so it has been bugging me lately that when certain francophones pass articles my way to read, i can’t parse the language.
basically, if you know me, i speak fluent french. this isn’t me boasting, i learned french before english, just ask my parents. why is written french so distanced from the spoken dialect?
perhaps a small clue can come from some of my ex-coworkers at ircam in paris a few years ago. when i asked how to spell french slang no one knew because on n’ecrit pas l’argot [one doesn’t write slang]. my current language partner (she is helping me with my german) speaks with a fantastic accent in french, but can’t understand a darn thing i say en francais parle’. i like to think of myself as a sort of word snob in english, so why am i not that way with french?
i could go the route of saying that obscure cultural references and my lack of post 1970’s french pop culture is the culprit. i could say i’m lazy and that my french is rusty or never was that intellectually inspired. i could mention that i firmly believe that my brain houses french and english in two separate lexicons. or i could simply gripe about french run on sentences with their grandiloquent use of vocabulary and old fashioned poetic undercurrents that would undermine even the most rambling of american journalists while still evading the dispassionate swipe of an editor’s cursor resisting instead to exist in the realm of gorgeous but unreadable prose meant to evoke fields of supercilious coquelicots in a red not-quite-vermilion bowing their heads in a ripple of silent percussion from an errant zephyr.
…or it could be i absorb massive quantities of written-by-americans news each day.