Friday, January 8, 2010

Lost in Translation

Parlez-vous bonjour chien?

That, my friends, is the sum total of over six or seven years of French class. I also know the words "banque", "pamplemousse" and "poutine"…but I can’t put them in a sentence.

Now, I really do wish I could speak French fluently, but I just never could get a really solid grasp on the language. There were simply too many things that kept me from soaking in the language of love.

First of all, I found French too amusing. In fact, the only reason I even remember the words “banque” and “pamplemousse” is because I used to crack myself up saying them. Pamplemousse…that’s funny. I don’t even know what it means.

Second, I found French teachers amusing. They always spoke with an accent. It made me giggle. But, the cream of the crop was my grade nine French teacher. I don’t remember if he had an accent, but I do remember that he was a guitar playing hippy. That year I learned more about bad folk music than I did conjugating verbs.

I think I saw him playing for money in the subway a few years later.

And third, I found French to be well…useless. I’m just being honest.

You see, in my young mind, the language served only two purposes…communicating in France (or Quebec), and wooing the ladies.

Well, back then, I figured that I wasn’t leaving Toronto anytime soon and this scrawny awkward little boy was going to need a lot more than French to woo anyone…so, why bother?

I was not alone in this assessment. A friend of mine actually failed, on purpose…by principle, French class because he used to say to me “This is so stupid, when am I ever going to use French?” At the time, I thought he was logical dude.

However, I saw him recently. He’s now a Trekki that has taught himself to speak Klingon. Klingon? Really? Somehow I don’t think he uses the same template to make his decisions, anymore.

Now, I don’t know if he regrets his past attitude towards French, but I will admit that I do...for two reasons:

1) I ended up leaving Toronto: Some time ago, I had to drive through Quebec on the way home from the Maritimes. Believe me, when I stopped for gas at 2:00am in that small town outside of Quebec City…“Pamplemousse”, almost got me beat up!

2) I grew up: After High School, I became much more comfortable with myself and the opposite sex, and boy did I wish I knew something more than “Parlez-vous bonjour chien?”…it almost got me beat up!

So, if you were to ask me now, I’d say that mastering a second language would be well worth attempting. Of course, learning English is hard enough (see FOH-NIKS) so you really need to have a deep passion in order to pull it off.

In regards to passion, I’m not there yet, but I have begun to dabble in multiple languages. For instance, I know that on the Dutch Sesame Street, Pino is “blauw”,
and that "Ikea" is Swedish for "Common Sense".

So, technically, I am now multi-lingual.

I’ve come along way.

Ciao!
Timmy

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