I love languages. I started learning french in about grade 5 and I continued with it throughout university. While far from being fluent even when I was in the middle of my degree and having probably forgotten more than I can remember I think I can still understand quite a lot.
In Toronto we were taught francais standard which from what I understand is closer to Parisian french than to Quebecois french. There is a large french population where I live. The french spoken here is not the same music to my ears that the french I was taught is. I know that it makes so much more sense to teach the french that is spoken in Canada in Canada, but that didn’t happen. When I think of french I do not think of the local twangy accent I think of the melodic, lyrical french of high school and my European proffesors.
In 1984 I did an Ulpan on a kibbutz in Israel for 6 months. There was a volunteer on the kibbutz who made all of our hearts pitter patter. He was from France and his accent turned our knees to jelly. While we were receiving care parcels of peanut butter he was getting cheese sent to him. Ahh, cheese. French cheese. Could anything be more romantic? He told my girlfriend that she murdered his language beautifully. It sounded like a compliment when he said it. He could say anything and it sounded like a compliment. I learned the nastiest swear in french and it sounds so pretty.
So many years have passed since then and so many things have changed but the beauty of the french language remains the same. I’m one of the many things that have changed. I see the ravages of time and children all over my body. I’m fine with that, you can’t live without there being visual reminders of your life on your body. O.K., so I’m not so crazy about what gravity is doing and wrinkles, well, wrinkles are just a personal insult.
This brings me back to french. I remember reading a short story in french and the expression “un nid de (des?) rides” was used. A nest of wrinkles. It meant nothing to me at the time and yet somehow that expression became lodged in the back of my mind only to sally forth now. But really, how pretty does that sound? It might be worse than crows’ feet but it sure sounds nicer. At the risk of sounding affected I think that I am going to refer to all of my aging parts in french, just please don’t tell me that you speak french.