Who are we?

We come from two opposite ends of French academia: literature and linguistics. We both teach French at the university level, and we both know how frustrated students can get with textbooks that haven’t changed in forty years (except, of course, for the ever-rising prices) and the methods that force them to fight for information that should be clear and simple. Since it’s not likely that we’ll be able to change the entire field of French teaching anytime soon, we decided to write What the French?! as a supplement to help you get through the confusion. You may still have to buy a really expensive textbook and sit through canned dialogues at imaginary cafés, but with our book you’ll finally be able to figure things out and stick it to the Man.

What the French?! is a bold, different book for French learning based on the idea that the best way is for us to tell it to you straight and treat you like a reasonably intelligent human being.We come from two opposite ends of French academia: literature and linguistics.

Marc Olivier has a PhD in French Literature from the University of Washington, and is a tenured French professor with awards in teaching and distance learning. He writes academic articles that nobody reads on random topics like eighteenth-century entomology, horror films, and death by nostalgia. He is also a photographer and regularly neglects his blog at takeoutphoto so he can make stuff like this book. 

Andrew Livingston is currently a PhD student in Linguistics. In addition to teaching advanced French grammar as an undergraduate, he has played electric banjo in a band and draws a daily webcomic on crustaceansingles.com. Andrew’s other languages of interest include Arabic, Bislama and this one obscure Polynesian language you’ve probably never heard of.


Many people ask us, Why should I spend my valuable time reading this crap when there are so many LOLcats waiting to be laughed at? Why should I buy your grammar book when I already know the words to Lady Marmalade? Because we’re nearly twice as smart as a LOLcat and our grammar book won’t make you sound like a skank. But don’t take our word for it. Read these testimonials:

When I first read What The French?! I got so excited that I wanted to tweet about it to all my friends. Then I realized that I live in the eighteenth century and that everyone hates me.

Marie Antoinette


A mime

Oh dear. “What the French” sounds too much like a curse word. I’m sorry boys, I shall not be endorsing your book. You can take back your money.

An old lady we met at church
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