jeudi 1 octobre 2009

More Livemocha-ing

So last night, or this morning rather, I stayed up till almost 1am chatting with someone on LiveMocha. I've been starting to think my thoughts in my head in French and I wanted to say, "I wish I was there already" (meaning Paris). I tried various combinations of different words, different tenses, typed the phrase into the Google and couldn't find anything. I was ready to pull my hair out!

I remembered that a lot of ESL speakers I know get "wish" and "hope" mixed up so instead of "Je souhait..." I tried "J'espère..." which seemed to turn up more search results. I wanted to use "y" for there (assuming I had mentioned already the place name).. anyway, so I came up with "J'espère que j'y ai déjà été" since various parts of the phrase existed in Google, just not the sentence as a whole. I really wanted to know how to say this seemingly simple sentence so I hopped onto LM to see if anyone I knew was online...

Now, I should mention that Australia (well, Sydney) is 8 hours ahead of France which is a bit of a nightmare for me as I inevitably end up staying up till 1am or getting up at 6am if I want to chat to anybody. When the time is mutually agreeable for both of us (eg. 8pm for me and 12pm noon for them) it's still hard for me to 'catch' anyone because most people are at work or having lunch then (and/or afterwards) or busy doing other things.

So it happens that 2 of my 'friends' were online. Now, I've never really used the chat feature on LM. I don't like the interface and as I said, I don't usually 'catch' people and I'm never sure if I am bothering people since I prefer long chats rather than a "Hi bye" sort of encounter. So I messaged one of them and we ended up talking for one hour! I could've talked longer but it was way past my bedtime. It turns out that we're a similar age and work in the same profession. I didn't know this before. It also turns out that both our ethnic backgrounds/heritage are not the same as the one we were brought up on (ie our parents were not born in the same country as us).

So apart from him helping me out with this sentence - which* - I didn't end up practising or using much French at all. His English was really good so we just typed in English and since we're both fast typers, the conversation flowed very easily (as I have found in the past, if people aren't fast typers, the conversation tends to stall and for me, it can get boring).

He told me that he didn't know any English 3 years ago and learnt it from watching films, tv shows and cartoons and memorising lines! Unlike most people (including myself) who think in their own language and translate in their head, he says he doesn't really know how to construct sentences from scratch and somehow just 'picked up' the grammar from watching these shows over and over again and memorising the lines. I'd heard of this with other people but never really thought I'd 'meet' someone who'd learnt a language through this method before.

I found out lots of interesting things about him, and also about Paris (where he lives). So even though I didn't learn much in terms of the language I certainly learnt more about the culture and society in which he lives, and in which I hope to live someday... really soon!

* in case you were wondering, is "J'espère déjà y être" (there are some sentences you can't translate word for word!) (which means "I hope to already be there") or "Je suis impatient d'y aller" and I'm sure you can figure out the meaning of that sentence, with even just basic/beginner French!


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