Hands up if you can speak another language? Now hands up if you can REALLY speak another language?
I ask because a couple of days ago my colleague and I were flexing our linguistic muscles as we hunched over the 5 minute quiz in the Dom Post.
Question three presented the perfect opportunity to put my four ever French lessons into action. ‘What would a Tricoteuse being doing at an execution?’ It asked.
Jumping in before anyone else had a chance, I piped up with “Well obviously it has to do with hair -Trico that has to be to do with hair. Maybe they made wigs for people to wear at an execution. Or perhaps they would plait the hair of the person who was about to be executed. Like a creepy hairdresser”
“Hmm nice try, but I think it is something to do with the number three. Tri, three get it, like triathlon, triangle?” my colleague said, armed with her 3rd from French.
Each confident that we had ‘nailed it’, we continued on with the quiz in a quietly competitive manner. Checking the answers, our dreams of bilingualism were crushed.
Tricoteuse is not a creepy hairdresser, nor does it have anything to do with the number three, it is, in fact, the name used for the women who frequented 18th century public executions and knitted their way through the beheadings. .
Just a little something to think about.
It got me thinking alright. I am a typical English monoglot. I have tried very unsuccessfully to learn Japanese, Italian, French and Maori.
A little knowledge is indeed a dangerous thing. When I was in Japan I was very aware of how limited my comprehension was, yet as soon as I left I was proffering to “get the gist” of most things. (WTF?) Talk about selective memory. Yes I could watashiwai, and subarashi, and pull out the waikarimasen but when I got beyond talking about drinking or the weather I was a stuttering muttering fool.
Same thing in Italian, aside from ordering a glass of vino or un café per favor, I spent my time relying on my then boyfriend to translate everything. Get me back on English speaking soil and again I am deluding myself about my ability.
This personality flaw does not bode well.
On this voyage I am responsible for soft furnishings, navigation and wait for it translating the weather forecast!!
Sweet baby Jesus.
Luckily the Spanish Embassy is in the same building as me so fingers crossed I will get my head and chops around the spanish for ”A large cyclone is heading your way”