3.21.2007

I speke French gud

Today I met with the director of my program to review the first two chapters of my thesis. And in not so many words, he told me that, while the content was strong, my written French makes me sound like a hillbilly.

This of course, sent me into a downward spiral that went from "la la la, I like the skirt I'm wearing today" to "to HELL with this language AND this country! ... ohhh shiiiiittt... what will become of my FUTURE!?!" This spiral took all of three seconds. And if you've ever studied a foreign language (particularly in a foreign country), you know how delicate a subject this is.

Being good at French grammar is a little like hitting a bull's eye with a dart when you're drunk. You know what you're there for, you're trying your best to play the game, but in the end, it's a total crap shoot. You could totally nail the subjunctive on one page and three pages later get it all tangled up again. Teachers tell you that there is no logical way to get better at grammar once you're at a certain level, though reading lots in French and surrounding yourself with French speakers are two ways to passively soak up the use of prepositions.

Guess what. I'm in a full-immersion program and I've had to read 1600+ pages of French literature this semester. Bite me, French teachers.

I have always felt strongly about doing my own work as well; though I had a French boyfriend for a while and still have numerous French friends that I could ask to look over my papers, I refuse because I know I would feel like a sham. If I'm going to go through the trouble of doing graduate work, I feel like I should, well, do the graduate work myself. Maybe this sounds prissy or snotty; I don't really care. There are certain things that I place importance on in my life and representing myself fairly in my work is one of them (adhering to the immersion pledge in a full-immersion program that is costing me 35 grand while 99% of the other students chat away in English is another one).

So now here I am, in my bed, after a good cry about the fact that I write as if I chew on straw for a living, about to tackle the long job of making these changes. Because if there's anything I can't resist, it's someone telling me I can't do something. And I guess I just have this idea that if I can pull this out of my ass, if I can correct the mistakes and maybe even figure out how to make less of them, I'll feel justified applying for a PhD next year. Because if and when the big "Dr." title ever comes into my life, I want to know that I earned it.

If it doesn't, at least I'll always be able to fall back on the less sophisticated, yet more accurate, "French grammar's bitch."

1 comment:

Leigh said...

Darling- Whenever the Germans told me I had the grammar skills of a toddler (which was bascially every day) I would re-read some Sideris, and feel a whole lot better:

http://lostvirtue.livejournal.com/107584.html