I’m easing myself in so rather than doing something that might immediately put me off- like having to make an actual effort on my part- I’m instead listening to the practice CDs that came with my learning pack, while I’m doing the ironing. My plan is that this will give me a feel for the language and remind me that there is a big difference between an actual French accent and my version, which is closer to ‘Ello ‘Ello than Jean de Florette.
At first the man and woman on the disc seem to be barely introducing each other before they’re swapping phone numbers. This seems reassuringly French to me, clearly I bought the right leaning course. None of this “Please may you direct me to the nearest dry cleaners” or “Le singe c’est dans l’arbre” rubbish. This gets straight down to business, “This is my name, call me.”
Then I realise that the CD is focused on numbers so I probably shouldn’t read too much into it. A little disappointed, but I try to concentrate. Now they’re going through the French for first, second, third etc.
For those of you who didn’t achieve a grade B in GCSE French 19 years ago, let me explain that in French after premiére (first) the following positions are basically the number with iéme,- troisiéme, quatriéme, cinquiéme etc. Get it? By the time the couple on the tape got to around fifteenth, I pretty much understood the formula, but they went, and on, and on. I began to expect that they must be leading up to an anomaly. For some reason forty-eighth would buck the trend and be structured entirely differently. But no, they continued going through all the numbers following the same pattern until by soixante-cinquiéme I was shouting, “Ok, I get it, just add iéme, I get it, stop this now”.
They went all the way to the hundreds. I now suspect they were making a point. You ridiculous English with your st, th and nd. It doesn’t have to be that way, look how simply we French with our vastly superior language do it – look and learn cochon anglais.
Well I’ve just got one thing to say to you, smug French CD couple–gender specific pronouns. Who’s overcomplicating things now?