EX­CUSE MY FRENCH

EA­GER TO GET LOST IN TRANS­LA­TION, IN­FORMER IS MINDING HIS LAN­GUAGE AS HE WRAPS HIS TONGUE AROUND THE MOST BEAU­TI­FUL OF THEM ALL

Fraser Coast Chronicle - - WEEKEND - WORDS: MICHAEL JACOBSON

Bon­jour, mon nom est In­former et j’ai quelques nou­velles pour vous tous. Or in English … good morn­ing, my name is In­former and I have some news for you all.

That’s right, I’m learn­ing Man­darin. No wait, French. Classes start soon and by the end of 2019 I’ll be speak­ing frankly Frenchly enough to en­gage ef­fort­lessly with the lo­cals when Les In­form­ers ar­rive in Paris for a hol­i­day. I’ve been keen to learn French for le yonks, although I’m fas­ci­nated by all lan­guages, even those that sound like you’re be­ing coughed on, yelled at or try­ing to find the right fre­quency on a short-wave ra­dio. Lan­guage, as Bar­bra Streisand once sang, is the way we word.

French is the most beau­ti­ful lan­guage, I think, be­cause it makes even the nas­ti­est things sound gor­geous. This is in di­rect con­trast to neigh­bour­ing Ger­man, which does pre­cisely the op­po­site.

I’ve vis­ited France a few times and seem to have an aptitude for la lingo. Ar­rang­ing ho­tels and trans­port (le room, le vroom), or­der­ing food and drink (la nosh, le slosh), ne­go­ti­at­ing the tourist spots (la Eif­fel), the Moulin Rouge (les eye­ful), the Lou­vre (la art­ful) and French restau­rants (le of­fal) are all a le dod­dle.

My stud­ies will hone these con­ver­sa­tional skills through greet­ings, di­rec­tions, com­mon phrases and prac­ti­cal­i­ties like the time, days of the week, months of the year and ev­ery colour ex­cept green, which is con­ser­va­tional rather than con­ver­sa­tional.

I will then grad­u­ate, hope­fully, to a higher “le vel” al­low­ing me to broach more com­plex con­cepts avec my French hosts, a la: Why is French pop mu­sic so dread­ful? What is Mar­ion Cotil­lard’s phone num­ber? Is that a croque mon­sieur in your pocket or are you just pleased to see Mrs In­former?

Re­gard­ing our hol­i­day, the In­form­ers will be based in Paris and I’m sure will lend the place a cer­tain “je ne c’est quois”, which trans­lates to “I don’t know what”. That’s what I love about French. It per­fectly de­scribes even the stuff it doesn’t know. In fact, that’s what I love about lan­guage over­all, be­cause it means one is never lost for words.

I don’t be­lieve it’s go­ing too far to sug­gest that lan­guage is the pin­na­cle of hu­man achieve­ment. Noth­ing we’ve done could have been pos­si­ble with­out it. Mind you, In­former can’t help wor­ry­ing as more and more lovely, lively as­pects of lan­guage are re­placed by soul­less, fee­ble jar­gon that serves only to make our world less worldly. I’m baf­fled as to why some would en­cour­age us to be­come less ex­otic, less imag­i­na­tive, less real and, iron­i­cally, hardly worth talk­ing about.

As I’ve men­tioned many times in this rec­tan­gle, it would be a bet­ter and wiser world if peo­ple sim­ply gave more thought to what they say be­fore say­ing what they think. Free­dom of speech is a priv­i­lege, but such free­dom is not with­out re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Very kind peo­ple have oc­ca­sion­ally said that In­former has a way with words. Well, I’ll soon be hav­ing my way with some­one else’s words and I can’t wait.

Ac­cord­ingly, I apol­o­gise to the French for ini­tial clum­si­ness as I wrap my tongue around theirs, but as they them­selves say, nous avons tous nos crois­sants à sup­porter. That is, we all have our crois­sants to bear.

Un­til next week, ar­rived­erci.

“I’VE VIS­ITED FRANCE A FEW TIMES AND SEEM TO HAVE AN APTITUDE FOR LA LINGO.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.