Lovely Awkward: A Year of Wine, Romance and Life Among the French

Lovely Awkward: A Year of Wine, Romance and Life Among the French

Tuesday 8 June 2010

Oh, the languages we've learned

I spent hours yesterday working on a chapter of the book from the beginning of this romance. At first, I was having a slow writing day where I just couldn't get into the story. I had to think really, really hard and then remember really, really hard to get anything out of my sad little brain. In the end, I did it: I finished writing one of my very first conversations with the Professor, which made me feel that I would have better writing days ahead (thank goodness, this is supposed to be a big week for me).

But what's more interesting is what happened after I finished the chapter...

I went into the kitchen where M. Prof was starting our dinner and we started talking -- but something was different. It took me a moment to realize what all of this time spent concentrating on this first conversation of ours had actually done to me. It somehow sent me back in time, linguistically, to the beginning of our relationship again.

In the kitchen, I had started speaking English slowly again, as though I didn't expect to be understood. And then when I switched to French (we speak a mixture of both languages most of the time), I'd reverted back to the limited vocabulary and even the accent I'd had before. This moment of time-travel insanity only lasted a few moments, but it was a shock. I'd thought so hard about where we used to be that I was able to go back there for amount. And that meant that -- in the few seconds that this weirdness happened -- I actually got a chance to see how far our understanding of language (and of each other) has come. Freaky.

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