When I first met Lance one of my student of French, in June 2013, his level of French was very basic. After several hours of private French lessons in one to one that summer and a training at the Alliance française of Sydney since, he came back this fall in Paris with a much more advanced level in French. His great love of the French language dates back to his childhood.
We had a discussion last week about French language and how the French language still benefits from some flattering comments despite the « French-bashing » widespread in the media at the moment. Lance wrote spontaneously a a text where he relates how he first discovered French and all the cultural references that the language reminds to him. It seemed to me that his text was totally highlighting my previous post “Why do people find French language charming” this is the reason why I decided to publish it on the blog.
“To all intents and purposes I have grown up in a traditional Anglo-Saxon speaking household but also been exposed through a grandparent to several Chinese dialects. My first exposure to French was compulsorily inflicted as a teenager by the secondary education system. I immediately fell passionately in love with the French language and it has been my true, but frequently unfaithful lover; so very desirable to listen to, but so wilfully complex to relate to. To many an English speaking ear like mine, the French language is the uniquely precious Aphrodite jewel in the Crown Jewels of global languages.
When I hear the beautiful tones of the language I am flooded with a Kaliederscope of vivid images: the Belle Époque that lingers in the beautifully preserved Rue’s of Paris; the great intellectual philosophers of my student days such as Voltaire, Teilhard de Chardin, Sartre; the romantic artists of old France so colourfully represented by the likes of Toulouse-Lautrec, Rodin, Monet; the Bohemian foreigners seduced by Paris including the likes of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Porter and company; the sensual writings of Simone de Beauvoir that publicised her intimate relationships with her ‘New York Man’ and Jean-Paul Sartre; the wonderfully erotic burlesque of the Moulin Rouge; the internationally famous stars of world entertainment, including the likes of Marcel Marceau, Charles Aznavour, Edith Piaff to name but a few; the sensually attractive women of stage and screen such as Bridgitte Bardot, Catherine Denueve, Juliette Binoche and Marion Cotillard; the very sensual Haute Couture of Paris as symbolised by unconventional personalities such as Chanel, Givenchy, Gaultier to name just a very precious few; not to forget the gastronomic delights of French cuisine; and last but not least the very beautiful, haughty and elegant women that grace the streets of Paris.
Some of these images are real, many may well be historical, whilst others are pure fantasy. But to someone of English speaking origin they seem appropriate images of a society and culture not subjected to the puritanical Victorian era of the Anglo Saxon speaking world. So by blending these images of intellect, beauty and desire with the soft flowing music of the French language, it is not surprising that to the English speaker the French language is second to none in the entire world.