Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Apprendre le Francais

I've never been interested in learning French.

It's always seemed like kind of a fussy language, what ballerinas and people who drink Champagne speak. Definitely like what people who drink Champagne out of a ballerina's slipper drink.

But yesterday I participated in an online seminar for people who are interested in learning about working for the organization Doctors Without Borders, or MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres). I was already interested, but the seminar made me truly excited.

And it answered one of my questions: if I wanted to do MSF, would I be better off continuing to learn Spanish, which I already speak moderately well, or starting over with French?

Answer: Spanish is almost useless in MSF, it sounds like. I think they said around 477 Americans were placed with MSF last year, and only three or four went to Latin America.

So French it is.

French, I remind myself, isn't just the language of people with waxed mustaches and heads of state with fancy mistresses. It isn't even just the language of tough-skinned peasants chewing on crusty rolls and salty sea captains in striped shirts. It's one of the languages used in many of the African countries where MSF works.

And if I'm going to do this, I might as well do it to the best of my ability.

So I cast off the Spanish I learned studying in Guatemala and the Italian I learned studying in Italy, and the Portuguese I was just beginning to learn with the wistful goal of spending the rest of my life, or at least several years, living in the Amazon rainforest, and I take up French.

When I started learning Portuguese I learned about the world of language bloggers. This blog will, I hope, help keep me motivated as I learn.

Google Translate will, at least at the beginning, help me put at least a little of every post into French. Presumably it will be bad French. At least to start with.

C'est l'un des passe-temps plus utile que j'ai jamais trouver.

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