J'aime la langue francaise - mais mon francais est très mal. I know english pretty well - I shouldn't know it too well or I'll lose my exotic bonus. When I've been in Massachusetts a long while ago I asked my friend Ed Morgan there, whether he thinks, Americans will regognize me at once by my pronounciation as an foreigner or even German. He said: "They wouldn't think that you're a stranger, they would just think you talk funny & so seem a bit odd to them" - That was not so nice to hear. I think it's better, they recognize you as a foreigner, than thinking about you, that you're just a 'nuts' person. - So I used that little trick, that if I met someone knew, I made my english in the beginning worse than I'd be able to speak & genuisly asked in one of my first sentences about a word "what's that in English" - so they knew at once, I'm European - that taught them! I noticed, that more in the 'Hinterland' (what's that in English?) - I mean deep in the country, foreigners were very seldom, so people didn't expect them to be there.
USA, the big melting pool of all nations is on the other hand much less influenced or in contact to other nations than us little European countries - here in Germany for example are at least 10 percent from other countries & you hear at every corner different pronounciation, better or worse of German language - so it's quite normal, if people talk funny & you try just to guess from which country they're from.
What my friend Ed had told may not have been the total truth. I remember when I've been in a nightbar in Springfield, the waitress just by my few words of ordering, knew even from which country I came from, because she answered me when I paid her in German "Danke" & also in a small nice coffee house, that I frequently visited, book reading while drinking my coffee, the nice red haired waitress (the one I liked so much, but was too shy & unsure in englis to talk closer with her) , said something in German to me (may "Auf Wiedersehen" (good bye)) & no - the books I was reading there, wasn't German, because my visit to MA was the start of my english books reading career.
Uhm, I lost my path - I started this entry, talking about my love to french language - Massachusetts is not Paris - so back to the theme.
Since I got my new DVB-T box receiver for TV I got 2 senders that are partly in french - like 'arte' a french-german co-production - Sometimes it's all spoken in French, with German undertitles. I just had seen a report about a french theater regisseur & parts of his play were shown - the good thing is, that in theater the actors speak so clear & understandable & then you see also the translation in German written under it - that's splendid & I hope will improve my french knowledge more & more - I never learned french in school but had much later on 3 semesters in french in an evening school - I hardly can make conversation in french, but at least if I read a french text in most cases I understand what's it about & I know how to pronounciate it already. But listening to spoken french is really hard - I only get few fragments & lose the context & meaning totally. - Couldn't they speak much more slower & not join all the words of a sentence to one only syllable? - I mean like theatre actors talk & please with undertitles!
Why did I stop learning french after only 3 semesters - I think there is time left to tell:
the 2 first semesters were fine - we had a French-Jewish teacher 'Rachel' who lives (still?) here in Nürnberg (I knew her & her husband slightly from long before, when they had visited us in our once country community with goats & chickens etc.) - her lessons were very fine, but unfortunately after 2 semesters there weren't enough of us evening students left to continue with her to a new semester. So I had to choose another french course, where enough students were enlisted to make it work - the new teacher was a French from Paris - he was not bad, but he somehow liked the power he had over us 'student's - he liked to treat us adults sometimes like little school boys - I remember we had a writer (author) in our class, who left in the middle of that semester & I knew at once why, - he was a person with a certain dignity & couldn't stand it to be blamed in front of the class because of lack of some french grammar expression.. OK - I even started the 4th semester with the same teacher (there was no other available) - It's not so easy to steal my dignity, because I have my ways to keep mine. But in the fourth semester there were only 2 of us from the former semester left, but there came a lot of new students - students who had all had in school 3, 4 or 5 years french before & just wanted to refresh their french. Our stupid ignorant french teacher who apparently didn't know anything about to didactic - his only qualifying was probably his french-dom - he continued the lessons not on what should have been continuing to semester 3, but resembled the lessons at once to the niveau of the new students majority, who could already speak almost fluently french. Me & my one compagnon from before, couldn't hardly follow anymore - so after the second frustrating evening I quit.
When Napoleon had conquered Germany once, he had also installed a lot of his new government, administration & social system. But even as he later on got defeated by the Russian, Prussian, British & Austrian forces. Some of his reformations survived & also a hand full of french words had entered the German language, some of these people here don't even know, they're french origin. - Let me think how many of them I can remember: There is Gendarm (policeman), Chaussee (street), Pissoir, Trottoire (where pedestrians walk on the street), Portemonnaie (money bag), Ade (good bye) comes from 'á Dieu', Cretin (Ignorant) - Esprit - Gourmet - Bonbon (means good good - was there ever a German word for it?) - vis-a-vis (in front of you), dejá vue (already seen), pommes frittes (what the americans call french fries - remember the Kindergarten-play when some so-called-politicians of republic USA refused to call them french fries anymore, because France, Germany & Russia didn't join the Irak war adventure), Alarm (you know that alarm comes from french & means á l'armes - 'to the weapons'?) - Menagerie (something from circus) - soufleuse (the one who whispers in the theater hidden to the audience to actors who may have forgotten their texts)...there's much more - I just can't quite remember..
I only have 2 french books in french here except of my french-german dictionary & my 2 french learning books from evening school.
One is 'Le petit Prince' by Sainte Exupery. In the moment I can't finde it but liked to use it to learn on. The other is "Les fleures du mal" by Charles Baudelaire. I have the collected works of Baudelaire also here in German. But in poetry the origin of course is the much better choise - at least if you're able to understand. Of this french original version I even once learned one of the poems - my idea then was to learn them all & by that get perfect in francais (probably a very old fashioned french, but at least lyrical) - Of this poem I still remember only a view lines - should I recite them? -
The title was 'Invitation au voyage' - it started with 'Mon enfant, mon soeur, songe a la douceur, d'aller la bas vivre ensemble..'
hmm some lines later ..'le soleil mouillant .. de ce ciel broullant.,
si mysterieux de tes traitres yieux (?) brillant à travers leur larmes. '
& then the refrain that was repeated after each of the 3 verses:
'la tout ne q'ordre et beaute, luxe calme et volupte'
'mirroir profondes.. les meubles luisante polis par les ans ..
toutes y parlerait à'l'ame en secret son douce langue natal'
& of the third verse I can't remember a line - it was something about ships on a 'Gracht' - ships to bring unexspeakable (this word doesn't exist) to the beloved - some words about sun & world..
Oohm sorry folks - I have to quit this entry & have to re-read this poem again & may learn it again.