Friday, April 23, 2010

Je ne vais pas voler…or quelle couleur est ton bonnet de natation

Je ne vais pas voler...mais je vais prendre un avion bientot.

A French friend has let me know that even though strictly speaking, to say I’m going to fly is grammatical, the everyday use in that context generally means I’m going to steal something. She said I also may say, if I’m flying: je m’envole.

This is where there’s no substitute for learning in context, because if you type “I’m going to fly” into a translating program (not to pick on, which I think is good, but which creates this very result) you come up with “je vais voler,” and all of your francophone friend will think you an admitted thief, rather than a world traveler.

Speaking of flying, my impending trip to France has me wanting to refresh my vocabulary of mundane place names and such, and make sure I can understand directions from here to there, and to pound into my head the importance of properly and politely greeting each person I meet, especially shopkeepers.

It also makes my heart soar to think of bringing a year’s worth of passionate, if clumsy, practice to fruition with a trip to the city I love and want to know more intimately. Mes amis here, and there, are so supportive of my desire to fly and I aim to find a way to share the pleasure of the journey with them.

Also, I turn my attention now to helping my son learn more these important phrases and local customs as he is joining me too. We’ll soon be buying swim caps to wear to one of the many local piscines in Paris, which we haven’t needed here, but which will be obligatoire la-bas, par example.

Really this whole year has been a journey, of community- and friendship-ship building, and how lucky I have been to be part of a surprising and delightful Francophone community in Spokane. I look forward also to spending more time with the vibrant Francophone community that I’ve just touched the edges of so far in Seattle.

So, for those of you who have helped me so much thus far,  I invite you to share some of the local words or terminology you’ve found most useful (or confusing!) on your travels to France here in the comments section.

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