After our quick jaunt in Paris, my two charges and I returned to Tours for my director’s choral competition. One of his original compositions was entered into the Free Expression category of Tours’ annual Music festival, so we spent the rest of the weekend attending concerts all over town and visiting a few of Tours’ best sights.
While the Doctor and Marcus stayed in a hotel downtown, I went back whenever I could to spend time with my host family, but it was really difficult to balance running between the two groups all weekend. As a member of my French family, I’m hesitant to leave the home for long periods of time. I entered into a family relationship, not a lease, and I want to honor that contract by being present as much as possible. I don’t have much time left to be with them, and I don’t want to leave France feeling like I abused their hospitality. At the same time, I needed to host my colleagues and ensure that they had an enjoyable vacation in Tours.
But, alas, I made it through the weekend on a few hours of sleep and a lot of espresso. On Sunday evening, the gentlemen left Tours for Spain and I returned home to spend one more night with my family before moving on myself.
That last night was wonderful-we all went over to our neighbors’ house and spent the evening drinking rum and having what I’m sure was the greatest ping-pong match France has ever seen. We discussed the language-learning process and how some things just don’t translate between languages-like curse words and idioms. Just as with Anglophones, different generations of French-speakers have different ideas of what is proper and what is vulgar language, and it was hilarious to hear Laurent and Mathieu battle it out over various slang words. Language is always evolving, and even ten years’ difference can be enough to completely reverse the connotations of some words. In modern English, some of the better known examples of this are the meaning of the word “gay” from “happy” to “homosexual”, or the word “cool” from “aloof” to “neat/good”. I can’t think of any specific reason why these definitions would change so drastically, but it’s been recorded in nearly every language, culture, and time period known to man.
Call me a nerd, but that’s cool.