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Language party

From Silly Linguistics Issue #5 October 2018

By Alexandra Gough

The way I see it, French is a bit like the person who organises really sophisticated parties. ‘We put the passé subjonctif là, et the passé simple là…then there’s room for the wine in the middle.’ It’s not an interesting party. Swiss French is in the corner, trying to explain that he isn’t actually French, he just looks like him.

Quebecois French is there but he was only really invited because he was a cousin (French finds him a bit embarrassing), and Belgian and Congolese French and the others are only there to be polite- they’d rather be off with different languages, really, but French made everything Facebook official so they felt a bit awkward about abandoning him. Maghrebin French keeps trying to sneak in through the window and French keeps pushing him out again.

Then, suddenly, English crashes in, six-pack in hand.

‘Alright French?’ He slurs. ‘Wow…you’ve got all the tenses, haven’t you? A place for every word and every word in it’s…yeah, that’s something. But I’ve had this idea…why don’t we leave all this here and go to the pub? We’ve got some vocab from the Normans, and the Anglo Saxons left us some pretty strong verbs, and the Vikings…well, I’m not sure what it is. Think there might be fish in there. Anyway. It’s going to be really fun. Forget the tenses, we’ll just keep past and present and a bunch of modals and busk it the rest of the way.’

‘Well, thanks, English, but I’ve got it all planned out, you know…Latin had a party just like this it once…’

‘Come on, American English is on his way, Singlish and South African English and New Zealand English are meeting us there, and Indian English too. Australian English is bringing a few Aboriginal words along, and Caribbean English is bringing the music…you like Caribbean English, don’t you? All the patois are at another party but they said they’d drop in. They really miss you, you know. And Dutch is only next door.’ Quebecois looks up, alarmed.

‘Is Canadian English going to be there?’

‘Well, yeah. But between me and American English you won’t have to talk to them.’

‘Bah, alors, I had everything planned out-’

‘Come on, what’s the harm?’ French looks around, and realises that the other languages are shifting and twitching, ready to go out and take on the world.

‘Fine. I’ll stay for one Weekend and le shopping. But after that I’m switching to baladeur.’

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