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And Speaking of Practical Americans….

Friday, 16. January 2009 11:32

Another thing that Joe and I noticed after moving here was that any time we would be out running or hiking and were passed by a female jogger, we would then be engulfed in a cloud of her perfume. It struck us as really funny that someone would think to put on perfume before she went out for a jog!

On a similar note, the majority of the French people working out are dressed for the occasion. If they are jogging or biking, they will be wearing the appropriate clothing for the task. Where I might throw on a pair of sweats and an oversize T-shirt, my French equivalent will have on her running tights and a fashionable tank top — along with her perfume.

So while walking in San Francisco on our last trip to the US, Joe and I were passed by a trio of female joggers (dressed in sweats, of course). And as we watched them approach, Joe says to me, “Do you think they’re wearing perfume?” We almost fell down laughing as they passed and we were bombarded with the unmistakable scent of….

laundry detergent.

Category:France, Travel | Comments (2) | Autor: Erica

Dilemma

Thursday, 18. December 2008 14:41

A friend of mine recently came over and dropped off this:

Books!

I now own over 30 book from the French masters of literature — Hugo, Flaubert, Balzac — in matching bindings, with illustrations, ribbon bookmarks, and did I mention that they’re in French. I also have a 16 book series of the History of Europe, also in French.

I now have a bit of a dilemma. The Book-Lover part of me is thrilled to have all these books. The Organizer-I-Already-Have-Too-Much-Sh*t part of me says that they don’t belong here.

Book-Lover: Oooooo, wow, aren’t they beautiful.

Organizer: Yes, they’re beautiful, but are you really going to read them?

Book-Lover: I might. I’d like to. How cool would that be to be able to say I read “Les Miserables” in the original French?

Organizer: But seriously? You couldn’t get through the unabridged version of “Les Miserables” in English, what makes you think that you’re going to read all 4 volumes in French.

Book-Lover: I know, but I am starting to enjoy reading in French more.

Organizer: Oh, please. You just finished reading Petit Nicholas,* you’re upgrading to Balzac next?

Book-Lover: Maybe….

And the conversation with myself continues.

* Petit Nicholas is a character in a series of books aimed at 9-year-old boys. I know how to call someone a dirty liar (sale menteur), crazy (dingue), and a sneak (cafard) in French now. Pretty cool!

Category:Books, French Language | Comments (3) | Autor: Erica

It’s the Accent

Monday, 1. December 2008 13:15

Part of the reason that I wanted to send Sophia to the halte garderie, the crêche and now the maternelle is so that she will be able to speak French without an accent.

As soon as I open my mouth, people know that I’m not from around here so I wanted to expose her to native French speakers early. I have read that babies exposed early to foreign languages have a better time speaking it without an accent later in life, and I have also read that we start to lose the ability to even hear a foreign language as early as six months old! (That’s why it can be so hard for adults to learn a language, they actually have to teach themselves to hear it first.)

So I’ve been rewarded for my efforts by hearing Sophia speak French in more of a slang. She says not only “oui” but also “oaui” (think “yes” and “yeah”) and I love to hear the indignation in her voice as she shouts “Arrête-uh” when she wants you to stop doing something — really, I do, I think it’s kinda cool and really funny at the same time.

What I hadn’t considered, though, is that the majority of the English that she hears outside of the home is from the large British population that lives in this area. There is a group of kids that we play with after school a couple of times a week where the majority of the kids have a British accent. Her cousins also live in England and all it took was a week of camping with Tyler before she started calling me “mummy.”

This has become a bit of a dilemma because while we are proud that she can say “ouai” instead of “oui,” we hadn’t expected to hear cookies called “biscuits” or “mummy” instead of maman. Joe and I had always assumed that she would speak like a proper California girl (Joe’s from the Valley for goodness sake)! It’s a little disconcerting.

Category:French Language, Sophia | Comments (2) | Autor: Erica