Translation:He is reading a book, while I am writing a letter.
They are not suppose to sound the same. I also struggled with this specific one, the exact same way you did. In my case, it could just be that I am more accustomed to hearing English than French, but I'm guessing the computer voice also has something to do with our confusion.
Actually, I've never heard about it in India. Here we don't use colloquial terms (here, idioms) a lot. Because we use English (our second language) for official purposes so it's a bit formal. About 'eating like a pig', that is really there in Hindi (National language of India)! You can say- 'soo-ar kaheen kaa' which literally translate into 'a pig of somewhere.' although here the somewhere refers to a weird kind of place or place where pigs live. This phrase means that you behave like a pig or are ill-mannered. BUT REMEMBER!: Never use this phrase. It can be offensive.
This seems really nuanced, but I think that "alors que" is a subordinating conjunction while "alors" is other things. A subordinating conjunction is the beginning of an adverbial clause. For instance, "Walk the dog while you're in town" or "He went out even though I didn't want to" ("Il est sorti alors que je ne voulais pas"). The italicized parts are adverbial clauses because they modify the verb in the main clause.
"Alors", on the other hand, can be a number of things:
- A plain conjunction: "She doesn't understand, so we need to help her" ("Elle ne comprend pas, alors il faut l'aider")
- A filler: "And then? So what?" ("Et alors?")
- As part of an adjectival clause: "Then-President Bill Clinton..." ("Le président d'alors Bill Clinton…")
You can report it if you like, but I know that I wouldn't use although or though in this situation because it gives an implication that your letter writing and his book reading should have an effect on each other. Although and though can mean - in spite of the fact that... and that isn't the sense that is being used here. If you want that sense you want 'que' on its own for though or bien que or encore que, or même si or bien que or mais or malgre que for although.
Alors que is while, when, whereas, or as. Not although or really even though.
Because it implies that his reading a book is or should be affected by your letter writing. While or whereas indicate that these activities are happening at the same time, and that you are doing something different, without suggesting that his book reading should be affected by your letter writing.
Well, as I see it now, I was actually wrong - these ones are forbidden liaisons. Have a look at this link:
Thanks for replying, and I apologize for my previous misleading comment. I will not delete it, as I believe it can be useful for future readers - at least not to make the same mistake as I did.
Please, can anybody explain? As I understand, this sentence with 'alors que' may have two different meanings, that depend on context: -- each of us has different things to do: he reads and I write a letter (neutral sense) -- he reads the book instead of helping me writing a letter (negative sense) Am I right?
In the version where this sentence is spoken and we're suppose to write it out, did anyone else hear "Il y a un livre..." as opposed to "Il lit un livre..."? After getting it wrong, I listened to what she said again multiple times and I definitely hear too many vowel-sounding words for it to be "Il lit un livre..." Am I hearing it wrong?
It doesn't sound quite the same as 'Il y a un livre' would. That your hearing needs refining isn't a reason to accept an incorrect answer. Also the phrase doesn't actually make sense if you had Il y a un livre alors que j'écris une lettre. - There is a book whereas I write a letter.