Thursday, July 16, 2009

My American emotions

Yes, yes and yes again. I think English or rather American is an emotional language. I hear a lot of French people saying American is an easy language, not complex enough to be very subtle, and so on...

Well that is just wrong. It is wrong because when you know this language deeper you discover its wealth of subtlety. I do believe American language plays really the role a language should play : It's a way. A way to express the more accurately possible what we think and feel in order to socialize ourselves.

And I think it's a generous language, really not proud. It may sound like an odd statement but when I think about my own language, I see it as something that has its own identity, almost independant of people, althought it doesn't exist without us. It's that kind of pride, these embellishments...

When I'm angry, I speak English. When I'm happy, I speak English. When I'm sad too. When I speak to animals. When I hurt myself. It comes from deep inside of me and it's activated by the emotion itself. It's pretty natural to me. And it has something to do with the strengh and emotional power or relieving power of words.

It may be hard to understand, but when I'm late for an appointment, looking for my keys in the appartment, eventually find them, run in the street, miss the bus then take the subway, then realize I forgot the file I needed for this appointment, I can only say "FUCK !!!". It's not elegant, no. But just saying "MERDE !!!" wouldn't be enough you see. Because it's a bit too far from what I really feel at that moment, it's too weak. Although the English word is perfectly balanced because when I say it, I express my emotion accurately enough to start thinking in a smart way even if, I agree, I'll still be 1 hour late.

I also noticed how our senses are part of the language in English. For example, if you look at a wedding picture and no one is smiling on it, you can say : "They don't look very enthusiastic !". You use the verb "look" because it's through your sense of sight that you can say so. Then, if your sister calls you and talks with no energy or happiness about the party she's giving next week, you can say: "You don't sound very enthusiastic !". You got the point.

In French, we use (too much) our sense of sight. We say "tu as l'air..." which is "you look..." in many situations, even on the phone, because the body doesn't have its place in our language. Although, that's through our body first that we apprehend the world around us.

Let's take all this a step further. I think that everything is related and seeing the relations between elements is interesting and necessary. So my point is that if Americans are tactile it's partly because of their language. The straightforwardness of it, its closeness to emotions and feelings and physical perceptions of life make people more tactile. They need to feel others around them, welcome them with a word and a hug. It's important.

How can you possibly feel alive and close to people with a language far from your own emotions ?

I can't.


  1. It's perceptions and reality again, I think. In the U.K. we tended to think that the French were very tactile...the handshakes, the cheek salutations....but it seems to me that that is not the case. We also have the notion of French as the language of love...but love is boundless and the language doesn't have it..again, to me and I do know French language and literature well.
    I am most interested in your point about language and emotion...French language seems to keep life at a distance, English embraces it.

  2. Exactly ! You're right and I love your last sentence. That's what it is. Thank you for adding the notion of French as the language of love. I didn't think about it until you mentionned it and it's very interesting because it's mainly through our culture and history rather than our language itself that this notion appeared into people's mind, not only strangers.

    I always appreciate reading a comment from you because you give your point of view and thoughts and definitely bring something to my article. Thank you for this.

  3. Very nice and informative blog you have here. Good work! And I followed you to keep up with your post.

    See you around my friend.

    Steinar Arason
    "Improve Your Blog"

  4. u have right..
    also I will say like u about my language. (romanian)..hihihi
    nice blog ..Ș)
    u can visit mine also and subscribe on follow like I did..thx again

  5. Louise,
    I've enjoyed reading your blog. Im currently researching for a French character in my novel. I can truly grasp the cultural differences between Americans and French so thank you.

    I noticed you had several TED videos and touched on the American education system, which is in the midst of failing us.

    Could you tell me how the French education system is different? What are the end values in the system, and what is the ultimate skill a student should gain from an education in France? You can email me.

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  8. Thank you all for your nice comments !
    I didn't write a lot lately, just added 1 post in nearly a month but I'm glad you enjoy reading this blog and share your opinion with me.


  9. I've enjoyed your comments on the American language. More so because I have a love of the french language as you do ours. When I'm in love I speak french, when english won't do to express something I use french, when I speak to my dog in that cute baby talk I speak in french. I think we all take our own languages and cultures for granted, until someone from the outside appreciates them for what they are. Thank you.

  10. It changed into very beneficial for me. keep sharing such ideas inside the destiny as well. This become genuinely what i used to be searching out, and i'm satisfied to came right here! thanks for sharing the such facts with us.

  11. Amazing blog and very interesting stuff you got here! I definitely learned a lot from reading through some of your earlier posts as well and decided to drop a comment on this one!

  12. Nice post, things explained in details. Thank You.

  13. What you're saying is completely true. I know that everybody must say the same thing, but I just think that you put it in a way that everyone can understand. I'm sure you'll reach so many people with what you've got to say.