Sunday, September 29, 2013

Je cherche un(e) ami(e) qui parle français...

I'm writing this from the depths of the night--twenty of four in the morning, which is getting close to a time I wouldn't blanch to get up at, three months ago--and my thoughts are sluggish, like graveyard worms. I've kept the same sleep schedule on my nights off, at Eva's very wise insistence.
Sleeping during the day is still an issue. No problems getting to sleep, but staying asleep is difficult, even with sleeping pills. It's not the light and it's not the, the betrayal comes from my own body. Either I'll pop awake ready to wet the bed, no matter that I'd attended to that a scarce two hours prior, or -- like yesterday -- I'll bolt awake with monstrous cramps in both thighs. (I've suffered off and on from leg cramps for much of my adult life, and they are occasionally all but debilitating.) Or I'll suddenly find myself awake for no apparent reason. At least I've learned I can get back to sleep...sometimes even a single extra hour of slumber makes all the difference. For the last week I've had that maddening I'm-getting-sick feeling: tickle in the throat, plugged up head. It refuses to progress beyond a mild annoyance, which in itself is annoying...c'mon, Ken, puke or get off the pot.  Can't afford to get sick now, though, not with yet another inventory coming up at work.


My French II course is progressing. Different teacher this time, with a completely different teaching style. I've gotten perfect marks on my first two vocabulary quizzes, but I have a feeling they're going to get harder from here on out. We're still not even at a grade 11 level yet (with a few exceptions), which makes me wonder how far I'm going to get before I run into substantial material I've never seen. A long, long way, if I have anything to say about it.  I'm trying to expose myself to enough French to keep ahead of the curriculum...reading French newspapers online and listening to a lot of French music. The latter is interesting, because often the first listen-through is gibberish, but once I've gone through it four or five times I can at least pick out what the song's about, and translate whole sentences. It brings me back to high French teacher used to hand out lyric sheets at least once a week, lyric sheets with blanks to fill in, and then play a song two or three times. I loved this forces you to think in context. Plus, a lot of the music was interesting in and of itself. The final song we got hit with was this:

The chorus isn't too difficult, but the verses...! It's almost a rap in places, and M. Yake didn't give us too many clues.

The whole French thing iss very enjoyable, and to be honest I can very easily see myself in the teacher's role some day.  But for now, the biggest issue is that this class is only once a week. It's not that I forget things week to week, just that I don't get enough practice actually conversing in French between classes. And by "enough" I mean any. Originally Eva was going to be taking these courses with me, but she got moved to straight afternoons; then I was going to teach her on my own time, but between her overtime at work and my new schedule, that's not happening either.  Y at-il quelqu'un parmi mes amis prêts à devenir un correspondant français? You'd have to be willing to put up with my all-too-frequent errors.

One thing I learned right quick is that I can't trust Google Translate...I think it'll be many years before it can reliably handle even simple translations. One example: There's an absolutely gorgeous, extremely sad song by Lynda Lemay called Reste avec elle ("Stay With Her").

Here, I'm going to link it, it's just that beautiful.

It tells the story of a woman in love with a man whose heart has been claimed by someone else, and it makes my heart ache.   (What a wonderful world we could have if love wasn't usually so damned possessive. That's a whole 'nother blog, or ten.) Anyway, because French is a gendered language, the pronoun for "her' can also mean it, if the "it" is a feminine noun...and that's what Google goes with: "stay with it". On the one hand it's a perfectly understandable error, and on the other it's completely inexcusable.

Reste avec elle
Elle a dans la tête toutes les réalités dont je rêve
which Google translates as

it was in the head, all of which I dream with reality

and you don't need to know a single word of French and not much English to realize that's bunk. I mean, come on, aside from the fact the English "translation" makes no sense at all, and even pardoning the "she/it" issue, French nouns pluralize in many cases similar to English, and "réalités" is obviously plural. And "it was in the head" would be "il/elle était à la tête"...which Google gets right if you reverse-translate.  "Elle a" is  "she has"---it's one of the first verbs you learn. Sigh.

I think the real translation is

Stay with her
She has in her head all the realities I dream of

with the sense that "her every reality is my every dream" (i.e. she has you).

But I could very well be wrong there, and I don't know for sure what's right. I mean, I know all those words and I can translate them individually, but when you get into songs or poetry the actual meaning is often hiding behind metaphor. It may be a very simple metaphor if you know the freakin' language, but I don't. Not yet. J'essaie...I'm trying....

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