The last time I studied languages, any language, the dinosaurs still roamed the earth. We were offered only one choice at the time: French, French, and yes, you guessed it, French. I have no idea why German, Italian, or even Spanish, were not on the curriculum, the fact of the matter was we were only allowed to learn one other language.
Not that I remember that much from those days. I was never particularly good with languages, despite the fact I have travelled, and I mean, travelled a lot. I’ve been to 37 countries over the years and, for the most part, I’ve managed to get by speaking English, a bit of broken German, and a lot of hand waving.
But now? Looking back, I guess I should have put a little more effort into learning why l’oiseau est dans l’arbre, and a little less time memorising, voulez vous coucher avec moi? now that I’m living in a French-speaking province.
It’s not surprising to learn then that my biggest problem is French verbs. Never mind words that sound the same. My brain literally stumbles and freezes. It’s embarrassing asking for a glass of water and finding out you said worm not glass — ‘vers‘ verses ‘verre‘. Maybe I should stick to tasse, except, when I use tasse my brain slips into German.
Yes, I lived and worked in Germany for a number of years. And no, I never really mastered German any better than I have mastered French. And saying danke instead of merci often leaves many a Quebecker looking at me strangely.
So while I continue to struggle with dentist and doctor appointments, I do usually get the right pizza delivered and have mastered asking for Poutine at Ashton, with aplomb.
Conversely, my In-laws have all benefited by learning a lot more English in the time I’ve been here, than I have French. Specifically, my nephew, the Cub, getting excellent grades at school for his command of English. And while I’d like to take full credit for this, I suspect his X-Box gaming habit has also gone a long way to his being a quick study.
Maybe one day I’ll be proficient enough to make myself understood, until then, I’m sure I’ll get by with bonjour and salut!