When I lived in Senegal two years ago, my biggest goal was to become conversational in French. Though I wanted to be able to speak Wolof, the first language of most Dakarois, I knew I couldn’t handle learning two languages at once.
By the time I came back here for work, I had pretty much doubled my French speaking capacity, thanks to nine months in Paris, and I felt it was high time to learn basic Wolof. Continue reading
I once read about a man who woke up from a coma speaking fluently in a language he had barely been able to speak before. This phenomena has been documented on multiple occasions, and apart from the brain damage I’ve always been really jealous of those people. Well… as of two weeks ago I may have joined their ranks. Continue reading
I was hoping that the more time I spent in France, the more I’d love it. That hasn’t been the case, unfortunately. I’m still pretty meh (or, I should say, bof) about a lot of this country and especially Paris. But the one thing that has really grown on me is the French language. I have gone from feeling rather neutral about it, to fairly drowning in its beauty and sexiness. In fact, today I was sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office and a couple next to me was whispering together as they filled out their form. I knew that they had dropped their voices for the sake of privacy, but it still sounded like post-coital bedroom talk to me. That would never happen in English, obviously.
It reminded me of this video I recently watched of Marion Cotillard on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert:
The great personal irony is that no matter how proficient in French I become, I’ll never be able to reproduce its euphony. I will always sound terrible in a language that makes native speakers sound like angels. There is a consolation prize, however. The other day I mentioned the month of August (août), pronouncing it ah-oot. The guy I was talking to had no idea what I was saying, even in context. Eventually he realized I was talking about the month that is actually pronounced something like oot, and he blushed and giggled, “Oh, c’est trop mignon.” As in, “That’s so cute.” This has become something of a theme. The more I fail at French, the more I succeed with French men, so I suppose I shouldn’t be too unhappy about it.
P.S. I just got back from a half-work, half-pleasure trip to Spain, and a few weeks before that I finally checked out the south of France, which was just as beautiful as I anticipated it would be. I will get around to posting photos from those trips soon…
A new study apparently claims that more than half of all cultures opt out of romantic kissing. Whaaaat? Though I’m often attracted to the foreign, this I can’t accept. Thank heavens I come from a land where swapping saliva is wholeheartedly embraced.
Here are some other interesting tidbits I’ve picked up in my recent Web wanderings. My fondest wish for you this weekend is that you read them while resting your chapped lips between glorious sustained makeout sessions:
This couple is really into foreignness, too, but of the temporal rather than geographical variety.
The art of farecasting the lowest airfare.
This has been around for awhile but I only discovered it this week: try scrolling down on Google’s “I’m feeling lucky” button until you reach “I’m feeling wonderful.” (Or if you’re feeling both lazy and wonderful, just click here.)
Why it’s important to learn a language out in the real world.
[Photo: Michela Castiglione]