Except not quite.
As I mentioned in my first post, although I am a Translation major (English-to-French), I don’t intend for this blog to feature translated content—not for the most part, anyway. Still, I feel as though it’s only fair I should introduce the blog and its linguistic premise in both languages. For one, not doing so would seem sort of rude; plus, I’m a rather self-centered individual, and as such, I tend to seize every occasion to write about myself and the reasons I do the things I do.
So. The bilingual thing.
A friend once called me a “secret francophone”, a turn of phrase I find at once quite cute and fairly representative of the kind of self-image I’ve tried to project in English-speaking circles for a while now. I’m a born-and-raised francophone from Montreal, PQ. Like most French-speaking Québécois kids my age, I started ESL classes in the third grade, when I was seven years old. For years, English was primarily a source of mid-level anxiety: I was very self-conscious about pronunciation, grammar, spelling—all of it, really—and I wasn’t getting the amount of practice required to actually get better. Then, when I was 12, I spent a school year in an English “immersion” program, which helped a lot with the confidence issue. From then on, I was, for lack of a better word, hooked.
I consumed a lot of English media in the years that followed—movies, music, blogs, etc. I also started talking to myself in English when I was alone. I’d reenact conversations I’d had in French and try to translate them into English, or come up with new, fictional exchanges from scratch. I’d practice whenever I was (relatively) alone, which was often on my walks to and from school and, eventually, my part-time job. It must’ve looked pretty weird, but I was getting better.
There was a thrill, I soon found out, to being able to “pass” as an anglophone, even if it was just for the first few minutes of an encounter. I still wonder why that is. I suspect there are a lot of underlying problems to that question. I still feel the thrill from time to time.
In any case, I graduated from high school, then Cégep, with high marks in both English and French. I took a job where I had ample opportunity to speak (and write) the two, and I did. I was starting to feel quite bilingual. Parallel to work, I went to university in French (first for philosophy, then for translation). I met my partner, a New Englander who didn’t speak much French and introduced me to his friends from Nova Scotia and Ontario, who in turn introduced me to more Montreal anglophones. Meanwhile, I continued speaking French with other close friends, with family and with colleagues. Today, I’d say my life is about 50-50: half-English, half-French. It’s a little weird sometimes, but I like it.
One thing I’ve always liked is writing. I get to do it quite a bit these days, between school and work. Another thing I’ve always liked is having a text-based blog. I had a whole string of them back in high school (including some almost entirely dedicated to terrible teenage poetry), but as an adult, I’ve had trouble getting started again. The main issue, I came to realize, was that of language: I couldn’t choose for the life of me between English and French.
In the end, I didn’t.
Thanks for reading,