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Back to Work & Musings on the Romance Languages

Posted by on 11 February 2008

After a 5-day weekend (!), it took superhuman effort to get myself to work this morning. My reluctance was partly because of my 11 a.m. meeting with 2 tough (read: unyielding!) Japanese suppliers. At least my morning was off to a good start, with all 3 kids to school and the twins to playschool without any brouhaha.

The meeting went much better than I expected, although I wished I knew Nihonggo so that I could figure out what the 2 gentlemen were murmuring to each other several times during the meeting.

Why, oh, why did I ever go for the Romance languages instead?

Well… partly because I was young, naive and an incurable romantic who thought “Romance” languages meant romantic languages, even though it actually means Romanic languages, i.e. descended from Latin. Hence, for as long as I could remember (or perhaps, ever since I first discovered romance novels), I’ve always wanted to learn Spanish and/or French one day.

But actually, it all started when I was at the Ateneo de Manila University and had to choose which foreign language to take: Nihonggo, Mandarin, German, Spanish or French. Everyone was required to learn a foreign language, irregardless of their major/concentration.

Mandarin and Nihonggo were out, as I didn’t want to deal with any new alphabets, on top of grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation.

I wasn’t attracted to German for some reason. It was out, as well.

That left Spanish and French.

My friend, Joey, told me he was taking up French. I asked him why French, when it’s supposed to be a heck of a language to learn, due to the pronunciation and conjugation.

“Simple,” he said, “coz French makes everything sound so cool. Mes chaussures son propres. That sounded real cool, right?”

It sounded like: Meh shos-yoor sonh prop-h. Whatever it meant, I had to agree with him. It did sound cool.

He smiled and said, “I just told you that my shoes are clean.”

I ended up taking Spanish anyway, as I was too chicken back then to tackle French pronunciation and conjugation because I knew that a lot of Spanish words are exactly the same in Tagalog and Cebuano (or very similar, with slight differences in spelling), and I thought to myself, at least I’ve got part of the vocabulary one less thing to worry about.

But I never ever forgot the clean-shoes-thing-with-Joey incident. So when senior year came and I had an extra 3 credits, I decided to use it up by taking French. And how I loved it! In fact, I loved it so much that I eventually attended French language classes at the Alliance Française Kuala Lumpur for about 2 years.

But that’s another story that will have to wait for another post. My lunch break’s almost over :(

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