11 November 2008

delayed reactions

As frustrating as learning a second language can be, the process has its advantages.

First of all, it forces my brain to go into overdrive every day, while my thoughts and my tongue wrap around new words and sounds, respectively.

Secondly, when I encounter a comment that frustrates me (read: fills me with rage), I can't freak out immediately. Because of my French deficiency, I am forced to carefully sort through my thoughts, compose myself, and then painstakingly struggle through a tempered reaction. The following examples are roughly translated from French.

Example # 1 (2 weeks ago):
"I can't believe gays are allowed to marry here in Canada. When I heard the idea of them adopting children, it killed me. I wanted to shoot myself."
- a student in my class who recently immigrated from mexico

Example # 2 (today)
"We do not do the moment of silence here in Quebec. That is an anglophone tradition. Canadian soldiers went to war on behalf of the queen, and we were against the war. It does not make sense for us to remember something in this case."
- my teacher, who is a very nice lady, in response to my question as to whether or not our class would observe the moment of silence for remembrance day.

In both cases, I'm sure you can guess my immediate, emotional reactions. What would you say? Where would you start?

My fury and my lack of competence in French made the words tangle in my mind. Instead of spewing out a weird mélange of sloppy, angry Franglais, I took the time to really think about how I would reply. Strangely enough—and perhaps because of this— I am much more proud of how I responded in French than how I could have responded in English.

1 comment:

Jenn said...

Ahh I love this post so much, mostly because I can completely relate to the forced delay in your reaction.

I have vivid memories of my days as a rebellious teen arguing with my French-speaking step mother, and avoiding serious family blowouts by having a limited knowledge of bilingual insults and or swear words.

Nicely done.