Friday, November 13, 2009

Speak as I say, not as I does do

After six years in France, my mother tongue appears to be deserting me, while my French isn't getting any better. On the phone yesterday with my father, I stumbled over my words and fell flat on my face.

"The subject hasn't been bridged," I told him. It didn't sound quite right, so I corrected myself. "Uh, the subject hasn't been breeched, that is." I laughed and added, "What's wrong with me? I can't speak English anymore!"

"I think the word you're looking for is broached," my dad suggested gently.

I shudder when I realize that the future English language literacy of the family's next generation is in my hands.


Sylvie said...

It's the same for all of us over here. The translator at my school was stumbling the other day, too, and complaining that his mother tongue (English) was deserting him. And it's not just spoken English that suffers -- I am noticing that I can't seem to spell anymore! English words that are similar to French words are the first victims -- I keep writing "salade" for "salad" and "appartement" for "apartment". Helps!

paola said...

'I shudder when I realize that the future English language literacy of the family's next generation is in my hands' LOL!!

And as I actually 'teach' the damn thing, that of the Italian business community!

To tell you the truth, I'm not all that worried about the fate of my children's ELL. My son had the Saxon Genitive ('s)down pat before his second birthday and is now, at 4.75, using the first conditional correctly (if I go..), unlike Italians 5 times his age.

So my English stinks most of the time. But it's a small price to pay for hearing my almost 5 year old speaking better English than most Italians.

Parisienne Mais Presque said...

@Paola - Le Petit just figured out the Saxon genitive and proved it to me by saying "That's Uncle T's moto!" to me the other day.

I guess I figure that as long as he reads in English and therefore has some varied vocabulary, correct usage and solid literary style in his head as a reference, he'll be OK. But still, I could do better myself... :)

@Sylvie - oh, yes, the number of times I've tried to put an extra P in apartment. *sigh*

caramama said...

If it makes you feel better, there are a lot of native english speakers here in the US who wouldn't have come up with the word broached. ;-)

I wonder how much of it is also because you are the parent of a small child. I started to going to a book club recently, and when I got home I told my husband that part of why I had such a good time was that the used big words--some of which I had forgotten existed!

caramama said...

p.s. I got such a kick out of your title.

Nickname unavailable said...

Si je puis vous donner un conseil, c'est de continuer d'écrire dans votre langue maternelle, comme vous le faites si bien en ce moment:-)
Une Française dans le Rhode Island depuis 25 ans.

Parisienne Mais Presque said...

@Rhode Island - je ne sais pas quoi dire, sauf merci ! Glad you enjoy, and thank you so much for reading...

Acai said...