It’s no secret that I am a francophile and an ardent supporter of the French language. It is of course my bread and butter, but my love for the French language goes much beyond that. I find myself constantly enamoured by the nuances of the language and am known to wax eloquent about every new idiom I learn.
English, a language I love (my first love really) is my lingua franca and the language I am most likely to speak. I am known to do to it what I blame others of doing. I accept strange structures like simply accept by clicking here and don’t even blink any more when people wrongly use would instead of will or the ubiquitous continuous tense in Indian English. But woe betide the person who does the same to French.
My friends, exasperated with my obsession with the language often wonder if I should still tell people that I also have a Masters degree in English Literature. One such friend asked me why I love the language so much. I suppose he expected me to give the usual replies –
- It’s a beautiful, lyrical language.
- It’s the language of love.
- It’s the language of literature.
- It’s the language of fine cuisine.
or even the very obvious:
- How could I teach the damn language, if I didn’t love it?
It is all of that of course – I can not deny that it’s one of the most beautiful languages. I love how everything sounds so beautiful in French – even the curse words don’t sound harsh. But what I am learning to appreciate more and more about the language is its correctness.
I love that the French have managed to hold on to the correct way of speaking / writing in certain circumstances. Elitist as it may sound, I am weary of the liberties we take with English, allowing native influences to take over and twist the Queen’s language into something that is often not excusable in the name of evolution.
The French language has also evolved, influenced by the languages of their colonies and English of course, but when it comes to formal correspondances, they have refused to compromise. It’s easy (relatively) for a writer to sound beautiful and write long passages with alluring descriptions. But how often do you receive an email from a receptionist / clerk which is written in flawless, beautifully correct English?
Compare these two replies I received to a query about the availability of rooms in a hotel:
“Thanks for the mail and we are pleased to inform you that for 10th & 11th of July presently we do have the rooms available.”
“Comme suite à votre courriel et après échange avec ma collègue XXX du service de l’accueil, je suis en mesure de vous confirmer qu’une chambre double pourra être mise à votre disposition du 21 au 29 octobre 2016.”
While polite, the first reply made me cringe because of the grammar. The second, probably written by somebody with a similar level of education, is in perfect French. There isn’t a single comma or conjonction out of place and the sentence flows as as exquisitely as the Loire.
Tell me, if all your formal correspondence were as beautifully composed, wouldn’t you end up falling in love with the perfection of the language?
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