Sunday, October 5, 2014

31 Days - Day 5 - French

"Whene'er I hear French spoken as I approve,
I feel myself quietly falling in love."

Edward Robert Bulwer Lytton, Earl of Lytton

I was born in Quebec City, Quebec.  I was raised in a series of small towns such as Sept-Iles and Loretteville and Ste. Foy and Montreal and Lac Beauport.  By the time I was in my teens, the French language was part of me.  I easily flipped from English to French, and sometimes found myself switching to French more readily than English, because what I was trying to express just worked better in French.

I left Quebec at the tender age of 17.  Married at 18, and immersed in the culture and practices of Ontario, I left French behind.  Yet, once a language has gripped your soul, you can't forget it.

"Unhappy lovers always should be Frenchmen, 
So sweet a tongue for any kind of pain!"
 ~Christopher Morley

A friend of mine phoned me a few months ago, saying "Do you want to go to Paris and Rome?"  

Are you kidding me?  Paris and Rome for $1200?  Three nights in Paris, three nights in Rome?  A dream come true!

I told Jane that she has to learn Italian.  After all, her maternal grandfather's name was Giovanni Marcantonio.   You can't get more Italian than that!  I made a bargain with her.  She can speak Italian, and I'll speak French.  I've been brushing up on my French, using Duolingo to learn vocabulary and grammar, and I'm using YouTube videos to listen to the spoken language.  I've been perusing grammar and reading books.  It's amazing how much French I've retained after being away from Quebec for over forty years.

I love the language, and I love the French people.  Here's a few quotes from John Bartlett's Familiar Quotations:

The French are emotional:

There is an old French air,
A little song of loneliness and grief --
Simple as nature, sweet beyond compare --
And sad -- past all belief.  
~George Louis Palmella Busson Du Maurier

The French are practical:

The Frenchman, like the old Scotch golfer, endeavours to do what there is to be done without superfluous weapons or fancy gestures.  He sits down, ties his napkin behind his ears, picks up a knife and fork and goes to work with admirable directness.   He dunks his bread in the juice of the snail, he chases fragments of steak and gravy with a piece of crust, he licks his fingers , says "Ah!' and gets fed. ~Westbrook Pegler

The French like to chat:

A Frenchman must be always talking, whether he knows anything of the matter or not; an Englishman is content to say nothing, when he has nothing to say.  ~Samuel Johnson

I can't wait to visit Paris.

Oh, London is a man's town, 
there's power in the air;
And Paris is a woman's town, 
with flowers in her hair.
~Henry Van Dyke

How about you?  Do you like the French language?  Is it music to your ears?  Have you ever tried using Duolingo, a free online program for learning various languages?  Have you ever been to Paris?

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