Wednesday, November 15, 2006

english as a second language

I'm no linguist. I'm just a guy with a couple of drinks in him. Something that I believe is that, were I to move to England, I could easily learn English, but for now, I suppose what I speak can best be described as American. Another post for another time might be about the question posed to me some time ago by a Mexican coworker. He wondered why we in the US refer to ourselves as American when there are in fact a couple of other Americas that we sort of preclude from that designation.

So my point here gets back, hat tip style I suppose, to the book I mentioned in a different post. I'm reading An Omelette and a Glass of Wine, written by English food writer Elizabeth David. The problem I'm having is one I've also had with Julia Child with her definite French leanings. I should point out here that I have a huge crush on Julia.

I'm sure my attempts at pronouncing French sound really funny if I were trying to say them to a French person. Lucky for me they usually stay in my head, but that's where the problem comes in. When you are geek about reading random food related stuff, you find often that you're reading about French food of one kind or another as well as about French other stuff.

Sometimes I just get stumped by a word, and I end up with a snooty French man inside my head pronouncing the words in a variety of ways. I can run through a few words that seem to make a certain sense in my head, and suddenly, out of nowhere comes the hard one. I'm not pretending I get all the words right, but I get them right enough in my brain till the one word shows up. My brain beats at it every which way, but my complete lack of any real knowledge of the language cuts through all my confidence from earlier. And that little snooty French man starts saying the word in a very stereotypical French way, laughing AT and not WITH, at which point I'm doomed to stay stuck on this word until I put the book down and walk away for a while.

For what it's worth, I'm cool with the French. I have nothing against them really. They seem to have a nice enough place over there in Europe. Maybe one day, when mother powerball bestows her wealth on me, I'll take a trip out there and have some of their food. I hear it's good. Hell, I might even learn the language finally.

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