Tag Archives: 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, and Malayalam my mother tongue. 凭空想像我都不会流利的北印度语,,en,但我可以说得足够好,以免除上门推销员,,en,例如,,en,这正是我父亲,,en,经证实的印地语恐惧症,,en,要求我在一次探访回家时做,,en,会说印地语的纱丽推销员在我们的前廊上徘徊,,en,到那个时候,,en,我在美国呆了六年多,,en,认为我的英语很好,,en,在法国呆了几年,,en,足以知道,,en,英文很好,,en,没什么大不了的,,en,因此要摆脱莎丽·瓦拉,,en,我开始在印地语中跟他说话,,en,最奇怪的事情发生了,,en,这就是全部,,en,与法语相关的帖子,,en,那出来了,,en,不是我的母语,,en,不是我的第二语言或第三语言,,en,但是法国人,,en,简而言之,,en,那天有一个非常困惑的纱丽推销员在街上漫游,,en,真正,,en, but I could speak it well enough to get rid of a door-to-door salesman, for instance.

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 French that was coming out. Not my mother tongue, not my second or third language, but French! In short, there was very confused sari salesman roaming the streets that day.

True, 印地语和法语之间有些相似之处,,en,在疑问词的声音中,,en,以及中性对象的愚蠢的男性和女性性别,,en,但我不认为这是导致法国性泛滥的原因,,en,感觉好像法国人取代了我脑中的印地语,,en,我的任何脑细胞连接起来说北印度语,,en,严重地,,en,我可能会添加,,en,被重新布线为法国,,en,一些奇怪的资源分配机制是在我不知情或未经同意的情况下回收我的脑细胞,,en,我认为法国人对我脑部的入侵仍在继续,并吸收了我的大部分英语细胞,,en,最终结果是我的英语全都搞砸了,,en,我的法语永远都不够好,,en,我为自己困惑的脑细胞感到难过,,en,业力,,en,我猜,,en, for instance, 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. Karma, I guess — 我不应该混淆莎丽推销员,,en,虽然开玩笑地说,,en,我认为我说的是真的,,en,您说的语言占据了大脑的不同部分,,en,我的一个朋友是一个毕业年份的法裔美国女孩,,en,她的美语没有明显的口音,,en,一旦她在法国拜访我,,en,我发现只要她说法语时使用英语单词,,en,她有明显的法国口音,,en,好像英语单词来自她的大脑法语部分,,en,当然,,en,语言可以成为广告素材的工具,,en,我在法国的同事是个精明的英语专家,他坚决拒绝学习任何法语,,en,并积极抵制任何法国同化的迹象,,en,如果他能帮上忙,他从未说过法语,,en,但是之后,,en.

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.

Of course, 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. But then, 一个夏天,,en,两名英语实习生出现,,en,我的室友被要求指导他们,,en,当这两个女孩来我们办公室见他时,,en,这个家伙突然变成双语,开始说类似,,en,我们在这里做什么,,fr,哦,,en,抱歉,,en,我忘了你不会说法语,,en,通讯,,en,印地语,,en,心情,,fr,语言,,en,为人父母,,en,艰难爱情的另一笔故事,,en,有一次我最喜欢的叔叔给我一支笔,,en,那个叔叔当时是印度军队的一名士兵,,en,士兵们每年大约要回家几个月,,en,并给大家庭中的每个人礼物,,en,整个事情都有一种权利感,,en,送礼者从没想到他们也许也可以还一些东西,,en,在过去的几十年中,,en,事情变了,,en, 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.. Oh, sorry, I forgot that you didn’t speak French!”

Belle Piece

Here is a French joke that is funny only in French. I present it here as a puzzle to my English-speaking readers.

This colonel in the French army was in the restroom. As he was midway through the business of relieving his bladder, he becomes aware of this tall general standing next to him, and realizes that it is none other than Charles De Gaulle. Now, what do you do when you find yourself a sort of captive audience next to your big boss for a couple of minutes? Well, you have to make smalltalk. So this colonel racks his brain for a suitable subject. Noticing that the restroom is a classy tip-top joint, he ventures:

Belle piece!” (“Nice room!”)

CDG’s ice-cold tone indicates to him the enormity of the professional error he has just committed:

Regardez devant vous.” (“Don’t peek!”)

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. One day, 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, “Well, 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!”