Friday, June 7, 2013

Tintin and Maribell

This week has actually been pretty awesome. I got back from Carcassonne (and recuperated) just in time for Maribell’s last week here. Maribell is definitely the loudest of the group of girls I tend to hang out with. She is this very energetic, big-hearted Texan woman, who loves to tease me about saying ‘eh’ even though she is notorious for using not only ‘y’all’, but ‘all y’all’. Sigh… Americans hahaha! That means that basically all week we’ve been sauntering around Montpellier eating sorbet and tarts alternately, and window shopping.

Maribell caught unawares in Carcassonne
Now, I bring up window shopping for the express reason of explaining this afternoon. Maribell is not only a notorious user of ‘y’all’, but also a notorious shopper. Here’s the catch, she loves shopping for you! So of course, Laura and I have ended up with some wonderful new purchases, and Maribell hadn’t spent a dime… until this afternoon.
Maribell’s favourite phrases in French include ‘En Francais, Maribell!’ (which is the most common sentence she hears in class) and ‘I’m going to reflechir’ (which is Fringlish for ‘I’m going to think about it’). For three weeks now Laura and I have heard all about ‘that pair of amazing pants’ and ‘the cutest shoes ever!’. Today, because it was Maribell’s last afternoon in Montpellier we had our revenge, and it was so, so beautiful. We took Maribell shopping, with two rules.

1.      Laura and I weren’t buying anything
2.      No ‘reflechir’

It went incredibly well. Not only did Laura and I get to enjoy the extreme satisfaction of watching our friend finally purchase things for herself that she loved and looked good in, but for once we went home with full wallets. Win!

Maribell and Laura making faces.
More academically, I am outrageously thrilled that my French has progressed in a tangible way. Guys, this is a big deal, don’t miss the next sentence. I can understand Tintin cartoons!
That’s right, you heard it here first. I can understand children’s cartoons in French. My new favourite afternoon activity is sitting on my bed with my (steadily shrinking) bag of 5-cent-candy-that-wasn’t-5-cents from Carcassonne and watching Tintin. About 4 or 5 times an episode Tintin will use an expression that I have to double-check with, but I’m actually catching nearly all of it, and that feels like a huge accomplishment.

Tintin and the company, and a link to Tintin et l'Ile Noire
It’s funny, because I’m finding that I’ll work on something for a few weeks and feel like I’m not improving at all. Then, out of nowhere, suddenly something will change drastically. This Tintin thing is a great example. Last week was the first time I entered the intensive set of courses, which focuses almost entirely on oral communication and comprehension. Everyday we watch a film clip of some sort (a newsreel, tourist ad, movie short, etc.) and answer a sheet of about 10 questions. All of last week and right up until yesterday this week I couldn’t keep up with the film clips to save my life. I’d get two, maybe 3 questions answered and then just drown for the rest of the sheet. Watching the clip two or three times made little difference, they just spoke way too fast.
Yesterday, we watched a clip on a man named Stephen Clarke who wrote a book on the Secret Life of Paris, which is a spoof ‘survival guide’ for British nationals seeking to understand all the funny things the French do. Not only did I catch enough of the clip to tell you that, I answered 10/13 questions after the first viewing; and I got them right. Needless to say, I was shocked. Excited, to be sure, but also shocked.
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened, so I asked the girls about it. Unanimously they agreed that it’s happened to them while they’ve been here, and that you can’t predict when it’s going to happen, or with what. Currently I’m hoping something brilliant is going to materialize with my ability to properly pronounce words with loads of vowels in them, because right now I do funny things with ‘oh’, ‘oooooh’ ‘uh’ and ‘ueh’.

… Ok those aren’t exactly the official phonetic alphabet, but if you’ve ever attempted to learn French (read: all Canadians until grade 6) you know exactly what I’m talking about. 

No comments:

Post a Comment