Friday, February 8, 2008


I've always known that I have good French, especially considering that I didn't start studying the language until I was 15 1/2. It was no secret that I had the best written French of all the students in my B.A. program, and I think that most people would agree that I have the best written French of the students in my M.A. program. (Oral French is another story -- many of my fellow students speak French as well as, if not slightly better, than I do.) And yet I still wonder how I measure up to other non-native speakers, so when I saw some expat groups post a variety of online French tests, I had to take the bait and test them out. It was reassuring to get a perfect score on them all, as I haven't had any formal instruction in French grammar since I graduated high school at age 17.

Two other things made me feel pretty good yesterday, too, both of which happened over the course of a detailed explanation I gave of the American primary system and of school funding problems to two of my francophone friends here (in French!) The first happened during the explanation of the differences between les primaires and les caucus. One of my friends said, "I hate the word caucus. It reminds me of cocu. ... Oh, sorry, you probably haven't heard that word before."
"Actually, I have," I replied. "It's a word referring to a man who has been cheated on by his wife."
"How did you know that?!"
"Well, I have seen a couple of Georges Feydeau's plays..."
"Um... who is that? ... Oh, well, nevermind."

The second came while constructing a sentence with the subjunctive (native English speakers are notorious for having subjunctive issues). I started a sentence with, "Bien que je sache..." at which point they both interrupted me and said, "Yes!!!"

I have to admit, it felt good. Now, if only Spanish came to me as easily...

1 comment:

The Lone Beader said...

I took 2 years of French in high school, so I know a few words... Currently, I am trying to learn some Czech with Pimsleur's language CDs because I am going to Prague for 2 weeks in April. The language is difficult, but I think I am learning some words. I have been letting the CDs play all night long, and when I wake up I can understand what they are saying! Weird. :D