March 13, 2011 | French
French is no longer the same language it was when I first studied it.
Special note: I am posting this entry late, for which I offer my apologies.
In the past few days I have done 13 more Pimsleur lessons. Some of them I did while running in Central Park (I would be able to run faster if not for those French r’s, which require considerable physical energy).
Some of them I did running errands.
Some of them I did lying in bed.
Some of them I did lying on the floor stretching.
Some of them I “did” while sleeping, so I then had to redo them.
They are going well; I have only 24 left.
Me in Cab with Flashcards: Too Bumpy to Study
Last night en route (see that French?) to a party, Brandt and I did French flashcards together on the subway. People were looking at us funny. Partway there we switched from subway to cab, which was unfortunately too bumpy to continue with the flashcards (or to get an in-focus photo).
Later we took a cab home, too. The driver initially struck me as pretty gruff and uncommunicative. I soon realized he was French-speaking by the radio program he was listening to; it sounded like an African French to me, though I am by no means able to identify accents with reliability.
When we reached home (I don’t like to talk to cab drivers when they are actually driving), I had a little conversation with him in French. To recap: I said, you speak French, right? And he said yes. And I asked where he was from. He said Senegal. I said I was studying French right now, and he said I was doing very well, that he could understand me perfectly. His face lit up as soon as I began speaking to him in French, and he was utterly charming.
This conversation would not be terribly exciting to the objective observer, I suppose. But it was thrilling to me. Like a new world opening up. And also plain old fun! Just in that little exchange I felt so much more confident in my pronunciation and constructions than I did two weeks ago.
Following are several observations from today’s grammar and vocabulary lessons.
First, the French word for “lawyer” (l’avocat) is the same as the French word for “avocado.”
Second, I find it funny that “grape” in French is raisin. As a consumer of both grapes and raisins, I also find it confusing, but I will work it out.
Third, I am perplexed about the differences between j’aimerais versus j’aimerais bien versus je voudrais. For “I would like,” I have always said, “Je voudrais,” as in “Je voudrais manger ton gâteau.” (I would like to eat your cake.)
According to what I am hearing from Pimsleur, I have now formed the impression I can also use either j’aimerais bien or even j’aimerais, but I always thought j’aimerais meant “I would love” rather than “I would like.” Such issues matter; you don’t want to overstate your prospective affection for something.
Fourth, it is interesting to study a foreign language years after you first studied it, because the experience makes it obvious how language changes. I am now learning technical vocabulary that simply didn’t exist when I studied French in college. Page d’accueil, for example, is what I just learned for “home page.”
Surfer sur le net translates itself, I think.