Saturday, 17 March 2007

Pardon my French

Once more, last night, a French person asked me where I was from as I was speaking French to them.... French is my native language, the language I grew up with until I was 14 years old. Then we moved to Canada (the English side, thank God... or I would have ended up with the comical Quebecois accent... which I learned to imitate to impress people at parties.) Even though I went to a bilingual high school, and although I spoke French with my parents, my French quickly deteriorated: I acquired a French-as-a-second-language accent, and started making a lot of anglicisms. Seven years in London definitely did not help.

I'm slowly reaching the point where I will have spent more time in English-speaking countries than in France. When I arrived in London, people thought I was American, but when I go to North America, people think I'm English. But no one ever thinks I'm French.

When I speak French with French people, they are amazed at how well I speak French: "Wow! How come you speak French so well? It's amazing! Where did you learn it?"

I was talking about this with Olga, who has the exact same problem. We realized that from the several languages that we each speak, there isn't even one that we speak like a native, not even our own mothertongue! It did make us pretty sad. What does it mean, not to be able to speak your own language? Is it like being apatrid? Does it mean that you're not from anywhere? That you don't belong anywhere? That you're not part of anything? Is it a direct translation of the fact that we're not at home anywhere? This is part of a process: once you realize and accept that you are a Citizen of the World, things become easier. To quote my friend Margareth: "Let's just be international!".

2 comments:

Andre said...

this reminds me of a story my friend Laurent told me.
He was smiling at the way his grand-mother was speaking (she's from germany and lived in israel).
So she said: "you're laughing at my accent! but your grand-children they'll be laughing at your accent too!"

Miss Worldwide said...

hahaha! it's so true though... and so Jewish! each generation in another country...