je suis la jeune fille! je suis muzzy!

Here it is, after 4:30 on a Friday afternoon, but I'm still at work. Why? Because it's pouring rain outside and I have to walk a million miles to my car, so I'm hoping it'll stop if I wait it out. In the meantime, here's my latest blogging assignment.

Stories about learning French or making stupid, embarrassing mistakes in French.

Ok. I can't think of anything grandiose at the moment, so I will bore you with short vignettes.

1) When I was 11, my parents and I visited the United Nations. Since we knew I would soon have to start a language in school, and since I had chosen French, my parents bought me this really neat book with all kinds of French words and phrases and stuff, with neato pictures. I remember reading the phrase, Je suis d'accord. I distinctly remember pronouncing it "Dee-Accorde" A few years later I ran across that little book, and laughed at myself.

2) In seventh grade, to learn the pass compos, we listened to the song Aline. I don't know who sang it. Even now I can still remember the words to the refrain:

Et j'ai cri, cri, Aline!
Pour qu'elle reviens.
Et j'ai pleur, pleur, Aline!
J'avais trop de peine...

3) In 9th grade French class, we frequently had to write skits with our friends to perform in class on certain themes. I can't remember now which friend it was, but every single skit that my buddy and I did over the course of the entire academic year was "another exciting episode of... Le Chat Dans Le Sac Plastique!". I swear, sometimes we couldn't get our lines out because we were giggling too much.

4) In my town, we had to take a foreign language from 7th-10th grade, but after that we didn't have to. I hated learning French. Hated it. Why? Because it was hard. But even though I hated it, I happened to be really good at it. As 10th grade was nearing a close, and we were signing up for 11th grade classes, my French teacher, Mr. Skea, happened to see that I hadn't signed up for any French classes. He called me into his office one day and basically pleaded with me to take more French. Years later, while eating a pain au chocolat under the Eiffel Tower, I wrote him a postcard to say how much I appreciated that little push he gave me.

5) In 11th/12th grade (I graduated in 3 years), we read all these short stories. I can't remember who wrote them anymore, but two of them have stuck in my memory. One was about a poor guy who was at a lavish party, and he stole these succulent peaches but got caught doing it. The other was worse. An old lady confessess to her also-old-lady sister that when they were young, she killed the other's fiance because she was jealous. She did it by feeding a bunch of glass to a swan, killing and cooking the swan, and feeding the glass-ridden swan to the young gentleman. Lovely.

7) On my first trip to France, during the flight into Paris, I wandered back to the airplane restroom. Someone was standing right there, and I asked them, in english, if it was free. She just looked at me and said, "Comment?" I understood from her response that she was French, but I had absolutely no idea what in the world she meant by that. It wasn't until after I had lived with the French that I learned they say that to mean "What?" when they haven't heard someone.

8) In Poitiers I pissed off my science teacher. See, here in Vermont we have the bad habit of shortening "excuse me" to "scuse me". One day in class, I bumped into the professor and, without thinking, I said "Scuse-moi". He was furious. I still have the bad habit of saying that in French, although I remember the endings nowadays. Still, "Scusez-moi" is strange.

9) Anyone who is fluent in a second language remembers that awkward stage where you can understand everything, and you can have a regular conversation, but you can't come up with things quickly. You still need the conversation to be a normal pace. Well, I remember the day when I exited that stage. It was the day I had a huge arguement with my landlady in Paris over the fact that she was going through my things when I wasn't home. I blew up at her, chewed her out royally, and never once made a grammatical error.

10) I love the word 'truc'. Why? Because it allows me to sound more fluent than I really am. I mean, even though I'm fluent, that still doesn't mean I know as much as someone who was raised in the language. Using the word 'truc' when I don't know the word for something, I am able to appear as if the word has just 'slipped my mind for a second', or perhaps that I was thinking too fast and got ahead of myself. That happens to people all the time. So this beautiful little word enables me to appear much more knowledgeable than I am.

Which saves my precious pride. Next assignment.

PS - It's still raining. Blarg.

katie - Friday, 13 June 2003 - 5:18 PM

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H mec, elle est o ma caisse? from srah blah blah - June 16, 2003 9:15 AM

    As Katie shared hers, so shall I share my French clash exshperiences. I am trying to alliterate. First of all,... [Read More]

Comments (9)

gravatar Jez - June 13, 2003 - 9:30 PM -

Truc, machin, bidule. Very useful words. It's 3.30 in the morning here. Why aren't I in bed? Good morning. Goodnight.

gravatar katie - June 13, 2003 - 11:17 PM -

Good morning, goodnight to you too - except it's not quite morning for me yet.

Hope you had a fun night out. I had a fun night in!

gravatar srah - June 15, 2003 - 9:50 AM -

Rather than comment, I'm going to write my own post on the subject. Later. For now, I leave you with these lyrics...

gravatar srah - June 15, 2003 - 11:03 AM -

What does 'muzzy' mean?

gravatar katie - June 15, 2003 - 3:18 PM -

Oops... I meant to type revienne, not reviens. Doh.

Muzzy? You don't remember those commercials on tv for the Muzzy series? Muzzy, this giant cartoon fuzzy thing that would teach french to little kids. The title of my post was one of the the sound bytes from that commercial. Everyone in my class used to joke about it...

gravatar srah - June 16, 2003 - 7:41 AM -

Don't remember... but I didn't have cable. That would explain, though, why my friend Bob only knows how to say "Je suis la jeune fille" in French.

gravatar katie - June 16, 2003 - 8:20 AM -

It wasn't on cable. Well, maybe it was, but it was also on PBS. :)

Lovely linkie.

gravatar srah - June 16, 2003 - 9:21 AM -

3) If France could learn/adopt one thing from the US, what would you want it to be? The US from France?

gravatar katie - June 16, 2003 - 9:27 AM -

Hrm. That sounds political. I'll have to think for a bit.

When I post that one, it will surely spark some interesting comments.

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