October 28th, 2013

happy girl

Learning French

I downloaded some 'learn French' apps to my phone a couple of nights ago and I spent last night playing with one of them before I went to bed. It was not completely useless; I have more or less added 5 more French words to my incredible vault of 10 French words of which I was in possession before I got those apps. In all seriousness, though, I finally know the difference between 'le' and 'la', and I note with interest how the Seine is called 'La Seine' in French (that is, if the map - whatever it was - that I randomly saw this on is correct). I personally wouldn't peg a river as something feminine, but I'm obviously not French.

I was having trouble remembering the difference between 'es', 'et' and 'est', until Arnaud, on the verge of sleep in his apartment in Bangkok but somehow managing to stay awake to listen to my rambling, explained it to me. He said that 'idiot' is a French word. He may very well be right, but I tend to take these proclamations with a pinch of salt because I don't trust him not to be biased by his unabashed cultural/national pride.

Anyway, the purpose of my new endeavour is two-fold and I have both a short-term and long-term goal. The short-term: I want to show off to my parents when we go to Paris in December by speaking very bad French with a terrible accent when doing touristy things like ordering food (I need to learn how to say 'can I have a chocolate eclair?' in French). The long-term: I have wanted to learn French since I was 14 but never got round to it because doing nothing about what I want to do is what I do best. 'Anytime now' is probably a good time to start doing this thing that I have wanted to do since I was 14. Of course, my dating a French guy provided pretty good impetus; but still.

Ironically, I'm not sure how my relationship will help in my new endeavour, for the simple reason that I am really, REALLY embarrassed to say things in French to him. I am generally embarrassed about trying to "speak" in a completely foreign language to locals; hence my feeling like an idiot in Paris in July, my simply smiling at the toll guy in France who said 'bonjour' to me (Arnaud: You have to say 'bonjour'! Don't be rude! He didn't see that I smiled), my feeling weird at saying something as fucking simple as 'ciao' in Rome. It was a miracle that I learned how to say 'straße' from Lys (a German friend) while in Berlin.

This general embarrassment, though, is significantly dwarfed by my embarrassment in relation to Arnaud. I don't like to feel stupid; I especially don't like to feel stupid around the guy that I'm dating. I feel really stupid when I try to speak a foreign language, and the guy that I'm dating is native in this particular foreign language. QED, no? He did, however, successfully get me to say 'bisous-bisous' (should the hyphen be there?).

On another note, I can't even pronounce his name correctly. The 'r' sound in French is so hard to emulate. It's sort of an elegant spitting sound, and it also happens to be completely alien to me. I guess the fact that he can't say my name correctly either kind of balances the scale. Even better: he told me that his parents, especially his mom, keep calling me "Liliane" and he's tried to get me to adopt it as my French name.

Alas, I refuse to get a Western name, now and forever, so too bad for him.

Anyway, I tried to listen to this Coffee Break French podcast thing on iTunes but I found it not very effective for me because it's purely audio. I need to look at the words as I listen to them and I need to know how the words are spelled because it's the only way that I can remember them. I'm not very good with sounds but I can spell pretty amazingly, and so I can remember how to spell a lot of words and what many of them mean, but I can hardly remember how to pronounce most of them. It's quite a shame because that guy in the podcast was very obviously French as he had a very strong French accent when he spoke in English, which means that I won't worry about learning something wrong like I do with the apps that I got. One of them has these translation exercises and the translation from French to English and vice versa seem a bit too direct. Hmm.

Okay I'm tired. I gotta wake up early to send out some job applications because I want to go out in the afternoon so I have to get shit done in the morning. My day usually doesn't start until like, 3 pm - can't make myself get out of bed until after 11 am and can't do anything until after I have eaten and showered. I'm such a useless bum.