How the Deaf Learn French

In the last few days my wife has decided we need to go to Paris. This is not something new so much as it is a twist on something we have talked about and planned for years.

In 2001 I printed out  map of the southern European coast and planed for us to fly to Barcelona, rent a cute little Fiat and drive to Venice, then fly back. It turned out we went to Southwest Harbor, Maine, instead. Which was a very good decision for lots of reasons. I have never had as great of a lobster as i had at a place right down on the water. Suzanne got to see not only her father’s hometown,  but we actually got to go inside his old house and see where he was born. And we got to take him. We didnt know it, but it would be his last trip. we lost him less than two years later.

Along the way, some things have changed, we have a 9 year old, and i have aged enough to realize a two or three day road trip in America is really beyond our combined patience.  A road trip thru 3-4 countries, of which none them have a native tongue which I can go beyond butchery, and that being Spanish. Suzanne was really dying to go to the UK. With the exception of Cornwall, I cannot imagine why I would want to go to England. We both think Ireland would be great. In 2001, we both were a bit skeptical of Paris, though we both wanted to see it. Now she is reading a book about long ago Paris, and while we cant time travel to the 14th century, we can see the place, and so much of the old city is still standing from the 14th century, we can time travel a bit. She has read a bit about modern Paris, and is persuaded that the French disdain for Americans is a bit overstated, mostly by rude Americans that expect the whole world to be more like St Louis than anything else. (I like St Louis just fine, but if i want to see St Louis, I go to St Louis).

We dont know when we are going to go, we dont know how we will pay for it, but we have put it on the Goals of Life sheet. She decided we should learn as much French as possible. I suggested we go tot he library and get a language cd. We did. It is always so good to go to the library.  It is for us what a church might be for Christians. we actually got to cd sets, one for her and one for me. On the way home, we decided to listen to the first disc. Christopher was with us, so the three of us practiced as we rode along. French is hard. It is a little easier for me to review the phrases on google translate because just hearing them, Though it is much easier to learn if you hear it first and then go look it up to get a sense of what you are trying to say. if you see it first, your English willpredudice you from ever saying it right. You know the Spanish and the Italians never saw a letter they did not want to call out loud, and the English, at least the American English, say most of there letters, except for second vowels and a few initial ‘h’s, the French seem to just use the written as a general guide t what one might actually want to say, kind of the opposite of shorthand.

Dont get me wrong, I am not picking on the French. We love the French. We really want to go to Paris. We might grow old and never make it to Eurpoe at all, but we are pretty sure we are going to Paris, and before we get too old. But I am sure my French will suffer two fold. The whole Bon Jour, Y’all thing will be immearsurably worse by me only being able to hear about of the letters they actually bother to say. I have the little things like petit is “petit” for femine nouns and “peti” for masculine. but is voiture pronounce “wa chure” or “va chure” and if i say one will the poor Parisan understand of after a couple of “pardonnez-moi, je ne comprends pas”s will they say in exasperation, “Say it in English!”

This is how the deaf learn French. Painfully and slowly, but even I cant half hear it, I am excited about the journey! and the trip to France, too, if it ever happens. next to learn the street names and locations in the city, and then how to say them. It would be nice if we actually make the trip. In fact, if you have any tips about where to go, what to do, (obviously, we will go everywhere “you are supposed to go” but beyond the cathedral, the museums and so on) for those of you who know, tell me.



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