This morning I went to meet some other au pairs for a chat on the grass in front of the Eiffel Tower. As not everybody has reliable French phones the trend is to meet at a certain time in front of a famous landmark, although as I found out on Tuesday this doesn't always work. I waited in front of the Notre Dame for about fifteen minutes then had to leave as I was accosted by a man who was either trying to sell me Lessons in Sodomy or Lessons in Sardonnia (I'm not sure which as I wasn't looking for lessons of any kind, sexual or geographical, I thought it best to politely decline and run away).
Today I finally managed to be at the right place at the right time and I met up with three English girls and we had a nice chat. One thing that came out of the chat is that I am being paid a ridiculously low wage; most au pairs get about 80 euros a week, plus their own apartment and food and Metro pass. I am getting 40 a week, plus grated carrot and 'mixed grain', so I will have to get my thinking cap on.
Before I came here I was like 'Oh it will be fiiiine, I won't be a slave to consumerism anymore and I will get by on not very much lalala...'
Now I am here I want cocktails, make-up and some freshly baked macaroons in pretty colours.
After lunch (balls of potato), the dad went over my latest essay with me. He didn't understand it really beacause my grammar is awful and for a lot of words, if I don't know the French for them and they sound kind of French, I just use the English and add an accent over the 'e'. Sometimes it works but most of the time it doesn't.
But look at all these words that don't mean the same in French as they do in English, even they are real French words. They're called false friends and they really aren't my friends as they keep ruining my essays:
I like writing essays normally and it's very frustrating writing them in French because I'm so bad. The dad keeps saying that things wouldn't be correct in English either which is annoying because I know how to write in English. I was trying to say how sometimes in English I will use odd sentence- structures for effect but he wasn't having any of it.
Look at these two sentences for example (can I just say they are both bad sentences but I was translating them into French and obviously I am not very good at translating so I have to use simple sentences):
'Plays must contain drama, or tragedy, or comedy, or all three.' and
'Plays must have drama, tragedy, comedy or all three.'
I know the first sentence is grammatically incorrect but I can't explain in French why it reads better than the second. The second sentence is a statement of facts whereas the first sentence sounds like somebody pouring their heart out.
The dad said that my sentences are too long and that I need to learn how to let my essays 'flow'. I felt like muttering 'I've got flow mister, I've got flow all right, just you wait and see...' but I didn't because it doesn't really make any sense.
I've always been a fan of long sentences though, I live for long sentences! I've been reading my dissertation to make myself feel better, lingering over the long sentences. Stop reading now if you get bored easily but here is my one of favourite long sentences from my dissertation:
Having considered Barea’s view of Lorca’s gypsy poems it could be asserted that a modern, enlightened reading of The Gypsy Ballads wrongly ascribes to Lorca a more altruistic view of the Romany people and that perhaps Barea, a product of the same time and country, assumed correctly that Lorca simply used them as a poetic device.
Ah... I never thought I would get sentimental over grammar or vocab but it is hard when people assume you are Very Stupid when in fact you are Reasonably Intelligent. But can you blame people? If someone came up to me in England and said 'I go use the kettle?' or 'He say it to be good?' I would think they were a fucking idiot as well.
The silver lining my friends is that now I can't articulate myself properly I am probably coming across as quite normal!