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I can relate to this. One day, while camping in the sout of France with a
friend, I mixed with a bunch of 15, 16 year olds from Paris. By that time,
I'd had about maybe four years of French in high-school. I could understand
(after having it twice repeated), from a local woman where the nearest
bike-shop was, but that whole night (it was my first 'nuit blanche', as they
called it, staying up a whole night) I only understood 1 in every 4 words at
best. I had, however, plenty of fun anyway. I sometimes feel that the less
you understand, the more intimate the conversation. It was like this too
with my Swedish ex-girlfriend's mum: I understood about every other Swedish
word she spoke, but unfortunately for me she spoke Finnish almost all the
time, which is worse than Greek to me. So I lived entirely on her
mannerisms, the things she did with her hands, the way the corners of her
mouth moved, the glint in her eye, the way she opened and closed her mouth,
the increase and decrease in wrinkels around the eyes ... By now I can tell
from these gestures and what I know from my ex-girlfriend what goes on in
her mind, what she worries about, and what's been happening to her, and from
the context, just about exactly what she's talking about. But now things are
easier, as she now knows I understand her broken Swedish and so she
unleashes that on me instead. (for those of you who might be surprised, yes
I do still talk and hang out with ex-girlfriends ... :-) )

French is a funny language. Sometimes beautiful, sometimes pompous,
sometimes earthly, often insane. But great in song ... you can even hear
France in Robbie William's near-perfect chanson  "La Rue au Mandalay" ... he
sings it in English, but you just know it is French at heart.

Arwin

> -----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
> Van: [log in to unmask]
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]]Namens [log in to unmask]
> Verzonden: zaterdag 4 augustus 2001 4:43
> Aan: [log in to unmask]
> Onderwerp: Re: Singing in the City of Lights
>
>
> In a message dated 7/23/2001 8:14:13 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
> [log in to unmask] writes:
>
> <<
>  > Will someone else please write the post on the significance of this
>  > French poetry and translate into English ;-)
>
>  I guess I'll have to do it.
>   >>
>
> Perhaps everybody has become intimidated or anxious.  I can
> understand.  I
> studied "French" in school from 7th grade on through college.  I
> then married
> a man who was born and raised in Paris (the son of an American
> businessman;
> he has no French "blood") and who did not come to the US to live
> until the
> age of 25. So then, I have a good basis in "correct" French as well as
> "conversational" French.  I remember our first trip to Paris,
> about 7 years
> ago.  Two of my husband's sisters live in this city and after a
> few days of
> visited with them, we rented a room at a hotel on the left bank.
> After a day
> of going about, I left my husband to rest in our hotel room while
> I went out
> shopping.  For some strange reason, he didn't feel like perusing
> boutiques
> featuring women's clothing.  After a couple of hours and more
> than a couple
> of purchases, I noticed that it was getting dark.  I became a
> little anxious
> as I didn't exactly know my location and going to the woman at
> the counter of
> the store, I asked her in perfect French how to get back to our
> hotel located
> dans la Rue .  ...  She smiled at me and told me, but every word
> she spoke
> was gibberish.  I suddenly knew no French.  Fortunately for me, a college
> girl in the store came over to me and said in broken English that
> she would
> take me there.  My husband was sitting at a cafe across the
> street from our
> hotel and saw this teenage girl leading me like a blind person
> back to our
> hotel.  I had been but two or three blocks away, by the way.  My husband,
> hearing the story from the girl, laughed and held me protectively.  I sat
> down.  By the time the waiter came over, I had recovered some of my
> composure.  Un vin blanc, I said.  Later on that night, I would talk with
> people we met about politics, about Jim Morrison . . . in French. . .
>