Saturday, March 3, 2012

Me Talk Pretty One Day

I am embarking on this journey to learn's the thing, I really really suck at grammar and remembering rules.

These are my strengths: I'm a musician and an auditory learner.  When I hear a melody once, I can sing it back almost perfectly.  When I hear an accent, I soak it up like a sponge.  The moment I set foot back in NYC, I pick up that filthy Brooklyn accent, whether I want to or not.  It is very easy for me to experience, feel, and embody language - but remembering vocabulary and verb tense?  Yikes.  It's terrifying.  I can hardly remember English grammar rules, much less the ins and outs of a second language.  And so, I'm going at it with a sense of humor and I'm giving myself permission to sound like a complete ass for a good long while.

David Sedaris wrote this hilarious book entitled, "Me Talk Pretty One Day".  In the book, David and his partner move to Paris, and David suddenly finds himself forced to learn French.  The following excerpt comes from the chapter, "Jesus Shaves", which describes students in his French class attempting to explain the concept of Easter in this unfamiliar language.  This pretty much sums up my attempt to learn a new language:

The Italian nanny was attempting to answer the teacher's latest question,  when the Moroccan student interrupted, shouting, "Excuse me, but what's an Easter?"...

...The teacher called upon the rest of us to explain.

The Poles led the charge to the best of their ability. "It is," said one, "a party for the little boy of God who call his self Jesus...oh shit." She faltered and her fellow country-man came to her aid.

"He call his self Jesus and then he be die one day on two...morsels of...lumber."

The rest of the class jumped in, offering bits of information that would have given the pope an aneurysm.

"He die one day and then he go above of my head to live with your father."

"He weared of himself the long hair and after he die, the first day he come back here for to say hello to the peoples."

"He nice, the Jesus."

"He make the good things, and on the Easter we be sad because somebody makes him dead today."

Part of the problem had to do with vocabulary.  Simple nouns such as cross and  resurrection were beyond our grasp, let alone such complicated reflexive phrases as "to give of yourself your only begotten son".

Exactly - thank you, David Sedaris.  I'm just glad that God and my friends in Mozambique are gracious and full of patience.
He nice, the Jesus.  He nice, the Mozambicans. Wish me luck!


  1. I applaud your bravery! I cried with laughter when I read this Sedaria book a few years ago- but frea not friend, you will talk pretty one day ;)

  2. thanks my lovely! loco glue anyone? ;)