About a year or so ago, I decided I wanted to learn French.
What I didn’t realize is it’s not really that simple. First off, what French did I want to learn? I could learn a generic, standard French (mostly French as it’s spoken in France). I decided not to, eventually, because I figure that it’s pretty unlikely that I’ll spend much time in France. It would be nice to do the tourism thing, but I don’t think I’d want to live there. Even being a tourist is a stretch — I priced airfare, hotel, etc., etc. and said “Uh. No. At least not until I win the lottery.” Which means never, since I don’t play the lottery, and as the Ohio Lottery says in its commercials, “If you don’t play, you can’t win.” So.
Also, I write stories set in Cajun country and that’s whole different kettle of fish. (I’m sure there’s a snappy Cajun French equivalent for that — or for t’at, as the Cajuns say — but I don’t have my Cajun phrasebook handy so I don’t know what it is.) T’e t’ing is, cher, even Cajuns don’t always speak their French, so it’s not all that practical. Although I’d love to live in Acadien Louisiane some day, if only to research the book I want to write (you can read the first chapter of it here).
I do live in the northern part of the country, and could probably drive from my current location to Québec — meaning Montréal — in less than a day. So Québecois French it is. (Or, if you want to be strictly correct, Laurentian French — if you go up to Gaspé, their French is Canadian Acadian French, yet another kettle of proverbial fish.)
I have been reading, practicing, writing, Tweeting, FBing and otherwise interacting with my chosen variety of French to the best of my ability. I am slowly building a vocabulary through reading and writing and speaking. I’ve set my FB and any other software I can to French (including my MP3 player). Listening/hearing is what has come hardest for me; whenever I can, I watch mes Habs via the RDS feed, with Pierre Houde and Benoit Brunet (and yes … Joel. Did you have to remind me?) Every game, I manage to discern a word or two more. Now, if I could only ensure that when I get to Montréal I will only encounter people using hockey terms, I’ll be all set. 🙂 I also listen to Rock Détente out of Sherbrooke — an FB acquaintance of mine is the Président d’Honneur of a local charity walk and one of the other people involved is une animatrice for the station, so I picked it out for that reason. One thing that has come of listening to the station, besides hearing French words that AREN’T hockey terms, is liking some of the Quebec music. One singer I’ve come to like is Boom Desjardins, who apparently used to be with a group called “La Chicane”. I’m listening to one of his songs now — Jusqu’a Dimanche — I bought it from iTunes.
BTW, my efforts to learn French haven’t gone unnoticed by the world at large. I’ve started to get spam completely written in French, which I think is hysterical.
Éventuellement, j’espère que je vais apprendre parler Français!