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Autobiographie Linguistique

Written By: cestmerveilleux on November 4, 2007 No Comment

When I was 13 years old, the only thing that I wanted to do with my life was to become a ballerina. I considered myself a devotee of the pas de bourrée, the pirouette, the rond de jambe, and at that age I couldn’t see myself doing anything else in the future besides dancing on a wooden stage in front of an audience of hundreds. That is why, at the tender age of 13, I made the decision to enroll in French class at my middle school, because I knew that being able to speak the “universal language of ballet” would bring me one step closer to my ultimate dream.
Since making that decision, I am still a student of the French language though my motivations for continuing my studies have changed significantly. I no longer sport a pink tutu every other day of the week; in fact, I have traded my desire to become a ballerina for my new desire of becoming a competitive belly dancer. Not to say that learning French in any way detracted from my overall ballet-dancing experience. In fact, I was able to enter my dance studio with a new form of confidence, knowing that I, as a disciple of French, possessed a more viable connection to les petites danseuses in the painting’s of Degas than any of my other comrades. I, who knew that en tournante meant “while turning” and that demi-plié referenced a half-bend of the knees.
Now, I use my knowledge of the French language to interject ordinary conversations with little exclamations like, “C’est super chouette, ça!” or “Quel horreur!” I don’t make exclamations like this only whilst in the presence of fellow French-speakers, mind you. Even people who don’t speak French have a certain appreciation for the way in which French speakers tend to overemphasize their emotions in their pronunciation of words. In addition to using French to add some spice to ordinary conversation, I also use it to speak to my boyfriend, whose father is a native Parisian. I enjoy being able to answer his phone calls by proclaiming, in an exaggerated French accent, “Bonjour, cheriiii. Comment ça va?” to which he responds, in a perfect French accent, “Ah bon, et toi, ma chère?” As French is the uncontested langue de l’amour, we also break into French dialect whenever we have something particularly mushy to say to one another. “Ah, ma petite fleur, tu es si jolie ce soir,” is one that I received recently. I then responded with, “Oh cheri! Je pense que tu es mignon toujours!!” We also use French to fantasize about one day living in Paris, which is a goal that both of us wish to achieve. We speak lovingly of crêpes, of Baudelaire, of le quartier Latin, of la belle Seine, and of my favorite French thing, la tartine. But mostly we speak French just to connect with each other on a deeper level, to convey our emotions to one another in a language that is exclusive to just us in most social situations. We’re that couple, the ones who can be found at any given frat party figuring out our plans for the night en français so as not to offend anyone as we comment on how lame the party actually is. Speaking French allows us the opportunity to fantasize about the future but also to hold on to the future, to carve out a small linguistic space in which only we can communicate. If we happen to run into someone else who can speak and understand French, we usually revert back to English. French is our means of removing ourselves from the ordinary and to speak to each other as if we were really in France, as if we were living out both of our dreams.

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