Well, it’s time for another language rant. You have to agree it’s been a while. Let me preface this whole thing by freely admitting that I am a ridiculous person. That’s never stopped me before, won’t stop me now. I say ridiculous because I still expect to be visited by the French Fluency Fairy who will sprinkle glitter on my tongue while I sleep, allowing me to wake and recite Balzac and Baudelaire with ease.
I’ve been so busy marvelling at mountains, moving apartments, zipping up to Zurich, and starving half to death while Neil was away that I haven’t so much as blown a bit of dust off my French study books. And yet, I walked into a computer store in French speaking Switzerland and assumed all would be well.
The backstory here is that my beloved laptop—the one that gave me this blog and a book, the one that stole two years of my life with its wicked access to everything useless—is terminally ill. I’m the number one subscriber to www.wheredidthedaygo.com (merci Duchess Downith for that clever way to describe wasting valuable verb conjugation time). So imagine my reaction to the grim diagnosis: it would cost almost as much to fix it as to replace it.
Which brings me back to the point. I am blessed to live in a small town that has a computer store that does everything related to Apple products. What they don’t do is anything related to English. There I was, mourning the loss of my beloved machine and the loss of a chunk of change I hadn’t planned. Suffice to say I was not in top mental condition.
So, the saleswoman was doing up a quote and there was a word I didn’t understand. I pointed to it and politely asked, “Qu’est-ce que ça veut dire (what does that mean)?” She repeated the word. Blank stare from me. And then she repeated it again, only louder. I smiled, “Je suis desoleé Madame, je ne comprends pas. (I’m sorry Madame, I don’t understand).” Her helpful reply? Saying the word over and over and progressively louder. Merde. If only I’d known the French for Missus, keep this shit up and you’re going down.
Now the word itself is immaterial, mostly because I forget the friggin’ word. The moral of the story is when someone doesn’t understand something, repeatedly yelling back what they don’t understand does nothing to improve international relations. It is, however, quite handy for making someone feel like an idiot. Clearly she was unaware that I’ve recently won two obscure blog awards in Canada. The nerve.
Of course I’ve only myself to blame. It was good of her to remind me that language acquisition requires sustained practice (at the very least picking up a book more than once a month). I reminded her of something as well—I ordered my computer online.