I woke this morning, after a long night, feeling fortified linguistically and ready to write.
Maybe its something about the fact that I should now be in France & my French cerebellum has been called into action. Maybe its a message from my ex & much rated French teacher, praising my writing on this blog. But whatever it is I've been dreaming in French and words are tumbling in my brain; questions and curiosity, so here I am.
As a child I was taken with one of the Beano, comic cartoon strips, called the Numskulls, about a team of tiny human like technicians live inside peoples heads, running and maintaining their bodies & minds. This concept has stayed with me & I often revisit it when considering my response to modern foreign language, in particular my beloved French.
I imagine those little creatures rushing round the filing system trying to find word equivalences or reorder the tenses. Opening half forgotten or newly filed drawers and seeking communication. Maybe Ive always been fascinated by words & communication, because whenever I use this example people look sympathetic but a little confused by this childhood analogy. Whether they don't remember, think its something of childhood or simply don't relate to it I usually get the same look. "Bear with her, she must have a serious point & the point is" the look says. Well maybe that's just it you have to have that interest in words, that fascination with communication to get it.
Wordsmiths, of which I wish I was one, have a compulsion to create, to express & to understand, which is why the very best of them hold us transfixed, rapt in the story, ferried away to another land of imagination and inner experience. Even with the marvels of cinema and computer graphics & all actors skills, direction, photography & tricks , it is generally the inner pictures which is what we run when we hear a book title or read a play review. From Alice in Wonderland & Wind in the Willows to The BFG and The Hobbit, its those early mental images that first come to mind. They may be superseded by the amazing coloured cinema graphic images, but we each have our first and unique internal magic show that shapes our understanding & ever influences our thinking.
Have you ever read a book & uncertain of the pronunciation of a characters name, just skimmed over it, you know who or what they are? Its only when someone else says the name differently do you think, oh right well, no problem, the gist of the text is in the writing, the meaning, the pictures, name pronunciation almost an irrelevance. Well maybe its like that with the Hollywood interpretations; sometimes they enhance the internal cinema show and other times they just get filed under 'alternative views'. The very best, like their writers. are so accurate, so spectacular, that what is projected is almost raw, straight from the imagination of that writer.
That's why I don't get book reviews, critics or book clubs. That's why I don't feel the need to untangle questions in a group,like some extended A level project or read to a schedule. Why to I don't want or need to be told what to read or what is good in my reading, what not to watch, what not to participate in. I know some people want to be abreast of the times, know the latest novel by certain authors, have seen the latest play or film and have an after dinner sound bite phrase, but they obviously never read the Beano.
The question is what would the Numskulls have done? We have to filter, interpret and communicate with ourselves to understand. It may not be the best, or accepted or deepest understanding but its ours.
So early this morning, body screaming for sleep, my internal word filtering was up & running; what's the meaning of this in French, why phrase it like that. Sometimes I just wish they'd give it a rest stop endlessly seeking, solving enquiring, but do I really. Maybe that was why I studied psychology BEd, looking for Numskulls, seeking answers. Who knows but those childhood wanderings have never left and I hope the never do.
And the point of this? Where's the Frenchness? Where's the story? Well its all in a word or maybe a phrase.
My French teacher, a skilled wordsmith and communicator, wrote about 'on verra' (we will see) in her latest piece. A new phrase to me I looked it up and considered how I might apply it & my dictionary made a clear distinction between' we will see' and ' 'We'll see' ...nous verrons or on verra. Now the point here is not is which is correct or applicable or even usual its about communicable. So do I instruct the boffins in my brain to research & store academically or simply consider and move on? As a child if I asked if we could do something or when something would happen or what if, the common adult response was 'we'll see, perhaps'. A point of great frustration, because it usually meant no, but held no certainty and because internally the Numskulls said, "What? Now where does that answer go".
So in my early morning mental ramblings my inner child came to the fore ,the generality, the communication, the understanding that's what's important with words. After all, as Wordsworth put it, ' The Child is the Father of the Man' and he was some wordsmith.
Now let me guess what's in your head now, don't tell me daffodils, peut etre? Well now it is , 'on verra'!