Monday, August 08, 2005

Si vous pouvez lire ceci, alors vous savez plus fran├žais que je fais.*

Sometimes when I look at my site meter, I check my "by referral" URLs to figure out where at least some of my traffic comes from. Sometimes the URLs are from sites I recognize or have linked to in the past. Sometimes they're from the mysterious "unknown." Some of them probably just come from hitting the "Next Blog" button on the Blogger navigation bar.

But sometimes the referral comes from a foreign-language blog, in French or Spanish or Portuguese or any of another handful of languages I don't speak. And it reminds me once again how I wish I knew another language fluently. As an American, I've been allowed to be lazy, because the rest of the world bothers to learn English. (I have faked my way around with a phrase book. I've been told I have a knack for reading foreign languages with a passable accent. And I'm really good at smiling, pointing, and smiling some more, which is surprisingly effective.)

In high school, my mother insisted I study Latin, which I did--top of the class for three years. In truth, it probably helped my English skills a lot, but short of the Vatican, where could I go and practice? In college, I studied Italian for one dreadful year (the teacher was among the more memorable martinets I've had the misfortune of sitting in a classroom with) and Russian for almost three years until I finally realized I just didn't have the time or interest in studying to fluency. Again, no practice means I lost most of what I did know. (And I've still never been to Russia, though my year of Russian History was one of the most pleasurable in my college career.)

I've come to realize that most of the foreign words I know relate to food--I can make my way through menus in any number of languages. I'm not sure if that means anything beyond the fact that I love food (and food is certainly a wonderful starting point to immersing oneself into another culture). And I can read road signs in French--you can't visit Quebec without learning that lentement means "slow," because there's always some travaux (roadwork) ahead. I guess now I just have to wait for a foreign-language blog with a magical combination of material on restaurants, cooking, and driving backroads to pop up on the referring URL page--and hope I can find my phrase books.

Or maybe I should just book a trip to the Vatican.

French language phrase courtesy of the invaluable website, Freetranslation.com.

5 Comments:

Blogger Mr. Liberty said...

Hmmmmm....Alison. Lives in Massachusetts, studied Russian and Russian history, has probably had Russian dressing....If this were 1955 I'd have to consult "Red Channels" to see if you can keep your blog.

As for Latin, could you write me a prescription?

joe

4:13 PM  
Blogger Alison Rose said...

"Until this moment, Mr. Liberty, I think I had never gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"

But you're right--I've not only had Russian dressing, but a Reuben without Russian is just a shadow of a sandwich.

On the prescription thing, let me get back to you. :-)

6:05 AM  
Blogger Mr. Liberty said...

A Reuben is a Woburn, no?

Sometimes I think perhaps I'm not jewish enough. I never did like Reuben sandwiches. They purposely make it a sticky sandwich so you cannot tell what's in it. It's unsafe, I tells ya!

I'm more a corned beef on white with mayo. Make of that what you will!:>)

11:45 AM  
Blogger Tish G. said...

I'm a stat-a-holic....check 'em more often than I should, that's for sure. And when you have "sex" in your blog title...well, you end up with alot of people looking for alot of really strange things. Surprisingly, alot of them stay and read. Not that what I'm writing about has anything to do with what they're searching, but, hey, they're readers!

11:30 AM  
Anonymous pepperbro said...

But it is possible to get what you need and still entertain your hosts in their own country with only a passing knowledge of their language. Have made it all through Mexico knowing only food names and 3 other phrases:
1)Donde esta el banjo, por favor?;
2)Manos arriba, esto es un el robo! and; 3) Tango su burrito grande aqui, amiga! Surpringly enough, I've therefore made it thru entire Hispanic nations 1)never having wet myself; 2)being offered the contents of the cash register (the line is from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid); and 3)most surprisingly, still haven't gotten my face slapped in a public place!

6:15 AM  

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