1. You start to have really bizarre dreams, half in your language, half in the language you’re picking up. My last one involved explaining the rules of baseball in French to Chris Farley (R.I.P.) I like baseball, go to games, but it’s definitely not something I’d discuss with Chris Farley. Unless he liked the White Sox.
2. You become a pseudo-etymologist. Word origins used to lull me to sleep. Not anymore. Does “hommie” comes from the French word for man (homme)? I think it does. I think I might be a genius because of this fascinating discovery. Coupons, definitely from the French word couper for cut. And probably the most exciting moment of my life was when I learned that prom comes from se promenade, which in French means taking someone for a walk. Sure, that’s what those teenagers are doing.
3. You stalk other speakers of the language you’re learning. In Quebec, everyone speaks French all the time, so I didn’t realize how hard it would be to keep it up here. Now if I hear someone speaking French, I follow them down the street and telepathically hope they’ll turn around, lost and ask for directions. Remember that episode of Seinfeld where Frank goes into the nail salon to spy on what they’re saying about Elaine? That’s kind-of happened to me on the train and it makes all of this time and dedication worth it.
4. You hang around people you have nothing in common with just to practice. I like most of the French speakers I’ve met through MeetUp.com. But it’s not like me to wake up early on a Sunday, drive twenty miles to sit with a group of strangers, most of whom are either fresh-out-of-college francophile singles, probably looking for their l’amour or just about to retire and “summering” in Paris. It appears that all the thirty-somethings are hibernating.
There aren’t many people like me at these meetups or in the classes. I’m a person who learned French in Canada and whose highest intellectual feat is recalling specific episodes of 90210 at a pub trivia. These people went to Yale and studied mathematics (gulp), work at Microsoft, and picked up French as their fifth language just for funsies.
Summer side note:
You may wonder why I am not updating as frequently. Don’t worry. I don’t plan to go anywhere, especially not after investing $30 in a customized design. However, the truth is… I don’t have as much to say right now. Summer sunshine compels me to go outside. I’ve also been freelancing full-time, not traveling enough, and suffering from internet-exhaustion.
I promise my next post will be soon and it won’t be as Buzz Feed-like. Happy Fourth of July!
July 3, 2014 at 9:12 am
Homie, homeboy, hombre? Who knows? But I get what you mean. I love me some linguistic roots.
July 5, 2014 at 2:10 pm
I forgot about hombre. That’s a good one. I like to just make up my own linguistic roots. I didn’t make up the origin of prom though, that one is real.
July 13, 2014 at 12:36 am
I experience the same thing living in Korea stalking native Italians that can tolerate conversing with me! I ride an hour on the subway every Sunday to have lunch with a bunch of middle aged Italian men that are all working very technical jobs (aka I have nothing to add to their conversation ha) but at least it’s practice.
July 13, 2014 at 9:24 am
Nice! Stalking Italians in Korea could be the title of your autobiography.:)