"All words are symbols that represent unspeakable realities. Which is also why words are magical." (Donald Miller tweet)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

en français, s'il vous plait

The little town I lived in as a child started teaching students French in ... Grade 4, I think. Maybe earlier. Then we moved, and there was no French until Grade 7. I was the one with the faint air of polite superiority, since I already KNEW how to conjugate the verb "to be".

(If you grew up in the Canadian English school system, you just started reciting it in your head, didn't you? "Je suis, tu es, il est ...")

I loved French. Took it all the way through high school. And then never looked at it again - there was no reason to, no use for it, no one to practice with. 

Then in 1999, I went on my first trip to Ukraine and just fell in LOVE with the Russian language. Decided to learn on my own. 

Easier said than done. Language CDs were cheap for the first level, but then went for $400 a pop after that. Community colleges taught Mandarin, Italian, French ... but not Russian. And if you think it's hard to find someone to practice French with, try finding a Russian-speaking friend!

I like languages though. My theory is that having learned at an early age to read, write and play music - which is a language - my brain learned to function semi-decently in this area. 

As opposed to statistics. *shudder*

So now I'm back to learning French, because now there is a need and a use and people to practice with, AND a handy little Duolingo app which is NOT $400. 

Any day now they're releasing Russian in Duolingo, so I'm pumped about that too. 

But ... Here is the French sentence that Duolingo keeps returning to. There seems to be a deep concern that I know - really KNOW - how to say this. 

Can I just ask you - when will I ever use this sentence?! Reporting on a recon mission to an unknown land? Letting the girls know where potential husbands are? A sigh of relief that the men have finally settled down and are making money now? Is this a description of heaven? A prospective work environment? Are these men rich BECAUSE they are calm, or is it the other way around? And why just the men? Are the women frazzled and poor? Or were they ALREADY calm and rich, and the men are just now catching up? And where are children in this "calm, rich" world? Elsewhere, I suspect. 

Anyway. In case you ever need to communicate the peaceful, wealthy state of a specified group of male human beings, here's how you do it:

Les hommes sont calmes et riches. 

You're welcome. 

1 comment:

AlwaysARedhead said...

Even if you were looking for a husband, I doubt asking someone if they are calm and rich would be a good pickup line, but then again...maybe I should send middle child to the Ukraine rather than South Korea. Just a passing thought.