Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Geek's Corner 20 : Signs of Progress

I still have a long way to go in this whole French adventure. But recently, there have been some faintly encouraging signs, that I might actually be making some decent progress. In no particular order:

* I can actually understand most of what is being said on the radio, for stretches of several (5 - 10) minutes at a time. As a yardstick, during the spring, I would regularly get hopelessly lost at around the 2-minute mark.

* These days, I actually notice where the accents go in words (and which type of accent). Shamefully, it was only at week 12 during the spring that I finally figured out that the letter 'a' only ever came with one kind of accent.

* Now, when I am trying to fall asleep, I am not prevented from doing so by different French words chasing one another around my brain. Instead, the obstacle is that different French *phrases* chase one another around my brain. Surely this must be considered progress of a sort.

* Finally, at least for the past three nights, everyone in my dreams (yes, this is one of those dream weeks again) has been speaking in French. Even people one might not expect to, like my Scottish friend Yvonne, and Maggie Smith (in her Minerva McGonagall incarnation - we were visiting Hogwarts Castle, it was a complicated dream).

* I can manage most written homework assignments reasonably well without a dictionary. (My epic "Tain" homework was an exception here, but that was a special case)

* I actually find that the actual idioms that people use all the time come to mind first, more and more often. For instance, "de nouveau", rather than "encore une fois", or "avoir du mal" rather than "avoir des difficultes". That kind of thing.

I still find "au sein de" and "avoir beau" completely impossible, however. And don't even get me started on the "ne expletif". The whole double/triple negation thing is something that French people pretend makes sense, but actually there is no logical basis whatsoever for the established usage in this particular area.

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