Thursday, 5 January 2017

Is That A Fish In Your Ear?

I've always loved language. This fact is probably self-evident thanks to my degree and nature of my blog. I pontificate about minor points of detail throughout my linguistic life nearly every single day. Hence why I thought I could probably get a lengthy blog post out of it! I've stolen the title for this piece from one of my favourite linguistics books. It deals with the complexities of translation and all the problems that come with it. Let me first begin with a little anecdote...

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin. Something rather funny happened to me the other day. It wasn't funny at the time, however now I look back on it I can see the humour in what took place. A Tuesday evening after work, I went to the supermarket over the road from my flat to finally do some food shopping. I've been lax recently in terms of cooking so it was about time I got something new and interesting in. The interesting part came when I got to the till and there was a discrepancy with my change. This guy knows I'm English. We see each other at least twice a week. It was incredible to me that he could assume I wouldn't pick him up on giving me 3€ instead of 10€! It was at this moment I went into full Parisian mode. For the first time ever, I got properly angry in French! I was so proud of myself I may have skipped up the stairs to my flat my correct change firmly in my wallet.

Little things like this happen to me everyday. I get lost in conversations because I don't understand what is going on so people assume I'm quiet which is definitely not the case. I've been reading a book that was a Christmas present from my favourite sister. "Me Talk Pretty One Day" by David Sedaris. It's a bit out there so if you like your reading material conservative then this isn't the book for you. I've been laughing out loud (not something that is often done on the metro) at the passages where he describes learning French. It is reassuring to know that at least one other person struggles as much as I do. 

I've been learning French for nearly 10 years now but sometimes I'm still all of a quiver when asked a simple question. This encounter in the supermarket did one thing for me though. It proved to me that I can do it. My language skills are good enough for me to express my dissatisfaction and surely that's half of being French?! I may bang on about it but this does make me feel like I am on the cusp of becoming truly more native than the natives, who knows maybe another 10 years and I'll actually sound like one!

I realised mid-way through planning this post that when I am reading in French I no longer translate in my head word for word what is written or at least my processing ability has improved dramatically at any rate! I find the code-switching difficult. That's the term for when your brain has to switch between two languages in a short period of time. Some people can does this in seconds with no discernible difficulties but you will find me still using French syntax after a day at the office even if I'm talking to an anglophone!

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