Thursday, January 18, 2007

Family Tradition

My grandfather was a brilliant man. He was knowledgeable on many subjects, and was particularly interested in foreign languages. He started teaching my sister and me to speak French at a very early age, writing the words out phonetically in a small spiral 3-ring notebook.

Both of my grandparents would sprinkle into conversation the occasional word or phrase of whatever language they felt was appropriate: French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, German, you name it, you might have heard it.

They travelled Europe fairly extensively after retiring, bringing us girls back small goodies. We would meet them at the airport back in the days when folks still dressed up to travel. Skirts and ties and smiles all around.

It is with Grandpa in mind especially that I chose the class I am taking this semester: French II. I haven't taken francais since high school, when I excelled at it. It was my favorite subject through the years. But Madame G would be sorely disappointed to discover how little I've retained.

I managed to place into French II by virtue of an on-line exam, but after the first class last night I wonder if that was such a good idea. Verb conjugation may be the sticking point.

But last night in class I could hear Grandpa singing opera and quoting Shakespeare and Grandma's cheerful voice calling from the kitchen.


BerryBird said...

Ah, I was wondering what you had decided. Grandpa would be happy to hear the news. I found one of those phonetical french notebooks somewhat recently and the spellings are hysterical.

Those airport trips were so exciting back in the day, when we would go right down to the gates and wave to the planes as they taxied away. Kids today can't have that experience, although I suspect a much higher percentage of them get to actually fly on airplanes than when we were kids.

Coffeypot said...

I speak two languages: English and Southernese.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Awwww . . . what a sweet post.

Graham has decided on Spanish next year. I LOVED French and was once fairly fluent especially reading, but I have literally lost it all, or almost all. I hope it works out and you anjoy it and are able to keep up.

Unknown said...

Hi. I just wondered over from Nicole's (Crazy enough to try)blog. I took a lot of French in school too and wish I had kept up with it. Maybe you'll inspire me to buy some software for my computer so I can relearn. Good luck! Sounds like your grandparents were pretty cool.