Friday, February 26, 2010

That Religious Guy: Parlez-vous Français?

..... In January, I was sitting at home watching ABC World News with Diane Sawyer. The ABC news team was doing a special on the economic struggle in Haiti after the earthquake. One reporter was trying to speak broken French to a group of Haitian children. In her American accent, she said, "Ça va? Ça va?" The little boys and girls politely nodded their heads in comprehension, but it was clear that they were laughing at her poor pronounciation. I noticed her stumbling over the basic phrase one learns in French 1-2 myself. In the past couple of weeks, I've sort of regretted my decision to take French freshman year, but after seeing the reporter's attempt, I'm glad I study the language of Napoleon, Lafayette, and Rousseau.
..... The reason for my loss of French fervor earlier this year was that I've come to appreciate my own language, Tagalog. 40% of informal speech between Tagalog speakers a day is made up of Spanish loan words. I filled my head with doubts as to whether taking French was a smart choice, given the idea that learning Spanish could enhance my Tagalog. One of the main reasons I took French, however, was to be different from what was expected of me.
..... My parents encouraged my brother to take Spanish in order to help translate for our Mexican customers. Like me, my brother had wanted to take French ever since he was young, but conformed to their wishes. I, however, broke from what my parents desired and instead took French since I thought Spanish would be too similar to my native language. French provides me difficult challenges, but ones that allow me to grow in my understanding.
..... Now in Journalism: Graphic Design and Photography, Tiffany and I are making a brochure to promote the French program at Stagg. French is a language spoken by 6 million people in the U.S. as a second language. Plus, French is spoken worlwide in five continents. Other than English, it is also taught in every country as a second language. Spanish may be a growing tongue here in America, but French still retains its relevancy. (That's right Mrs. Weir-Graham, au contraire!)
..... For people trying to decide whether to study French or Spanish, I recommend thinking about the following. Spanish is easier to pronounce, but with diligent practice one can achieve the refined French "r" and other phonetic sounds quickly. French also has easier grammar, something quite foreign to my friends studying Spanish and its four different words for "you." Whether, you're more of a Francophone than a Hispanohablante (or the other way around), at least your taking the steps to learning and experiencing a different culture through its language. So don't be intimidated in trying something new, since twenty years from now, you won't want to be the reporter messing up the native language of a country your assigned to report about.

- Jeremy Dela Cruz

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