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Vieraskieliset / In-english

French goes live

Vieraskieliset / In-english
19.3.2019 6.52

Juttua muokattu:

1.1. 12:22

We all need a ton­gue: wit­hout it we could neit­her eat, nor speak. In Fin­nish we use the same word to re­fer both to our phy­si­cal ton­gue and to the lan­gu­a­ge that we speak.

Hu­man lan­gu­a­ge was ini­ti­al­ly spo­ken lan­gu­a­ge. The skil­ls of wri­ting and re­a­ding de­ve­lo­ped la­ter. This may be why it seems ea­sier to le­arn fo­reign words in prac­ti­cal si­tu­a­ti­ons than by re­a­ding text­books. It is cer­tain­ly use­ful to grind away at glos­sa­ries, but words on­ly come to life when they are used. I found this when tal­king to the au pairs we had many ye­ars ago. I gra­du­al­ly be­gan to see how words were used in cer­tain si­tu­a­ti­ons. It was qui­te dif­fe­rent from the text­books.

My wife and I are again spen­ding the win­ter as ”snow­birds” in Nice, and we are ma­king gra­du­al prog­ress with our French. We on­ly meet French pe­op­le while shop­ping or doing ot­her er­rands. If we were wor­king or stu­dying, we would be much more ex­po­sed to this lan­gu­a­ge.

Here are some examp­les of our ”le­ar­ning by doing” lan­gu­a­ge prog­ram.

We were shop­ping for clot­hes in a store with se­ve­ral floors. I was won­de­ring how I could say “up” in French. I chec­ked the word from my mo­bi­le phone and lis­te­ned to how it was pro­noun­ced. We then took the ele­va­tor. We were fol­lo­wed by a lady who was wan­de­ring which way the ele­va­tor was going. En haut, I said, and she un­ders­tood right away. I am qui­te sure I could not have pro­noun­ced that cor­rect­ly if I had not he­ard it from my phone a few mi­nu­tes pre­vi­ous­ly. The pro­nun­ci­a­ti­on got firm­ly roo­ted in my brain. Now I on­ly need to try to re­mem­ber the spel­ling.

One day I was about to share the ele­va­tor with a yo­ung man on the ground floor of our home con­do­mi­nium. We ma­na­ged to un­ders­tand in French that he was going to the sixth floor, while I was going to the third floor – though I must ad­mit we did some sup­por­ti­ve com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on in Eng­lish. He the­re­fo­re en­te­red the ele­va­tor first and I fol­lo­wed. While tra­ve­ling up the two sto­ries, I let him te­ach me one more word of French. There was a text on the wall that said En cas de pan­ne ap­pu­yer sur le bou­ton son­ne­rie. I in­di­ca­ted the word ap­pu­yer, and he pus­hed with his fin­ger. I was ab­le to add one more word to my so­lid me­mo­ry list: “In case of dys­func­ti­on, push the alarm but­ton.”

When we were re­cent­ly re­tur­ning to our tem­po­ra­ry home, we met on the street an el­der­ly man who sud­den­ly stop­ped and sig­hed. Fa­ti­gué, he said and loo­ked at us kind­ly. We could not say anyt­hing in res­pon­se, but the word was fa­mi­li­ar. He was ti­red. I re­mai­ned to won­der if we should have hel­ped him. Ma­y­be I could have of­fe­red him help if I had re­al­ly made an ef­fort with the words. The si­tu­a­ti­on was over quick­ly, but I had had anot­her small les­son. It now ta­kes me less time to call up fa­ti­gué from my me­mo­ry.

Some things are very abst­ract. They may be dif­fi­cult to grasp even in one’s na­ti­ve lan­gu­a­ge. We can­not prac­ti­se such words in our dai­ly en­coun­ters. Even the French, who so pa­tient­ly wait in the chec­kout li­nes in gro­ce­ry sto­res, might not ap­p­re­ci­a­te my ef­forts to dis­cuss po­li­tics with the cas­hier.

It has been said that it is ac­tu­al­ly im­pos­sib­le to trans­la­te bet­ween lan­gu­a­ges, be­cau­se the nu­an­ces of a gi­ven lan­gu­a­ge can­not be per­fect­ly exp­res­sed in anot­her lan­gu­a­ge. A good te­ac­her, ho­we­ver, can make even comp­li­ca­ted mat­ters comp­re­hen­sib­le. Je­sus, our Good Shep­herd, was a mas­ter in this. He used pa­rab­les and examp­les drawn from eve­ry­day life. That al­so helps us when we try to exp­lain faith in a non-na­ti­ve lan­gu­a­ge. Faith is ul­ti­ma­te­ly such a simp­le mat­ter that is best un­ders­tood in the lan­gu­a­ge of child­ren.

Text: Heik­ki Hon­ka­la

Trans­la­ti­on: Sirk­ka-Lii­sa Lei­no­nen

You will find the ori­gi­nal Fin­nish blog post here.


Jee­sus sa­noi: "Jos te ra­kas­tat­te mi­nua, te nou­da­tat­te mi­nun käs­ky­jä­ni. Minä kään­nyn Isän puo­leen, ja hän an­taa teil­le toi­sen puo­lus­ta­jan, joka on kans­san­ne ikui­ses­ti. Tämä puo­lus­ta­ja on To­tuu­den Hen­ki." Joh. 14:15-17

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