Friday, April 03, 2009

Je suis très contente!

I am very pleased.

I just had my french lesson. For the first time, I spoke to JZ almost entirely in French. Of course, in basic french with sentence structure mistakes but if you knew me about a month ago, I just couldn't do it. I was struggling terribly in AF!

AF was extremely tough for me. If you think English grammar is bad, French grammar is SIX times worse, or some may go as far as claiming SIXTY times worse. If you don't believe me, take a look at this.

AF provided good training ground though because I'm pretty confident in general reading and writing simply. Its similar to learning the rules of a game. That doesn't mean I was keeping up with the class. A lot of those times in fact, I felt I wasn't learning anything at all. It was frustrating. When you had classes everyday, you had to keep up somehow by manipulating and keeping within the boundaries to survive.

I did do my study. I wasn't terribly hardworking but I must say I did put in a reasonable amount of effort.

However, learning language is not 'linear'. Meaning, it doesn't mean you put in two hours of effort you'll get the equivalent two hours of results. I can see why the French hate their own grammar in school when growing up.

As I told my Pascal-AF friends, I was waiting for it to all "click". (Though, I'm sure you guys, who are Intermediate now are faaar ahead - now don't you rattle off in your intermediate French to me when I'm back. Mon Dieu! Even L started a french blog!)

Before January this year, the only french word I knew was "Bonjour" and that I learnt that in Beauty and the Beast Disney musical-movie when I was probably 10 years old. And a couple of terms in ballet class. I wasn't one of those who learns basic french words and splatter them all in conversations or blog. No doubt, they'll probably be better than me in French class!

I had to re-learn grammar rules, spelling, pronunciation, reading, hearing, exceptions - gosh it was a lot of effort! I wasn't accustomed to hearing my name Eunice pronounced in the french way. Now when JZ calls me, "Euer-nis" my head turns naturally.

Learning a new language is literally like dumping everything you know and re-learning again. I start to appreciate the English language much more than I ever before and even my supposed mother tongue, Mandarin. I would translate the same sentence in all three languages and smile at the different grammatical structure. I've always taken English for granted and now I've acquired a new love for it. I intend to buy an English grammar book, say maybe when I return to Singapore. (And can you believe I majored in English Grammar in my masters communication course? I just couldn't be bothered to be really strict with myself or remember what I learn.)

It's fascinating really. There is a lot of culture embedded into language. Many phrases we use are actually expressions, and cannot be translated.

For instance, "I'm looking forward to it!". You simply cannot translate it literally.

And if you are really happy, you shouldn't say "I'm very happy!"(referring to a literal translation in french) because it sounds a bit desperate and over-exaggerated. So its "prettier" (as JZ says) to say "Je suis très contente!". Or ma mère is a tad vulgar than maman, which refers to your mother.

I remember Pascal mentioning a few similar things like "What is your profession?" etc. Usually French people AREN'T direct. It isn't polite.

And oh my gosh, I'm still working on the accented alphabet. I always get confused!

....

So that's why I feel terribly pleased with myself, excusez-moi, if I may.

Have a great day folks. :)