Old dog, new trick...sigh!

Monday, September 12, 2005

The travails of learning a language when you are way beyond the age to be receptive to learn anything new is best understood by going through it personally. And that is the way am getting to know. And if the language you choose to learn is french, then tighten ur seat belts n get ready, for its going to be a hell of a ride. That was a bit of exaggeration :D (n i never tire of apologising for them!).

The best thing about english is that one learns to look at every non-human as a thing, with no gender. 'No sex please, we are british' - so they said and neutered every bit of gender information of the language. So we have it is a dog, it is a cat kind of lingo. But the trouble arises when in a fit of sadomasochism, we enroll into a language class. Sounds cool at first sight. One never stops learning, u know what i mean.

So the teacher goes "in french, every noun has a gender". Oh WTF! why so? Because that is the way the language is meant to be. Every thing is masculine or feminine. It is not so much about a noun having the qualities associated with the gender. It is just one of the qualities of the noun like any other. I am already tempered by my experience learning the German language. The fun of learning the German language is described by a much more capable person, Mark Twain. Do read his essay called "The awful german language", if and when you have spare time. Atleast there is one less gender to contend with in French and that is some relief to me. But to the person nescient of tricks of modern languages, this comes out of the blue and starts questioning their faith in God. try remembering that the "book" is masculine in french and neutral in german and is bloody lifeless in english. And there are thousands of commonly used nouns in these languages!

Funnily, i have to "demand" to request for something in french and the difference in pronouncing poison and poisson can make the difference between life and death. The verb for requesting or asking is demander in french and always confuses us when it crops up in a sentence. Poisson is fish in french and poison the same as in english. This is another grouse against the french/english language. Why do words etymologically from the same root have to mean differently in each language??? Atleast in german, most words similar to english have meanings close to their english counterparts.

I am already in the 3rd week of learning french but i started this piece when i had barely started. So I ll stop my cribbing at this stage and reserve my right to publish again after delving deeper into the language.

1 comments:

Praveen G K 9:07 PM, September 29, 2005  

You got to live with this if you have made the decision...I still remember the German language learning model (GLLM) sessions:-))).....jargan sie bitte....does it ring a bell...!!!!

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