Thursday, December 5, 2013

Finals and Frisbee

I took the oral half of my French Pronunciation and Phonetics final today.

People always tell me that, since I studied in France for a month and I've been taking French classes for years, the oral exams should be a piece of cake for me. And I would be inclined to agree, except for that the exams don't just include talking.

There are way too many rules about how to pronounce things in the French language. I mean no offense-- I love French a lot, but I'm getting rather exasperated with all this nitpicking.

Like, the rules for liaison. In some instances, you're supposed to squish two or more words together so that there's no break between them and the sentence flows more smoothly. In other instances, you are absolutely forbidden to squish two words together and you must let a break exist between them. And in still other instances, the squishing together of words is completely optional.

That part bothers me the most. Why is it optional? If you're going have all these rules, why not just have a right and wrong way to say things? At least I can't get the optional ones wrong on the exam, right?

Wrong. We have to read most sentences twice, once with the maximum number of liaisons possible and once with the minimum.

There are plenty of detailed rules about when the liaison is obligatory, forbidden, and optional, and naturally, there are exceptions to the rules. The rules are hard enough to remember when I'm scrutinizing sentences with a pencil in my hand, marking all the different types of liaison. They're much harder to remember when I'm reading aloud.

I feel like my oral midterm was kind of disastrous (I don't know because I'm too afraid to look up my grade). My problem, aside from having not memorized all the liaison rules, was that I launched into each sentence without looking at it first. It's like sight reading a piece of music for an audition without taking your given time to look through it first- not a good idea.

This time I forced myself to slow down and think about each sentence before I read it aloud. There's really no room for error because I was speaking into a microphone and my professor will be able to listen to the recording as many times as he wants. I'm not sure if I did any better than I did in the midterm. I felt okay as I left the office, but you never know.

It was a fantastic day. The weather was between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit all day, which is definitely NOT supposed to happen in December. I wore shorts and a t-shirt. It was awesome. As I exited the foreign language building and let the beautiful outside air wash over me again, I felt a sense of complete freedom, and I suddenly knew exactly what I wanted to do next.

I wanted to play Frisbee on the quad.

If you've followed this blog for a while, that probably doesn't surprise you. If you're a newcomer, then suffice it to say that Frisbee is one of my favorite pastimes ever. We have a big, treeless area on our quad that's perfect for tossing the old Frisbee around, and I take advantage of that perfection pretty frequently. I have a light-up Frisbee so that I don't have to stop playing when night falls. I brought a Frisbee with me to Europe and played at least once in both France and Ireland. It all started in high school, where there was always a Frisbee flying around the band room. It just makes me happy.

You know how they say "It takes two to tango"? Well, it also takes two to play Frisbee, and the combination of my busy schedule and my friends' busy schedules has led to very little Frisbee this semester, which is a crying shame. I'm so glad I found someone to play with me today. It was such a good way to unwind from my final exam, and it was good exercise, too!

Maybe I'll have Frisbee therapy sessions on the quad next week so people can unwind after their finals.

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