Me Talk Pretty One Day (apologies to David Sedaris)


Me hablo bastante un día.

Me parle assez un jour.

Mir reden ziemlich 1 Tag.



The four phrases above are the title of today’s post, replicated in the four languages taught at IUSB through the magic of Google Translate.  I specifically used Google to do the translating work because all our language professors encourage us to not use it.  They want us to avoid using these translation programs because they might assist us in getting the words “correct,” but in doing so, we might entirely miss the sense of the words, the actual idea we are trying to get across. 

Today’s post shares a title with a great essay by David Sedaris about his adventures in France, where he went to live for a month in order to learn the language.  There’s video of him reading an excerpt of the essay here.  You can buy the book of essays by the same name here.  Yes, it’s funny, and I’d hazard a guess that there are some events he has even exaggerated to heighten the comic effect.  But buried in the laugh track is the idea that, in order to really get French, he wanted to become immersed in the culture  of France, not just the language.  Does this sound familiar at all?  This is one of the goals of our study-abroad summer semesters.  There is an idea that a language (or even a dialect of a certain language) is really nothing more than a culture expressing itself in sound.  After a summer abroad, every language class you take back in the ‘friendly confines’ of an IUSB classroom will be filled with the smiles of the people you met while you were there, every word you look up in your dictionary will carry the scent of the air and the food you breathed and ate.  That’s the only way I can think of to really truly talk pretty.


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