Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I Don't Really Blog...

I'm still miffed about this.

A month ago, someone pointed out that my Facebook page indicated that I "know" French, and insisted after I didn't pass a "test" he gave me (translating a sentence involving a couple of different future tenses into French) that "Americans can't speak French" and "It always surprises me to see the difference between what people say they know and what they actually know." 

Something I noticed after I had a heated exchange with him (since which I've avoided him and haven't heard from him, either) is that if you follow the prompts in your Facebook profile which ask, "Which languages do you speak?", Facebook then lists them as "languages you know" on your profile.  So he and I may be arguing semantics.  But I still think it was a rude thing for him to say, and pattently untrue. 

I learned French in high school.  That's about it.   After high school I determined that I was not going to be one of those people who said, "Well, I took four years of French but all I remember is how to say 'Let's go to the beach'."   So I practice.  A lot.  There have been years during which I practiced pretty much daily; there have been few years, if any, that I didn't read French books or magazines or watched French television shows.  In the last couple of years, having noticed some of the gaps in my ability to speak fluently when I'm in France, I have been focusing on actual educational aids:  an advanced grammar book of exercises and the French page, which has a quiz you can take every day. 

I don't speak or read French because I think I'm cool or smarter than anyone; I do it because I think it's fun to learn languages.  And I would never pose as a teacher of French or a professional translator (although I have been able to help in a pinch in my department at work, a major teaching hospital, if a francophone comes in and there's a delay in the real French translator arriving).  I have thought about a goal of being able to teach, but I know I'm not there yet.

Still, hearing someone that (up until then) I respected pretty much diss my French is so infuriating for me.  I  goofed (at a time when I had just woken up, incidentally, without looking up the grammar points because I didn't want to cheat) on a relatively complicated translation.  Does that mean I don't know French at all? Is being a French speaker like being pregnant, either you are or you aren't?

No comments :