Sunday, May 31, 2009

Parles-tu québécois?

I respond only to 'slang'!
I will never forget my grade 10 French teacher....nor my grade 9 French teacher for that matter.  In grade 9 Mrs. Hamilton felt so sorry for all of us that she stood over our shoulders during our French exams and scolded us for our mistakes.  We, of course, quickly corrected our errors and went on to pass to the next level, grade 10.
Mrs. Hamilton, however, had plans of her own.  
She retired.  
So in grade 10 we were handed over to a Welsh man who was determined to have us go it on our own.  Of course we quickly came to appreciate Mrs. Hamilton the minute he opened his mouth.  Between his thick accent and  severe direction there was little chance that I would make it through the year whether he spoke english or french!
My quest to learn a second language  seemed to fade away by October.  At years end he  failed me and reported to my mother that I was incapable of learning another language.... she's just not programmed for that I'm afraid.
So, that was the end of french class.
In grade 12  I headed off on a school organized ski trip to Switzerland. Our trip took us deep into the french-speaking parts of the country where I was  immersed in the beauty of the Alps and the melodic voices of the Swiss.  My desire to learn French was rejuvinated and I felt stronger than ever that this was something I truly wanted. 
So, upon graduation from highschool I set about to work and save money for a trip back  to Switzerland where I intended to explore and learn the french language.  Looking back on that I now realize that there were much easier ways of reaching my goal. 
At  21 I headed back with my best friend to ski the alps by day and explore language by night.....alongside  a nice fondue and wine of course!!! 
Every day I was faced with new vocabulary and expressions. 
Bit by bit it started to make sense.  
Of course I quickly realized, as I travelled between Switzerland and France, that the expressions of the culture were what readily made me feel a sense of belonging and provided me with that boost of confidence that I so missed back in grade 10.  
Going beyond my textbook and into the language of the streets I slowly began to understand the people, the culture and their language. 

So, here starts my weekly expressions post that I am calling 'Parles-tu québécois?'  Every week I will post a new expression with a rough translation of what we would say in english. 
So, here goes, my first random expression.....

Kessé tufai?

What are you doing?

BTW, my dog in the photo was adopted by us at 18 months. His previous owner did not speak english so when he arrived on our doorstep our children chose to speak to him in french and my husband and I decided to communicate with him in english.  
Of course as dogs go, they like it simple, so our list of expressions has come in handy when we are engaged in conversation with our mutt.  And with a face like that you can imagine how often we converse! 

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