Sarah and I have been taking French lessons through the City’s Continuing Studies program for the last few months. The progress is slow, but I’m definitely starting to pick up some of the finer details that help to turn a conversation from ‘Quoi?’ to some basic level of understanding.
The details in some cases are truly subtle though – at least, for me – and often come a little too late.
Take this example, Sarah spent a good portion of Friday with a bad bout of dizziness. After I got home, I popped over to the Pharmacy and said:
Ma femme a des vertige. Avez-vous medicaments pour les vertige?
Whatever I had said was clearly wrong. Yesterday our class focussed on medical ailments, and I learned that the correct form is actually:
Ma femme a les vertige. Avez-vous medicaments contre les vertige?
Apparently, instead of asking for pills to prevent dizziness, the small change in words actually meant:
My wife has a fear of heights. Do you have any pills to make her dizzy?
Now, knowing why I got that particularly strange ‘I will not be an accomplice’ look from the clerk, I think I should be better able to avoid the mistake in the future.
Next step: Pronunciation. I really need to get to the point where I no longer walk into a bar and ask for a pint of butter.