Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Je parle le français... sort of

She lumbered into room 203, in the section of the school we called the "language pod". We momentarily paused from our high school gossip and giggles and cast our eyes upward to check out our new French teacher. There she stood, no more than five-foot-one, plump, and with a glowing grin across her face.

"BAHWN-JOW-UR, class! Bahwn-jow-ur!"

Eighteen young faces stared back at her and every mouth remained silent. This was our French teacher? Her name was Dawnella, and she had the thickest Southern drawl I had ever heard.

"Ah said BAHWN-JOW-UR, class! That means hello." Again, she smiled at us broadly with white gleaming teeth. Her expectant gaze swept across each of our faces; her eyes pleaded for a response.

A couple students dared to giggle. The rest of us attempted to mimic the French greeting.

"Bonjour?", we repeated, more a question than a reply.

Dawnella clapped her hands and bobbed her fleshy head up and down, praising our efforts. I shuffled a bit in my desk seat, picked at some initials carved in the surface, glanced sideways at my friend. She peeked over at me. We stifled our laughter. This was going to be an interesting semester.

We learned the basics of the French language that year, but in a truly unique Tennesseean way. The teacher ended up being a lot of fun, and I remember her fondly. But our French accents? Were nothing short of horrific. No native Frenchman would ever understand our ramblings.

So yes, Je parle le français.... sort of.

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Write a piece of creative non-fiction in which turns of phrase, dialect, slang, or colloquialisms feature prominently.
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