标记档案: humeur

Languages

Before leaving India in the late eighties, I could speak a bit of Hindi as my third language. English was the second language, 和 马拉雅拉姆语 my mother tongue. I wasn’t fluent in Hindi by any stretch of imagination, but I could speak it well enough to get rid of a door-to-door salesman, 例如.

This is exactly what my father (a confirmed Hindi-phobe) asked me to do during one of my visits home when a persistent, Hindi-speaking sari salesman was hovering over our front porch. By that time, I had spent over six years in the US (and considered my English very good) and a couple of years in France (enough to know that “very good English” was no big deal). So to get rid of the sari-wala, I started to talk to him in Hindi, and the strangest thing happened — it was all 法国人 that was coming out. Not my mother tongue, not my second or third language, but French! 简而言之, there was very confused sari salesman roaming the streets that day.

真, there is some similarity between Hindi and French, 例如, in the sounds of interrogative words, and the silly masculine-feminine genders of neutral objects. But I don’t think that was what was causing the outpouring of Frenchness. It felt as though French had replaced Hindi in my brain. Whatever brain cells of mine that were wired up to speak Hindi (badly, I might add) were being rewired a la franciaise! Some strange resource allocation mechanism was recycling my brain cells without my knowledge or consent. I think this French invasion in my brain continued unabated and assimilated a chunk of my English cells as well. The end result was that my English got all messed up, and my French never got good enough. I do feel a bit sorry for my confused brain cells. 噶, 我猜 — I shouldn’t have confused the sari salesman.

Though spoken in jest, I think what I said is true — the languages that you speak occupy distinct sections of your brain. A friend of mine is a French-American girl from the graduate years. She has no discernable accent in her Americanese. Once she visited me in France, and I found that whenever she used an English word while speaking French, she had a distinct French accent. It was as though the English words came out of the French section of her brain.

当然, languages can be a tool in the hands of the creative. My officemate in France was a smart English chap who steadfastly refused to learn any French at all, and actively resisted any signs of French assimilation. He never uttered a French word if he could help it. 但随后, one summer, two English interns showed up. My officemate was asked to mentor them. When these two girls came to our office to meet him, this guy suddenly turned bilingual and started saying something like, “Ce qu’on fait ici.. 哦, 遗憾, I forgot that you didn’t speak French!”

百丽件

这里是法国的笑话,只有在法国很有趣. 我在这里提出它作为一个难题我的英语为母语的读者.

这位上校在法国军队是在洗手间. 因为他是通过减轻他的膀胱的中间业务, 他察觉这个高大一般站在他旁边, 并意识到它不是别人,正是戴高乐. 现在, 什么时候你发现自己一种俘虏观众的你旁边的大老板一两分钟的? 好, 你必须做出的Smalltalk. So this colonel racks his brain for a suitable subject. 注意到,厕所是一个优雅的尖顶部关节, 他冒险:

“百丽件!” (“漂亮的房间!”)

CDG的冰冷的语气表明他,他刚刚犯下的错误专业的艰巨性:

“向前看。” (“不要偷看!”)

La pauvre famille

[English version below]

Je connaissais une petite fille très riche. Un jour, son professeur lui a demandé de faire une rédaction sur une famille pauvre. La fille était étonnée:

“Une famille pauvre?! Qu’est-ce que c’est ça?”

Elle a demandé à sa mère:

“Maman, Maman, qu’est-ce que c’est une famille pauvre? Je n’arrive pas à faire ma rédaction.”

La mère lui a répondu:

“C’est simple, chérie. Une famille est pauvre quand tout le monde dans la famille est pauvre”

La petite fille a pensé:

“Ah! Ce n’est pas difficile”

et elle a fait sa rédaction. Le lendemain, le professeur lui a dit:

“Bon, lis-moi ta rédaction.”

Voici la réponse:

“Une famille pauvre. Il était une fois une famille pauvre. Le père était pauvre, la mère était pauvre, les enfants étaient pauvres, le jardinier était pauvre, le chauffeur était pauvre, les bonnes étaient pauvres. Voilà, la famille était très pauvre!”

In English

I once knew a rich girl. 一天, her teacher at school asked her to write a piece on a poor family. The girl was shocked. “What in the world is a poor family?”

So she asked her mother, “Mummy, mummy, you’ve got to help me with my composition. What is a poor family?”

Her mother said, “That’s really simple, sweetheart. A family is poor when everybody in the family is poor.”

The rich girl thought, “Aha, that is not too difficult,” and she wrote up a piece.

The next day, her teacher asked her, “好, let’s hear your composition.”

Here is what the girl said, “A Poor Family. Once upon a time, there was a poor family. The father was poor, the mother was poor, the children were poor, the gardener was poor, the driver was poor, the maids were poor. So the family was very poor!”