Levieux, Michel

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Married Eleanor Ross, October 31, 1961; children: Patricia de Cortanze, Valérie.


Home—148, rue de Lourmel, 75015 Paris, France; fax:


Educator and author.



Cassell's Beyond the Dictionary in French: A Handbook of Everyday Usage, Funk & Wagnalls (New York, NY), 1967, revised edition published as Cassell's Colloquial French, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1981, 2nd revised edition published in England as Cassell's Colloquial French: A Handbook of Idiomatic Usage, Cassell (London, England), 1982.

Année Bac: anglais 83, Bordas (Paris, France), 1983.

Année Bac: anglais 85, Bordas (Paris, France), 1984.

Insiders' French: Beyond the Dictionary, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1999.


Michel Levieux is a teacher in France who has collaborated with his wife, Eleanor, on several books that are intended to familiarize English-speaking students of French with the more subtle colloquialisms not commonly taught in the classroom. Their first book, Cassell's Beyond the Dictionary in French: A Handbook of Everyday Usage, later revised as Cassell's Colloquial French, is admittedly not a comprehensive guide, but it collects and thoroughly explains many common, modern-day terms and phrases that travelers to France may encounter. The book is divided into several sections, including short chapters on pronunciation and special sections addressing common terms used in such areas as occasions involving common courtesy, banking, housing, and gender usage. The main section is a fairly extensive French-English vocabulary guide that is, according to Edwin Jahiel in his Modern Language Journal assessment, "a kind of urbane, informative and witty tour of France and the French as seen through the language." While the authors assert that their guide to French colloquialisms is not exhaustive, their extensive use of cross references makes it a text that will likely be very useful to many students, said Jahiel, who concluded that this guide "will definitely be of great help to those who already know their basic French but wish to dig deeper into the refinements, intricacies, and mysteries of the language."

Since it was first published in 1967, Cassell's Colloquial French has undergone several revisions to expand and update its contents. This has been especially necessary in recent years, noted several reviewers, in light of the many cultural and political changes that France is currently going through. The influx of immigrants, the Internet, and other changes in France's society have made the book "an excellent guide," according to Pierre Watter in the Times Educational Supplement.

More recently, Levieux and his wife have compiled a completely new guide to the French language titled Insiders' French: Beyond the Dictionary. As with their previous guide to colloquial French, Insiders' French addresses the need for students to go beyond the usual language lessons to understand modern French society in its current context. Such issues as the current state of women's rights, health care, technology, the media, and political issues as they relate to the increasing complexities of French societies are addressed in this guide, knowledge that is necessary if a native English speaker is to understand the underlying meanings of French vocabulary. One example that Lucy Dallas used as an illustration in her Times Literary Supplement article was the word "foulard," which literally means "scarf." However, the increasing Arabic population in France has changed the usage so that it often is used to specifically indicate the headscarf that many Muslim women wear. While Dallas felt that some of the definitions the authors provide are fairly obvious and that this guide is not "definitive," she concluded that Insiders' French "does contain much that is useful and informative." Éliane McKee, who was even more enthusiastic in her review, asserted in the Modern Language Review that "Insiders' French offers a good view of the imminently changing culture of a people whose 'Frenchness' once seemed impregnable."



Modern Language Journal, October, 1968, Edwin Jahiel, review of Cassell's Beyond the Dictionary in French: A Handbook of Everyday Usage, pp. 382-383; winter, 2000, Éliane McKee, review of Insider's French: Beyond the Dictionary, p. 592.

Saturday Review, November 18, 1967, review of Cassell's Beyond the Dictionary in French, p. 40.

Times Educational Supplement, May 15, 1981, Pierre Watter, review of Cassell's Colloquial French, p. 43.

Times Literary Supplement, December 24, 1999, Lucy Dallas, review of Insider's French, p. 29.*