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Tag Archive: French

Feb 05

I don’t want to get lost on the Left Bank

One day last week I was practicing French while driving alone in my car. Just as I was about to finish CD#2 and could effectively ask, “Where’s the nearest taxi stand”, I realized I was being watched.

Every trucker, every front-seat passenger was staring at me. How did they know I wasn’t singing along to the radio? How could they possibly know I was repeating French nasal vowels, AN, EN, IN, ON, UN instead of singing along to Sweet Home Alabama?

Perhaps, puckering my lips and checking the visor’s makeup mirror with every pucker might have something to do with it. At least they couldn’t hear the French uvular consonants (sounds articulated with the back of the tongue against the uvula), could they?

To be clear, I am not planning a trip to France any time soon. Not because I do not want to go mind you, I do. Someday.

In fact, I have a pact with one son since his middle school years to take me to Paris when I retire.

The real reason the pressure is on right now to learn French is because I need to correspond better with my friends, two of whom are so incredibly fluent in the language that they are emailing me in French.

I have to do something about my rusty French so I can at least read their emails. Thus, the CD language lessons in the car.

Right now, what is worse is that one of the two, Kathy, is also learning Spanish and is just as much a whiz at that as she is at French. Marianne writes beautiful emails in French, near as I can tell anyway. But, that is not the end of this language proficiency story. Now, both these gals want to learn Italian as well.

I am dying here. I can’t keep up.

If I drive one hour, I can listen to one CD which has two French lessons on it and allows me to master, or so the manual says, getting around in France. Eventually, if I keep listening, I will be ordering breakfast and finding the bathroom before I know it.

Currently, I can ask, “Ou est l’hotel? (where is the hotel) and “Je vourdrais une carte” (I’d like a map).

After all, I don’t want to get lost on the Left Bank.

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