When I was teen-ager, I wanted to be a polyglot. At that time, California high school systems generally offered only two or three language classes, at best, and being the bright-eyed youngster I was, I took what was available. Not all at once, but just enough to really confuse me. Out of the three languages, I found French to be the most difficult; hence, only one semester. German was the easiest, with its clean, crisp syllables and easy to order syntax; Spanish was easy for me because I was surrounded by it. French, on the other hand, was difficult to speak; however, because of it’s Romantic roots, it was similar to Spanish and therefore, easier for me to read and comprehend it that way.
Fast forward 35 (or so) years, and I’m in a foreign film mood. Thanks to Netflix mail service, I can watch a bunch of those. I’ve always liked the music from “Un Homme et Une Femme” so I figured it was time to watch it. The director’s narrative form was mostly visual and I found this incredibly interesting. But what I found more intriguing is that I understood the language a lot more than I ever thought I would. Now, I’m not saying I could go to France and not be recognized as the American that I am, nor could I carry on a conversation with the locals. I was just surprised that I was able to notice a difference in the subtitles and what was actually being said. Translation, versus what is literally being spoken, is for the experts. So when the subtitles read “Yes, you would” but I’m hearing “Oui, je sais” which is “Yes, I know”, I got all giddy that I could catch that! I guess it took 35 years for my rudimentary French lessons to percolate in my brain and be, if not useful, then rediscovered!