My father was born and raised in north Louisiana, my mother in New Orleans. Those two facts mean that I am a curious combination of redneck and coonass. Well, that’s not exactly true. On my mother’s side, it’s part Cajun, part Creole, part German immigrant. My father was pure redneck.
I lived in an American suburb, and so I spoke American. My mother’s relatives spoke American, too, but some of them also spoke Cajun French and what can only be called “New Orleans-ese.” (People often think New Orleans is a southern city. People are wrong. New Orleans is a Caribbean city.)
I did take some French classes in eighth grade; I particularly remember learning the “audio-lingual method from Harcourt, Brace and World Incorporated” because you had that marketing line on all the tapes you had to listen to. And you memorized conversations:
“Bonjour, Jeanne. Como vas tu?”
“Tres bien, merci. Et tu?”
“Pas mal, merci.”
(I probably have the spelling wrong, but we learned to say it, not write it.)
In 9th grade, I took the first of two years of Spanish, and learned the same conversations with the same method. Then I wandered off into two years of Latin.
My wife, on the other hand, took French, and still remembers a considerable amount of what she learned. And my two sons both took French. Our family has this game, or actually, I have this game, in which I totally mispronounce French like I was a redneck trying to speak the language. “Tres bien” becomes “Trez bean,” for example. Drives the entire family crazy. I love it. I learned it all from watching Miss Piggy on The Muppet Show.
Over at Green Inventions Central, L.L. Barkat has started a language game, of sorts, but a little more highbrow than “trez bean.”
Take an English word (words), translate into French, and then write a line of poetry at the TweetSpeak Poetry game page.
I’m going to try it, and hope that I don't embarrass myself too badly. Take a look and play along.
Mercy (merci?), this could be very trez bean.