Dear la belle langue française,
My relationship with you, mon amour, has been a bit touch and go from the start. I’ve been learning to speak you for a very long time, around 13 years now, and I can honestly say that in those 13 years, I’ve never actually liked you all that much. That sounds a bit weird, considering I’m writing a love letter to you, but please, bear with me on this one. I’m pretty sure I’ll convince you in the end.
I believe it was Smokey Robinson who wrote “I don’t like you, but I love you” and that is a very accurate representation of my relationship with you, you bloody difficult yet beautifully addictive language. I was lucky enough to spend an entire year living in France, speaking you, experiencing you and your culture, ordering your food in restaurants. I’m the first to admit that I’ve whacked you out at social engagements: who doesn’t find French charmingly attractive? I’ll even let you in on a little secret: 10/10 success rate when I whack the French lingo out.
We’re treated to you in English on a daily basis: “I’m en route to my destination.” “I’m getting an enormous sense of déjà vu.” “I’m a natural brunette, honest.” “These examples are all a bit cliché, if you ask me.” Words like papillon, marguerite, parapluie and pamplemousse, words that don’t mean anything all that interesting, sound so much more enthralling than their English equivalents (butterfly, daisy, umbrella and grapefruit, if you care.) We’ve all seen those BuzzFeed posts about you and the beautiful expressions that we’re lacking in our own tongue but you show off at every given opportunity: << tu chantes du yaourt >> (the inexplicable mumbling that comes out of your mouth when you don’t know the lyrics to a song) and << l’esprit d’escalier >> (the incredibly witty comeback you think of when you’ve already left) being a few of my faves.
Being able to communicate using you puts me up there with some INCREDIBLY cool celebs: Emma Watson, renowned feminist and beloved daughter of the Harry Potter franchise, was born and raised in Paris for a part of her youth. Bradley Cooper, Shania Twain (!!), Eddie Izzard, all members of the renowned francophonie. There’s even a video on YouTube of our good pal Queen Elizabeth giving a fancy ass speech entirely in French. I try and tell myself that all of this means that French is cool, but I’m still not entirely convinced. In all seriousness, I’m incredibly proud to find myself in the same category as these remarkable people.
French, I’ve spent a long time studying you (and even longer complaining about you) but when push comes to shove and all things are considered (look at me, whacking those clichés out again) you are my first love and I don’t think I’ll ever find a love like you again. I’ve tried a brief love affair with Italian, tinkered around with the Spanish language, and even half-heartedly attempted to learn German but nothing quite appeals to me in the way that you have for all these years. You are the French to my fries, the Eiffel to my tower and I honestly don’t know where I’d be without you.