Improbable Phrases

Who says that?

Not at all. But I like it.

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When I was in college, I would occasionally have 12 page papers that I was expected to write. I genuinely hated these. Genuinely. And, to add insult to injury, the papers were generally due at the end of the semester. This was a time when I wanted to be DONE. I did not want to write about how Shakespeare’s use of Greek gods in metaphors proved…something I can’t recall now. This lack of love for all things papers would create a problem.  I would procrastinate much longer than was wise to start them.

During my senior year, I needed to be writing about some ESL concept or another. Which, hooray. I was so not starting that little barrel of fun until the day before. Having the patience and attention span of an addled goldfish, I wrote a quarter of a paragraph and then thought: YouTube. I wonder what’s on YouTube. Let’s go watch videos! And so I went to YouTube. And fiddled around looking at things that I had no business looking at whilst I had a PAPER DUE. In the course of things, I typed in “bilingual” (a portion of what the paper was about) and up at the top was a video of Eddie Izzard. My friend Anna had sent me a YouTube clip of him that I had sort of ignored. Maybe I was wrong! Maybe he was funny! Or better yet, maybe he would save my doomed paper!

Which, of course he didn’t. But I do love the bilingual clip.

I really don’t speak French. It’s moderately close to Spanish in the scheme of things, but not close enough to make any sense of it. Not that I can legitimately make any sense of Spanish either. Let’s call things as they are, shall we? But because of the miming, the cognates, and the awesomeness that is Eddie Izzard, this clip works anyhow, and I love it.

There’s something superior-sounding about French, especially to my Midwestern ear. It tends to sound good even if the content is completely ridiculous. The accenting and rhythm of the language is so suave. I currently have a couple French coworkers and even their broken English has this extrasexy tone to it. French is fairly awesome that way. Also, I’m fairly certain that the fact that I cannot understand any of it makes it possible for me to focus only on the rhythms. But it seems unfair to underestimate the way in which Latin-based languages tend to sound smoother than German-based languages. There are fewer vowel sounds and softer consonant sounds on the whole, and that lends itself to a less guttural -sounding language in general. See? I did manage to pull a little bit of something out of my ESL classes. Even if Eddie Izzard was more interesting than my papers.

Oh and this guy, too.

I’d apologize for the sound quality on the clip, but it’s the best of the three I could find. And it’s not so bad that you can’t understand what is being said. Well, maybe except for the French part. But if you don’t speak French it seems more than a little unreasonable to expect YouTube to teach you.

I read:
The Enlightened Bracketologist: The Final Four of Everything by Mark Reiter, Richard Sandomir and Nigel Holmes (Like March Madness brackets, only on more day-to day to day topics. For instance, Animal won as the Best Muppet.)


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