24 May 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Parlez Vous?

I had an idea for a BTT question when I was taking a peek at one of my bookcases yesterday and spotted my old copy of the Aeneid in Latin sitting there. Maybe this question has already been done — but if not… Do you have any foreign language books and if so can you (still) read them?
My answer to the second part of this has to be a giant resounding NO. I am deplorably monolingual, despite the best efforts of my primary school and high school to make me otherwise. Spanish, French, Indonesian ... I displayed not the slightest aptitude for any of them. (Which is frustrating, as I have no trouble picking up new words of English.) Perhaps it’s the foreign grammar that trips me up, or maybe I wasn’t trying that hard. I’m one of those people who need to keep a French-English dictionary on hand to deal with anything more complicated that a mon ami or c’est la vie, and one of my pet peeves is long, untranslated sentences in Latin or French or whatever, from authors who take it for granted that their readers will understand.

As for the first part: I do have a rather elderly novel that came from the estate of my late grandmother ... written entirely in Dutch. God only knows what possessed my father to bring it back from Sydney with him as he should have known I can’t read a word of the language. Perhaps the appeal lay in the fact that the title character has the same first name as me. It’s still sitting on the living room bookshelves and I have absolutely no idea what I’m ever going to do with it.

I would love to know another language; that’s on my list of things to do one day ... eventually....

7 comments:

Chris said...

The Dutch book would make a good conversation piece, like "Why do you have that?!"

meowminx said...

I agree with Chris ^_^ I think it's wonderful to have inherited a book with the title character's name the same as yours :)

Mine can be found here :)

teabird said...

I agree about the Dutch book as a conversation piece. It would be fun to goof on people - "it's a cookbook," "I used it for my nuclear physics class" - that sort of thing!

tanabata said...

At least the Dutch book has some history behind it which makes it fun.
I'm usually ok with untranslated bits of French in books but I totally know what you mean. Once I was reading a book and it had so many Spanish words without any clue as to what they meant that I eventually gave up reading it it was too frustrating.

Literary Feline said...

I agree that the Dutch book could make a great converational piece. :-) I'm terrible with languages too. :-(

kat said...

I can pick up words but when it comes to using them, I get them all mixed up. I pretty much go with everyone's opinion that the Dutch book's a good conversation piece. :D

CoversGirl said...

Since everyone thinks it would make a good talking point I should probably dig it out from under the pile of books stacked on top of it. If I can't actually read it, I might as well get some use out of it!

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Header image shows detail of A Young Girl Reading by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, c. 1776