I’m thinking about Australian-French relations in the light of the latest ‘spat’ over nuclear submarines. It would be a shame to sabotage (French word) our relationship with La Belle France over a few petite boats. I’ve been wondering how I can help. Firstly my mind drifts towards French cuisine. For example I’ve already resolved to eat more croissants and pain au chocolat. And I suggest all you real men out there wrap your chops around a quiche Lorraine. It’s the least we can do.
After all, we owe a lot to the French. Think of any aspect of life and you’ll find that France has made a huge contribution. Thanks to the French we have liberty, equality and fraternity. Democracy, in other words.
We use many French words in everyday English. It’s these thefts and borrowings from other languages that are our linguistic heritage, bringing colour and nuance to our sentences. And we do it without thinking. How much more interesting to be a dilettante than a dabbler. And what could be more intriguing and exciting than a liaison, or perhaps a rendezvous, in lieu of a meeting?
Mais oui … the French language is the haute cuisine to our meat and potatoes. Even the delightful, if barely-educated, Kath Day-Knight from Fountain Lakes was au fait (parfait?) with the odd French phrase. She could oft be heard admonishing the lumpish Kimmie or the hapless Kel to get a move on “toot sweet” (tout de suite).
They’re a risqué lot too – the French. Think soixante neuf and menage a trois.
And, guess what? Being bilingual is good for your brain. Apparently this mental work-out is great exercise for the cerebellum, building one’s cognitive reserve. I’m not sure what that is, but I know I could definitely use more of it. Another really exciting fact about being bilingual is that it seems to postpone the symptoms of dementia.
I took beginner French lessons (French for Travellers) before a trip to France some years ago. My travelling companion and I thought it would be apropos to ‘ave a little, ‘ow you say, tuition de Francais.
Our teacher Anne, which she pronounced “Ahnuh”, was a Paris-born French Polynesian. She always burst into the classroom in a manner tres jolie, in the most feminine of frocks, suitably exotic and complete with flower behind her ear.
Anne’s accent was syrupy, musical – so delightful to the ear, in fact, that I remember finding it hard to concentrate on my part of our contract, which was to learn how to speak the language. Instead I revelled in the beauty of the French language and marvelled at the gifts this and other languages have bestowed on my own rather dreary and stoic mother tongue.
So, to mend our friendship with France, let’s all eat beaucoup pate and croissants and try to pepper our speech with more French. Let’s say ‘je suis desole’ to our French friends, raise a glass of champagne and declare ‘a votre sante’ as our toast. Let them know we think their language, and by association, their government is tres magnifique.
Our enduring amitie will surely then be a fait accompli.