Me Talk Pretty One Day – Analysis Learning foreign languages is a challenge most people grab by the horn within their life. Struggling and battling the bull is discomforting at first due to ones own insecurity and self-confidence. For a start you will feel unhitched, but if you hook on you will often find success at some point. The reasons for a learning a new language are plentiful: one maybe wants to change his picture of the world, while another might want to seem more cultivated and erudite.
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris is a nonfiction and self-biographical short story based on his own experiences on learning a new language. David Sedaris wants to learn French fluently, which is why he travels all the way to France and not just participating in a long-term evening course in New York. On first day of his French course he feels intimidated by the, as he experiences it, exhibited confidentiality of the other students.
He describes them as superior to him, speaking “… excellent French. ”.
Using a French loan word as an adjective makes the sentence quite ironic and makes it rather an expression of his own insecurity when it comes to speaking French, which is substantiated by his lead up words: “… in what sounded to me …” that clearly supports the interpretation. The protagonist’s/narrator’s sex is not revealed until the third page of the short story, and if you don’t know the title of the book, Short Stories. Brieft Encounters with Comtemporary Nonfiction, it is easy to get the impression of the protagonist being woman.
This is caused by the discomfort the protagonist feels when encountering the fellow students, which is based on their looks. Furthermore the fact that the protagonist is travelling all the way from NY to Paris, le ville de l’amour – the town of love, to learn French, the language of love, makes a stereotypical first impression of a woman. Davids attitude on learning is sceptic, but motivated. He feels vulnerable and is discomforted in class. A feeling he is not alone with.
The rest of the class feels intimidated by the teacher as well. The way the sentences that are spoken in French are translated into English (the words he doesn’t understand is made into Volapuk) gives an impression of him self realizing and exposing his own ignorance – its all double Dutch to him. Even though David struggles with learning French and with the sadistic teacher he keeps his spirit up. He has the willpower to complete what he started; learning the sophisticated language.
Even though the dialogue between him and his classmates has the atmosphere of a “… refugee camp…”, he is able to keep up his motivation if front of the others, speaking a broken French accent spiced by his own personalized word order. This gives the impression of a charismatic man who is not afraid of challenges and who is able to see the long-term perspective in things. The sadistic teacher can be interpreted as a part of his own bad conscience of not being good enough. At start she asks the class if anyone knows the alphabet, where David must confess to him self that he isn’t even able to pronounce it.
Later he gets told off for not knowing the right sex for some specific words. At this point he is annoyed by the strictness of the teacher so he changes the perspective from him self as the bad student, to the language being as a stupid and imbecile language where you address objects as Lady or Sir. This is a classic sign of feeling guilt. The teacher is a language expert, speaking five languages fluently, and she tells David that she hates him in perfect English. It is at this point he starts putting enough effort into his studies that is needed for him to pass the barrier to understanding French.
She is a catalyser for his own motivation. When he suddenly bursts out of his unknowing-bubble by the end of the short story by suddenly understand an entire French sentence he describes it as his “… world opened [opening] up…”. This is a victory for him. All his past struggles has finally transformed into an achievement. He understands the language and hereby understands a wider variety of discourses due to new words and expressions. The linguistic Sapir-Whorf hypothesis says that the complexity and spectrum of language limits ones range thoughts, which limits the ability to understand and increase your worldview.
A famous dystrophic example of this is Newspeak in George Orwell’s 1984 that has the purpose of limiting the people of Oceanias’ thoughts in such manner that they are unable to think rebel thoughts. The thesis can be interpreted the other way around as well: when you learn new languages, or even new words that has a new discourse, which can make you interpret and express yourself in a new way, you are able to delimit your thoughts and hereby your overall understanding and cross a comprehensibility gap. David crosses a minor comprehensibility gap when his bubble bursts – world is open in front of him.
He is able to think differently because of the new language he understands. The new discourses French gives him might help him understand, interpret and reflect in the future because of the new words added to his vocabulary that might contain a new meaning and/or discourse. ——————————————– [ 1 ]. David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day. Line: 12 [ 2 ]. David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day. Line: 11-12 [ 3 ]. David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day. Line: 107 [ 4 ]. David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day. Line: 127
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Me Talk Pretty One Day Analysis. (2016, Oct 29). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/me-talk-pretty-one-day-analysis/