Tuesday, October 26, 2010
It is making all the difference that there are other people in my class. Last time, it was only me and I was petrified, PETRIFIED, I tell you, to speak, because everything I said was wrong and I felt stupid. But, now that there are other people in class, it has become apparent that all of us SOUND STUPID! We each have our moments of glory, mind you, however brief they may be, where we sound legitimate, but for the most part we sound stupid. It is as if someone came up to you in America on the street and said, “Hello, ma’am”. Then, with an incredibly awkward pause in between, finally said, “Could you me tell”, and then about 30 seconds later, finally spit out, “where is to the city center the bus appropriate?”. You’d be like, um, what? Could you say that again? You see? This is how speaking we are. Like Yoda, but not as cute or famous.
I am amazed that my teacher does not spend the whole 3 hours just cracking up. Really. We are that bad. We think we are good, but then we open our mouths and it goes something like this:
TEACHER: Ma chere, je vous veux conjuguer le verbe “connaitre” dans le passé composer.
ME: (Under my breath in forbidden English), OK, she wants me to conjugate the verb “to know” in the past tense.
TEACHER: Oui. (Because she heard everything I just whispered to myself in forbidden English).
ME: Uh, …um, je, no, wait a minute, j’ai, uh…you said “connaitre”, right? OK, OK, uh, j’ai connaitru, no, that’s not right, uh, it’s right here on the tip of my tongue, I swear, oh, maybe, j’ai connu? YESSS! J’ai connu!! Final answer: j’ai connu.
TEACHER: Oui. (And then, under her breath, in French, Oh, la, la. When is lunch?) Out loud, she says, Oui, et qu’est ce que les autres neuf pronoms et leur verbes?
ME: (Whispering). OK, she wants to know what the other nine forms of the verb are with their pronouns. Oh, my God, when is lunch?
So en crescendo, here is how one kisses in French-speaking countries:
Un bec A tiny air kiss in the vicinity of the cheek
Gros becs A few, slightly bigger pecks on either cheek, more sound than contact, if you know what I mean
Bisou Actual contact with the cheek, among friends,
generic word for kiss
Bisous The act, in Europe, of giving multiple kisses on cheeks, upon
greeting, among friends
Gros bisous Giving bisous to friends with gusto, may include actual
lip-to-cheek contact and squeezing of shoulders or biceps
Je t’embrasse An actual hug and kiss, perhaps even on the lips, heartfelt,
among good friends and close family
Gros/tendre baiser An intimate hug/kiss between lovers
BUT, BUT, BUT baiser (pronounced exactly the same way as the last one on the list above) is also a verb which means a very vulgar way to have sexual intercourse, as in the difference between saying “I want to make love to you” and “I’m going to **** you.”
Do you think I will quit French now? No, I will not. At least not until I can conjugate baiser with all ten pronouns.
Since I have no pictures of any of the natives bisou-ing, I will post some pictures of downtown Lausanne and the surrounding canton de Vaud. xoxoxo