Sunday, February 04, 2007

Sunday Scribbilings: Goodbye

I haven't participated in a Sunday Scribbling in a while now, but here goes...

My French class this weekend was wonderful--challenging, but not at all scary. A difficult combo to create as a teacher, I'm sure. We learned many different ways to say common phrases, including "goodbye" and "to come".

"To come" has a remarkable number of French translations. There is one word for return as in to come back to, another for return as in to go back to where one started, another meaning to go back inside... and on and on. It made me realize how much of speaking and understanding any language is in the context in which the words are used. English might have fewer words for "return," but I doubt any native English speaker would have to think twice about what I meant if I said, "My dog returned to me with the ball in her mouth."

The variations on goodbye taught me a different lesson, one that I also learned in my first MFA residency: how the tone of the words you choose to give your characters helps define them. For example, someone who says "Later" is probably a differnet kind of person and/or has a different relationship with the listener than someone who says "Until next time". Best Blogger Tips

11 comments:

January said...

Language provides lots of those subtle nuances for writers to use. Interesting post, Bug.

—Later!

GoGo said...

This reminded me of the like conversation...

"Do you like her or do you 'like like' her?

:).

~gg

Gel(emerald Eyes) said...

Enjoyed the language nuances you wrote about for this prompt. I majored in a related field.
Nice to meet you via S.S. :D
P.S. My idea of a perfect day is also to sleep late and with my husband.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I love how languages are so different in this way and in fact any translation is just an approximation. Good post.

paris parfait said...

That's one of the things I love about European languages - so many nuances, which somehow sound more interesting than in English! And of course in French there's "formal" usage and "informal" usage. Always an adventure learning a new language!

gautami tripathy said...

I know 6 Indian languages. all different sounding yet similar...

I liked your very different post..

Tammy said...

Welcome back! Very interesting take on the theme and very true!

Becca said...

I find it fascinating the way nuance and context can change the meanings of words. Some languages are so much more intricate in that way than others, making them a true challenge to learn.

Bonne chance avec Francais!

tania said...

you've just described part of why i love the french language so much, that in addition to it's ridiculously complicated grammar and pronunciation, it seems to have allow more words for different nuances of meaning.

i like german for that too, as if you want to express the emotion of two different words, it just allows you to stick them together.

i've started doing it in english too. i mean how else do you describe something that is "cheesyweird" without putting those two words together?

Thanks for the comment on my blog and good luck with the french!

tania said...

oh yeesh, i just realized how might have sounded.

just to clarify, i wasn't describing your blog as "cheesyweird" it was just an example of two words i've stuck together in the past :)

DJPare said...

Yeah, the one who says "until next time," is a stiff!

Tres bein, CJ!

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