My French was all over the map

My French was all over the map

Throughout my last work journey, I did a great deal of bouncing around:.

1 week in Dakar

3 days in Abidjan

Almost 2 weeks in Korhogo, northern Côte d’Ivoire

1 week in Abidjan

1 day in Dakar

1 week in Saint-Louis, Senegal

2 days in Dakar

Like my body, my brain likewise bounced around a lot– particularly when it concerned French. In a reasonably brief duration– 5 weeks– my speaking and understanding abilities flailed about on a continuum in between almost nonexistent and fairly competent. My French was so irregular, and my brain’s see-sawing (in) capability to speak it was so overwelming, that I invested much of my leisure time considering what all of it indicated. A couple of ideas, as haphazardly put together as my French:

Jet lag took its anticipated toll on my capability to believe and speak directly, so I wasn’t worried when my French came out haltingly initially. I ended up being alarmed, nevertheless, when it totally left me numerous days later on in Abidjan. I seemed like I was comprehending at words and expressions through a thick wall of slime. Understanding was as tough as speaking. In the beginning I believed it was due to the fact that I was dealing with the Ivorian accent, however then a French female resolved me at the hotel and I totally stopped working to get her drift; she might also have actually been speaking mumbo jumbo.

For the 3 weeks that I remained in Cote d’Ivoire, my French was satisfactory at best, nonexistent at worst. I got actually distressed at the idea that a couple of months of restricted use might eliminate the cumulative years of work I had actually taken into discovering this language.

However then, extremely, the day I returned to Senegal, my French returned also. It was a severe variation of a lesson I have actually found out (and forgotten and relearned) many times: my language abilities remain in continuous flux, and depending on many various aspects. So what triggered my brain to turn upside down and empty itself of its French this time around? I associate it to a subconscious choice, in the face of huge logistical disappointments and less huge however still discouraging language obstacles, to close down my French as a streamlining step. By going mute for all intents and functions, I efficiently prevented taking obligation for fixing issues I had not produced which I discovered frustrating. Withholding my French was a method of keeping all my valuable psychological and psychological energy for myself, on an individual level, rather of utilizing all of it up expertly. Not the most mentally fully grown response to misfortune, however possibly ingenious?

Throughout my bout of non-French, I likewise discovered myself not able to speak the fully-formed English of which I am constantly rather capable. (I ensured not to hang a preposition because previous sentence to show my point.) Rather, I spoke franglais for the very first time in my life.

Though my regular French had actually failed me, when I spoke in English, every now and then the word I desired would pop into my head in French and would not step aside to leave space for its English equivalent. Instead of time out and wait on the English word to lastly get here, I began succumbing to the franglais, and to be truthful I enjoyed it.

Some things that came out of my mouth throughout my franglais duration:

The very first distributeur[ATM] was en panne[out of order] however the one at the back of the lobby was working.

Is this the longest you’ve lived à l’étranger[abroad]?

Why exists a lot traffic on a dimanche[Sunday]?

There is a moustique[mosquito] in this space and I am going to discover it and eliminate it.

I need to go chercher[find] supper quickly.

By my last couple of days of the journey, in Senegal, I was back to speaking competent French (and franglais-tinged English). Strangely enough, when speaking French, English words never ever, ever pop into my head in location of French ones. Rather, I’ll draw a total blank every as soon as in a while. After looking for the word in French– which seems like.
my brain is spinning through words on a Rolodex— if I lose it’s difficult for me to include the word in English rather. My English-speaking brain closes down and is basically unattainable when I remain in French mode.

I constantly consider my French as comparable to a specific factoid I found out in 6th grade sex ed. It actually struck me/ morbidly captivated me that females can inadvertently pee throughout sex, however guys can’t. This is due to the fact that when the penis is completely put up, it cuts off the circulation of pee from the bladder to the part of the urethra that remains in the penis.

The circulation of sperm from the vas deferens to the urethra, nevertheless, is unobstructed throughout sex. I do not understand why however I constantly consider French as attractive sperm and English as run of the mill urine. English can not join French in my brain the method sperm can not join pee in the urethra. My current wave of franglais complicates this example. In attempting to find out a method around it recently it I found an undesirable principle called the piss boner (I think I’m protected due to the fact that I never ever became aware of or experienced it prior to). I wish to presume that franglais is sort of like that unusual incident that is the piss boner …? I do not understand. I’m sort of comprehending.

However I have actually seen sex connected to language extremely convincingly prior to. I’m believing mostly of White, part of Kieslowski’s 3 Colors trilogy. The primary character, a Pole living in France, can not get it up for his French partner in Paris, so she leaves him, rather rudely if I keep in mind properly. However then he goes back to Poland and techniques her into visiting him there, where he provides her an insane orgasm prior to capturing her into looking guilty of a criminal offense she didn’t devote, for which she goes to prison. I might be misremembering the plot a bit– I saw this film when I was 14 or two. However even at that childhood I was deeply impacted by the concept that fluency– whether in a language, a culture, or the social mores of a location– equates to belonging, which equates to self-confidence and power.

When you do not have control over your language or you remain in an unknown environment, you are noticeably disempowered. (I understand this on a deep level, from uncomfortable experience.)

Which brings me to another current awareness: puissance suggests power in French; impuissance suggests impotence. It’s fascinating the manner in which individuals (probably guys) who established the Latin language inextricably connected the capability to get and preserve an erection with effectiveness and power.

All this things amazes me to no end. Linguistic psychology, I imply; the method our brains develop and gain access to language.

However possibly I have actually droned on about it too long, so I will stop peeing, so to speak, and quote you goodbye for a couple of weeks. I’m avoiding on trip to numerous locations where I do not speak the language one bit! Ought to be lots of enjoyable, when not totally disempowering [insert eek emoji].