⪧ We left our life in New York City to make a new one in Provence ⪦

September 21, 2008

Sacre Coeur

We went to a Joly family soirée last night - a gathering of cousins. It was in the 18th arrondissement. Sacre Coeur loomed. (Featured here as the sun was setting and then after).

It is funny how things shift in a foreign experience. Six months ago last night would have been really tiring for me. It is a tricky thing to be an extrovert unable to play. I felt that for a long time in France - I was never the one telling jokes in parties or social situations; in fact, I was never the one even getting the jokes. I felt like I was with a stranger - and not a very funny one - myself.

But last night, I realized that it happens underneath you and then you are standing on it. I laughed at jokes and got it all and often forgot that French was being spoken all around me. One of Xavier's cousins who hadn't seen me for a number of months couldn't believe that my French had come along as it had. I suppose it is inevitable, but you don't see it as it happens.

We were talking about it and I remarked that it is funny how a personality changes in another language. I, of course, have felt like I'm sometimes timid in French where I would never be in English and I listen much much more (which is a forced blessing for everyone). But it goes deeper than that. I told everyone that Xavier is different in the two languages as well and I imagine it is a common experience for people, even when they are fully bilingual. A language carries different possibilities for expression. In French, Xavier is almost brutal - very direct, super funny - cuttingly so and merciless. In English, he is equally funny, but in a very good-natured way. His personality actually shifts.

1 comment:

Jill said...

Emilie, I'm so happy that you are feeling so comfortable speaking in French. It would be a shame if your personality was eternally squelched by living in a foreign country. This was an interesting post and part of me would like to experience a personality changing due to change of language.

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