When I first moved south of La Manche
(43 years ago) I did wonder if I would slowly, but subconsciously, adopt the hint of a local accent; as do so many who move to the USA, Canada, or Australia. I am pleased to say that this has not happened, nor have I grown to look too much like the chap above (although some might say otherwise).
Aged 25 my schoolboy French allowed me to insist that my Aunt's pen could be found on my Uncle's desk; but not much else. Had I wanted to employ someone to empty my septic tank, all would have been explained by gesticulation. I eventually learned to speak French by necessity; food needed to be bought, building work done, and the children educated. Never did my Aunt's pen or Uncle's desk contribute to any of that.
I now speak pretty fluent French, and there is no subject about which I cannot converse.
But a strange thing has happened; I now THINK in French. When I'm musing over some problem, or situation, in my head, it is with the help of French that the solutions are found. I don't remember when this started, but I have noticed it more and more over the past 5 to10 years.
I wonder if I'll ever start throwing my arms around in disgust when England thrash France's XV at the Stade de France......Non! Jamais, jamais, jamais.
I start to think in English since my immigration to Blogland, But my thoughts are full with mistakes as it can be seen.( I learned french in high school and I can undrestand a lot. i think.)ReplyDelete
My French is still stuck in the schoolroom though it is amazing how much vocabulary I have remembered. I was a terrible student of the language then and regret it mightily now when my halting attempts make communication difficult when on holiday. Still I try and have managed with many situations, having received kind treatment and humour from waiters and shopkeepers and even landlords. My teachers always said you must think in French and not try to translate your thoughts from English but I don't know how you manage to achieve this. To be able to speak another language would be a wonderful thing, I think.ReplyDelete
Luckily my time at school learning French was spent learning vocabulary. I found it difficult at the time to string it all together, but it came in useful later.Delete
I so envy those who can speak a different language fluently - although I can speak Yorkshire when I put my mind to it.ReplyDelete
Cro, In response to your previous post I am dragging out my copy of MM's book to find you in it....I have told a friend who is a big fan of Mary's books and she was very impressed...she thinks I am swimming in very salubrious circles.....lolReplyDelete
I only appear briefly.Delete
Full immersion in the country and the people and the way of life must truly be the way to learn a language...at school I attempted spanish , french and german.....over 45 years ago now and lost to me.... I'm only great with gibberish now!ReplyDelete
When we go to France we try very hard to speak in French with the help of phrasebooks of course. What really annoys me are English people who make no attempt and expect everyone to speak English.ReplyDelete
We know people who have lived in Spain for 8 years and speak no Spanish. A couple of years ago I went shopping with her and she just shouted in English a the butcher then turned to me with a look that suggested he was stupid for taking so long to understand her. We are determined to never visit her again.
She tells us that they moved to Spain as Britain was full of foreigners!
I know people who've lived here for over 20 years, and they make no attempt whatsoever!Delete
I think with a West Country accent.ReplyDelete
Sigh. We were taught that french people swear by saying Zut Alors, or Tant pis. Like 19th century matrons. Luckily I have better access to real French speakers these days, should I choose to utilise them. But essentially, attempting to speak french always makes me feel like such a twat.ReplyDelete
I can read some French and Spanish, but can only speak a few phrases. No matter how many years you have spent learning another language, if you don't use it, you lose it.ReplyDelete
After hurting my back skiing I was in hospital awhile, it was quite the learning experience. I couldn't understand why people kept saying "in winter" when they left the lady in the next bed. Eventually I came to realise that it was "On y va" and not "en hive".ReplyDelete
I was lucky that a neighbour (who could speak five languages) took me under her wing and helped me with conversational French. By the time we left I could manage pretty well, but now I would have to pull out some books to brush up again.
It's surprising how 'necessity' focuses the mind.Delete
Like Helsie I never made the transition to thinking in Spanish or Italian in high school or college. I can make out most words reading both and get the gist of what's being said.ReplyDelete
My favorite word from Spanish class was "albondigas" but I don't think I'll have call to order meatballs in a little Spanish restaurant!
Immersion is the answer I would think. Very insulting to expect people in other countries to understand our language with no effort to learn something of theirs.
I think in any language with difficulty.ReplyDelete
Oh la la ..it's official.You have turned into a frog. You will never be a real one unless you get the rolling of the eyes right.ReplyDelete
I'm not sure if you can learn that!
I can do it after the second bottle.Delete
A bilingual friend told me you know you are truly fluent when you dream in your second (or third) language.ReplyDelete
I minored in Spanish when in college, but didn't become fluent until I became a bilingual teacher and had to talk to students and parents who didn't speak English. I was pretty fluent, but my accent was terrible, can't roll and r to save my life.ReplyDelete
Now we live in the south and I speak southern, real slow.
As a native Spanish speaker living now in the US for over thirty years I have no accent at all in either language and am fully fluent in both. For the simple objective of minimizing the target, assimilation has always been a foremost objective. Thus some here are surprised when they learn I am not "from here". When the subject of language does come up, I am often asked if I think in Spanish or English. And I can't really say. I always took it to be that thought in itself was universal, and it is only in expression of that though, when you seek to communicate it to others, that it adopts a code in the form of a language.ReplyDelete
I suppose that I think in the form of 'conversation', so language is imperative. I imagine myself talking to someone about a problem, or desire, and because I'm HERE, It think it through in French.Delete
Interesting Cro. I have a qualification in teaching English as a second/foreign language. One of the criteria for judging how fluent and child is at the second language is when he/she begins to think in it.Delete
I lived in France my third year of university, and although I ended up conversing pretty well, I never felt I was fluent. BUT, I did start to think in French and remember writing a letter to one school chum across the Pond and apologizing saying I had to write it in French, as I was simply too tired to think in English.ReplyDelete
When I returned to the States, i'd wake up in the morning and take a minute to think what country I was in to get the right language in mind. Even then, sometimes when I was speaking, I couldn't remember the English word. I could see the sentence going along in my brain and where the English word should have been, the French one was. For quite awhile after my return, i'd ask someone what something was called in English, and more than one person wondered where I was from, as I didn't seem to speak English with a foreign accent.
That happens to me all the time Megan. Lady M has to translate back into English for me!Delete
I would think it could hardly be helped!ReplyDelete