It has come to my attention that the French language is far more difficult for me to understand than I had earlier imagined. My mouth is not properly configured to speak, nor are my ears constructed to hear, the sounds unique to the language. While I’ve always taken pride in my ability to say words in Spanish with the proper accent (whether or not I know what they mean), I cannot say the same about French. Frequently, when I try to speak French words, my mouth releases noises wholly unlike the sounds I hear native speakers making. When I attempt to mimic those sounds, my diction is horrible, as if I were trying to speak English backward with a mouth full of marbles and glue.

In light of my inability to master even the basics of the French language through effort and practice, I have no other choice than to resort to cheating. So, I have decided to swallow a special green capsule, if I can find it. The capsule, when taken with sufficient quantities of wine or absinthe, modifies one’s brain, ears, vocal chords, tongue, and lips, imbuing them with the ability to work together to speak and understand French. The difficulties with this solution, aside from the ethical issues, reside with the scarcity of legitimate pills, the abundance of counterfeits, and the outrageous costs of both. When last I resorted to taking a special capsule (I purchased a dull orange one with the intent of speaking Arabic), the damn thing turned out to be a fake, for which I had paid one hundred thousand dollars and change. I should have known to verify its authenticity before completing the transaction; the first time I bought one of the capsules (a canary yellow one with the promise of fluency in Vietnamese), I couldn’t even get through the menu at a Phở restaurant.

Given the sometimes dubious nature of language capsule sellers, my quandary is whether to launch a global search for an affordable pill of the proper shade of green or simply go back to square one and try, again, to learn the language through practice.

Que devrais-je faire?

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Unutterable

  1. Ha! I love it: “…in Spanish, you pronounce everything while in French, you pronounce nothing…” Yes, that’s it!

  2. Petit Jaime says:

    As a student of both Spanish and French, I can tell you that they are polar opposites of the same coin… Can I mix my colloquialisms like that? Who cares?!?!? I’m going to… While they are both rooted in latin and, in the written form look VERY similar, I can say that when spoken they sound nothing alike. My common-man description of the difference between them is that in Spanish, you pronounce everything while in French, you pronounce nothing… Since you’ve more than likely spoken Spanish since you were but a wee youth in the south of Texas, it make sense that it’s difficult for you at this age to attempt something completely different, at least from the standpoint of pronunciation… But I say, keep at it, amigo y bon chance!

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