Maybe it's a language thing?

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

parchment, paper, type font, green, definition, durable

I come from a bilingual family. Growing up, I’d speak French with my mom and English with my dad, went to school in French and was part of a youth orchestra in Ottawa (mostly anglophones). Hence, I did read Harry Potter in English and speak it fluently, but I had what some people called “a cute French accent” till I was about 14 and decided to get rid of it. 

But this bilingualism thing made for some very interesting conversations now that I think of it. When I was hanging out with my friends at school, we’d be gossiping about who had a crush on who and so on. So when I hung out with my anglophone orchestra buddies, we’d do the same. But sometimes it just came out wrong : “So do you think he has a kick on her? He was totally cruising her!”. See, in French “un kick” is slang for a crush and “cruiser” is slang for flirting. Now that I think about it, it must have sounded very violent and weird. But I didn’t know better and was sure what I was saying was clear. I mean, they were frenchified English words after all. 

It’s only an example of many awkward things I said and I learned English teenage slang the hard way. But it just goes to show how good intentions can go awry. Even during orchestra rehearsals I managed to say/do the wrong thing. As you may know, musical notes aren’t called the same in French and in English. So when the conductor would say the high C in the violins was out of tune, I would play a B (si - which incidentally sounds like C).

I’m kind of hoping now that it would explain many environmental and social blunders and mishaps. What if it was a language thing? The mind wanted to say one thing, but brain just used the wrong words. Instead of “We’re cutting the Katimavik program”, maybe the budget was actually saying “We love Katimavik and will be investing into making it awesome”.

Here's to hoping that this time it was just a translation thing.

~kath - campus sustainability coordinator
photo credit - jonathan rausseo

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