachache”
Jason: This seems quite easy! Can you give us other ways to say something hurts or more generally that you are sick?
Ingrid: Yes so for example if you want to say that you feel some pain in your knees you can say “mes genoux me font mal.” Here you use the pattern “faire mal” in the infinitive form, which literally means “it hurts me”
Jason: Can you repeat the last sentence slowly please?
Ingrid: (Slowly) « Mes genoux me font mal »
Jason: And once again at a natural speed
Ingrid: (natural speed) « Mes genoux me font mal »
Jason: Great and what about the simple sentence “I am sick”?
Ingrid: This one will be “Je suis malade” which is “I am sick” or “I am ill”
Jason: Once again please?
Ingrid: “Je suis malade”
Jason: Great, so now you can say where something is wrong or when you feel bad, which is very useful!
Ingrid: Yes and listeners, please have a look at the lesson notes where you will find any other ways to talk about pain or illness in general, which is necessary to learn if you want to go to see a doctor in France!


Jason: All right, that’s gonna do it for this lesson. See you next time.
Ingrid: A bientôt everyone!