Sunday, 16 February 2014

I Got Here By Language

It's late now, even the hockey game is over, and with my friends Mark and Carmen I've had enough wine for four or five, but the day began under a near-full moon, just as it was over the beach at Puerto Moreles a month ago, when we were saying "Wednesday, I think" or "looks pretty full tonight" or "the ocean looks it full". This morning before light, as I was saying, I muttered something in Portuguese to the taxi driver, enough to get me to terminal dois for my 07:00 to Madrid, on which the flight crew (one of whom seemed to be, judging from her failure to understand any of the systems on board without the help of crew-mates, undergoing severe on-the-job training (this discount airline so cheap they don't spend money on training)) spoke Portuguese, English, Spanish in that order. From Madrid to France it was Spanish, English French, in that order--pause here for me to insert this quote from the seat-back in front of me: "tray table should be stowed in the upright position whilst landing" (and how I've loved to tease my students who use "whilst" or "amongst")--and here in Toulouse, in a series of cafes and restaurants it was, of course, French, but English if it had to be.
I'm amazed I know as much French as I do. In high school, now 50 years ago, the French teacher, Mr. V.,  was a buffoon--at least, we treated him that way. One year we did have a proper teacher--a brilliant teacher, in fact, Mr. G., who was actually French. My French is still better than my Portuguese, though recent time in Mexico (and even the stopover in Madrid) and Portugal have interfered plenty with that old French sense I seem to have.
Anyway, vin is vin. Vinho is vinho, as we say in Lisbon.

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