There comes a time when even the best of people need to swallow their own words, and as I certainly do not count myself among them, I feel it’s ok to go back on some of the things I have previously declared. As I’m quite anal when it comes to grammar and spelling mistakes, I often look back over my old posts to search out errors to correct; sometimes I find the actual content in need of tweaking, and here are the amendments. I humbly present to you what can only be described as some serious backpedalling…
1. “It’s virtually impossible to give someone three kisses in a cold manner” – Apparently (my Swiss buddy tells me) there is a way of giving three bises but still coming across cold: if you don’t make any sound. I admit to being quite taken aback at this, as I have been giving stonily silent bises from the moment I stepped onto Swiss soil. Had I been inadvertently cold-shouldering every charming Swiss person I have encountered? I hope that my general comportment and foreignness lets people think otherwise. Nevertheless I must be sure to make loud smacking noises with my lips from now on!
2. “Personally, I find the less I speak of a language the more animated I become” – What utter balls. Perhaps I become more animated when I am trying to use my hands rather than my mouth to explain something, but otherwise, it is very difficult to push yourself out of your shell when you are completely outnumbered. At a recent soirée, I experienced for the first time being the ONLY non-Swiss in the building. Though it was a convivial and interesting evening, I was definitely much more of an observer. I couldn’t follow a lot of the rapid-fire colloquial French going off all around me, and as a result (as I swore wouldn’t happen to me), I did withdraw a little into myself. We live and learn, children.
3. ““Malade!” equates to the English “Sick!” though apparently it has to be said with particular emphasis – “c’était ma-lade!”” – No, in fact one can just say “malade”. The special emphasis is a practice peculiar to a specific group of some 10 Swiss boys in Suisse Romande.
4. “I have probably the most neutral kind of accent it is possible to have in the south of England” – Neutral accents don’t exist. This subject has been exhausted, re-ignited, beaten to death, then flipped over and dragged out some more, and somewhere on a friend’s facebook wall is a looong comments-section-debate regarding “neutrality” of accents. The conclusion I drew was that a neutral accent is impossible because everyone’s ear is attuned to thinking their own accent is “neutral” and anyone who diverges from this has an “accent”. But so long as you speak only beautiful words, you will sound beautiful whatever your accent! (No that’s not the fondue, the smell of cheese is coming from that last sentence).
5. “It’s like living in model land” – Weeeeell…not always. That’s all I’m going to say.
6. “Apparently my curt “excusez-moi” and elbowing him off the seat wasn’t enough to deter him” – It would appear “excusez-moi” is far too polite an expression in the context of a drunken imbecile pushing his derrière into you; to use the formal vous form of the verb excuser is unnecessarily polite. Though I was conscious of my choice of language (in the presence of such ill manners, I thought it only appropriate that I respond with exaggerated courtesy), the informal “excuse-moi” would have been better. Or, “Hé, mec! Qu’est-ce que tu fais?” (“Oi, dude! What d’you think you’re doing?”).
7. Jay-walking is not done – Yes it is, by me! Seriously though, people do in fact jay-walk here. Quite alot.
8. Teaching here is excellent – On the whole, yes. But my Ancient Greek teacher and one of my French teachers…well. Let’s just say when I have insomnia, I really wish they could be around. It’s a real achievement to make two of my favourite languages boring though, so props for that I guess… Teaching talent aside, all my teachers have a good attitude at least.
9. Though, let’s be honest, Switzerland’s probably going to be better than England – Oh wait, no. I still stand by that.