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mardi 15 décembre 2015

PHRASEBOOK AND REAL LIFE



CHAPTER FORTY-FOUR 


First of all, I'd like to thank all those of you who have commented chapter forty-two, and told me that having a coffee outside everyday does not mean you are a barfly.
Well, to be honest, I must confess that I was expecting such an answer.
One glass too many can turn a barfly into a boozer whereas one cup too many never makes me tipsy.Hard liquor can make a drinker stumble, but a strong coffee never makes me lose my balance. Of course, it gives me throbs and keeps me awake all night long, but nothing serious compared to a hangover !
No, actually, I have nothing much in common with barflies, I'm just a coffee buff. I must admit that when it comes to coffee, I am quite fussy : I have often deserted a café because the beverage they served was just brown  
water !
In my favourite haunt (see chapter 42)every early afternoon I spoil myself with an excellent coffee. To top it all, Sylvain ( I forgot to mention your name in chapter 42 and as you are modest, you were not sure I was writing about you , so now you know !) knows I have a sweet tooth, he never fails to add some treats to my espresso !
Hey, don't get me wrong !! Even if I have found the place to have the perfect shot of espresso, the main reason for my choice is that my Aladdin's cave is a social hub, a good place to chit-chat, to socialize and to ...overhear conversations.
Some weeks ago, I was sitting near a group of four old men.I was pretending to flip through the newspaper, but actually I was eavesdropping on their chatter ! Don' call me nosy bee, please !!
I just pricked up my ear because I could catch some snatches of conversation in Breton.That reminded me of my grand-parents who used to speak Breton, first to save their language, but also for me not to understand when an important matter was brought up !
Those four men's words were such a music to my ears that I decided to learn the basics of my ancestors' mother tongue.

I didn't want to get a degree but just to be able to handle some everyday situations within a few weeks. So, I thought a phrasebook would meet my expectations...
I was just deluding myself and I realized it as soon as I received the paperback ordered from a website.
I know phrasebooks offer the seductive illusion of mastering a language at little cost, but, anyway, in mine I found some sentences I can hardly conceive of ever using. I can't help quoting some :

I'd like to buy a pair of binoculars.
. I am allergic to nutmegs
. I want to rent a rubber dinghy.
. What's that barn in the middle of the clearing ?

I've got tons more if you want !

So, I shelved my purchase and found a website to learn Breton for free. I knew there are no miraculous short cuts when it comes to language learning, you just need to commit. I was willing to work hard, and, the idea of being able to exchange with the four men in the café helped me to feel motivated. I studied everyday : I hammered words, phrases, and so on, into my brain over and over again.

Then a few days ago, I decided to take the plunge !

I greeted the four Breton speakers in Breton and managed to tell them( still in Breton) that I was going for a walk , and, as it was overcast, I hoped it would not rain.
Then I said kenavo (=bye in Breton) and left.
Hardly had I crossed the threshold when I heard one of them say :

"What did she say ?"

Another answered :

" Something about the weather, but I could not catch all ".

To my dismay, a third voice added :

" She was not speaking Breton, was she ? ".

Fortunately, I was outside, otherwise I would have wanted the earth to swallow me up. I was as red as a beetroot, I had a lump in my throat, my hands were sweaty !

Yet, my power walk helped me to cheer up and pull myself together.
Whatever the number of mistakes I had made, I had taken the plunge, and as the saying goes : " the first step is the hardest " !

Learn that lesson !!

Share this chapter with all the people afraid of speaking a foreign language !!

Remember : the sky is the limit !

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