Wednesday, August 7, 2013

And You Can't Come Because You Don't Speak French

So, today marked the first day that I actually had a "lesson" about the French language. It was a very short lesson, granted, but it supplemented the computer learning program quite well.

I am finding that my background in linguistics, as well as some Spanish and Arabic, are quite helpful in deciphering the written French language. After only a couple days, I can read simple paragraphs in French and understand enough to write a summary in English. I can form simple French sentences, and while I have trouble remembering which nouns are feminine and which nouns are masculine, I am generally grasping the grammatical concepts. I can understand the French audio and can transcribe simple sentences. Having only started my French studies a couple of days ago, I was feeling pretty good about my progress.

"I have until next October before the school's next trip to France," says I, to Myself.  "Self, I totally got this."

So I decided it was time to stop working solely with a computer and venture into the world of person-to-person French-y talking-ness.  Lucky for me, I have many friends who speak French. 

One particularly good friend of mine offered to start me off with basic pronunciation: the alphabet, simple words, numbers 1-10, etc. I was stoked. I went to her house this afternoon to practice.

As it turns out...I really, really stink at French pronunciation. :-D

During first attempts at the alphabet, my accent was a mutated atrocity of Spanish, Arabic, and Idahoan English. It was a veritable Frankenstein's Monster: Accent Edition.  It was horrifically coarse, and entirely lacking in the refinement and finesse required of those already among the ranks of French speakers. There was no *rhythm*, no *flow*, no...proper vowel shapes. 

French vowels are HARD, people!  And the consonant paradigm is quite removed from any involved in the other languages bumbling about in my brain-space. 

Luckily, EJ was very patient, and didn't tire of correcting me--which I greatly appreciated! (Actually, she probably DID tire of correcting me, because I needed it a lot, but she endured, nonetheless).  We only got through the alphabet, some demonstrative simple sentences on her end (which I was unable to repeat with ANY kind of accuracy) and numbers 1-5...sort of. hahaha

Maybe when I'm in France, I'll pretend to be a deaf-mute, and make everyone write everything down. ;-)  [then I'll pop down to Egypt and explain that I am completely illiterate, and would you dumb it down to amiyya fi'musr, min fudluck? {egyptian low-speak, please?}]

Ah, well. 

C'est la vie. 
Just don't ask me to say it. 
"Please dont cry Bar-ba-ra!
You're a nice Manatee!
You've been so good to me!
--But I must go into the world and to noble things for the good of all!!
..and you cant come because you don't speak French!
Au revoir!"