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je suis sur l’autobus

maura @ 9:17 pm

What’s the prompt? Need a prompt. It’s too easy to write about today, which I’ve mostly spend (and am still spending as I type this) on a bus. A sadly wifi-free bus, which is a bummer because as we’re sitting here waiting waiting waiting to clear customs I’ve had to turn data roaming off in preparation for finishing the ride to Montreal.

So instead I will write about languages. Many of the middle schools in our part of Brooklyn don’t offer languages in the earlier grades or even at all. I can understand why–their time is limited and they do offer lots of other great stuff. But preparing for this trip and listening to folks speaking French on the bus has me thinking about whether we might want to try for some language lessons outside of school, as tiger mothery and scary as that sounds.

I love languages, though I never gained true fluency in any. I had some French as a little kid in Montessori school, then I chose French in junior high and the first 3 years of high school. The last two years of high school I took Latin, which kicked ass–so very excellent & rules based and so helpful for etymology, too. I also had a tiny bit of German in high school, maybe 1 trimester? (We had a very strange high school schedule).

In college I was determined to fulfill my language requirement with the most off-the-beaten-path choice possible, which means that 2nd year found me in the introductory Sanskrit class. It was wicked hard (oh, the extra time of transliteration) but really fun. In some ways taking Sanskrit made me take college itself more seriously–I had goofed off a bit during 1st yr and my grades weren’t great, but Sanskrit was pretty much sink or swim. It rocked.

I flirted with learning Old Irish in archaeology grad school, even bought the books! They are very handsome, we have them still. But it’s really hard and I don’t even know modern Irish and then I changed my research area so it seemed like less of a good idea.

I haven’t had any language study since then, though there are several languages that I’m fond of. Icelandic because it’s so old. Finnish and Hungarian because they’re so non-Indo-European. Japanese would be so practical, since we’d like to visit one day. Spanish is, of course, the most practical of all. It would probably be relatively easy to pick up because of the French and Latin experience of my youth, and would enable me to eavesdrop in my day to day life much more effectively.

Even though I’m far far from able to converse, it’s still amazing to me how much French I actually remember. I’m sure I’ll forget it all when it’s time to order dinner, though as long as I can say poutine I’m sure I’ll be okay.

4 comments on “je suis sur l’autobus”

Anne (17 November 2011 at 10:50 pm)

Max did Spanish on Rosetta Stone. He switched to Japanese because he’s a big manga/anime/whatever-tweeny-thing-it-is fan. Today we got Babar in Japanese from the big library. Well it doesn’t look like Babar, it just looks like an elephant, but he says it’s Babar and I don’ tknow Japanese sooooo maybe he’s right. I will peek inside and see if there’s any mention of Zephir.

Anne (17 November 2011 at 10:50 pm)

And by “mention” I mean “picture of,” such as the pictures are.

maura (20 November 2011 at 9:38 pm)

Ooh, Rosetta Stone, now there’s an idea. Gus could pick any language! Maybe we’ll try it too.

Anne (25 November 2011 at 5:58 pm)

Not the best thing ever but pretty good. I think a class is better, more opportunity, but it is handy.

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