Sunday, December 21, 2008

learning french in a hurry

All of you who do not study when you are in school, please read this. I have a very good education. I went to Walsh Jesuit High School, a college prepartory school. I attended Akron University for two years and Kent State University for over six years. I have a Master's degree in English. I have close to a Master's in Education. After looking for spelling and usage errors, in this blog (there are plenty), please consider the content of what I am saying.

I never learned my foriegn languages. I had two years of French, two years of Spanish, and over three years of Italian. While I can gibber a few phrases and mangle some sentences, my languages outside of ebonics, slang, jargon and American English are woefully inadequate. I have aproximately five days left before I leave for Paris and I am listening to cds in French on the car radio, I am watching French movies (heh, heh, qui, qui) and I am reading French literarture so I am not ill prepared for being immersed in the French language. If I had only studied when I was young, if I had worked more on my languages, if, if , if, if....

Most people claim that they never use the language. That is woefully true in most of America. The last time I was in Schenectady around Christmas, I had opportunities to use Italian and Spanish. I could do neither. This summer I met a Parisian at a party and we could have conversed in French to eliminate others from our conversation about futbol and some other things that no one else had an interest. When I was in the car business, I had numerous opportunitties to use many different languages, such as Italian, French, Farsi, Hindi, and Russian. Many of the Russians also spoke French. My point is that is not an excuse.

Now that I am older, I developed a great interest in other countries, Shakespeare, onions, anchovies, that I never had as a child. In the case of languages, however, it is important to get the rudiments when you are young, so you can use them for the rest of your lives. Once you have one of the Romance languages, the others fall into place easier. Or so I am told, as the rudiments of one escaped me, as did the others. So as I prepare for France, instead of brushing up, I am delving into the language as I never did before, only to find, that my inability to remember my words in English, is repeating itself, exponentially in the French.

My lesson is a simple one: Use the opportunity you have when you are young to study and learn, as you get older, it gets more difficult. Your tastes change as you get older and the things you think are inane now, become more important as time goes on. While this advice is as pedantic as it gets, it is sound advice. Something you can take to the bank in your future.


Mary Gem # 5 :) said...

So are we going to get photo's of the trip to Paris on the blog? And some details about the fun you had, the things you saw, people you met and or went with.

Jack Wallingford said...

certainement, madame, n'est pa?
j'avvez paris bleus.

the city is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. despite its outward appearance as a grey and dun conundrum, it is a vibrant, roaring community, always awake and always revealing secrets. the streets are labrynthian and look too old and narrow for proper matriculation, but on foot each street is a discovery unto itself. statues, patissieres, bouglangeries, boutiques, the famous name designers are all represented on even the most inocuous streets. and some streets, such as the rue d'rivoli, blend into others so rapidly and with such aplomb, that you are whisked to the rue d' republique and the champs d'elyssee without knowing it. one minute, you are sight seeing and the next, the eiffel tower looms in the sky like the majestic monolith that it is.

the paris streets are thoughts, all grey and convoluted outside and suddenly springing forth with a present of color, surprise and ancient secrets. cobblestones that are hundreds of years old, are partially covered with pavement and then give way to statuary, ancient, unprecedented in size and scope. joan d'arc is golden and huge astride a fighting horse. moliere gazes down with intellectual wisdom and knowledge. balzac with his hair ascream and his pompous gaze, guides you through some side street to a main boulevard. each street at the level of the eye has fendi, ferragamo, namani, and gucci. the shops, the boutiques are all filled with color and product. Each color is an idea, a thought and are thought provoking unto themselves. it is a charm, a luck, a way of viewing things that you rarely find in america. even in the three hundred year old streets of Schenectady, which i have explored on numerous occasions.

The museum treasures are beyond what you have seen anywhere. i have attended the picasso travelling exhibit in Clevland, a huge monet and impressionist exhibit on loan here, and several lesser shows that feature heavyweight artists, but the french museums are loaded with paintings and sculptures that you have seen or recognize from books, but in paris, you can see them live and you never know where. one of my favorite artists is Balthus. Here in America, i may have see one or maybe none of his paintings. in the cente d'Pompidou, they have an entire room devoted to six of his very large canvases. amazing.
you will dig it if you go. I do have pictures. i will send them shortly. i also need to figure out my password. tout va bien.

Jack Wallingford said...

working on photos now. tout va bien