Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Puhutko suomea?

I am super excited - while walking back from the bar this weekend, I discovered that the Finnish Cultural Institute is just a few blocks from chez moi! If I decide to stay here next year, I will definitely be signing up for classes. I used to speak Finnish fairly fluently, but since I have a one-track mind and have been concentrating on French for so long now, I've lost almost all of it. I'm pretty sure it will come back pretty quickly though if I start taking classes - it's gotta be hiding somewhere in this nob I call a brain.

I was never really a fan of French, so it was never a language I wanted to learn - but I didn't really have a choice in the matter after moving here! But Finnish on the other hand - now we're talking. It's such an interesting language and is purportedly the 4th most difficult language to learn, after Japanese, Chinese and Russian.

The only sad thing is that now I've lost my Finnish accent. Since I grew up hearing it, it always came fairly easy to me and I didn't really sound like an American when I spoke it. It was the only foreign language I'd ever learned though, so when I started learning French, I had a really hard time because the sounds are just so different. But now my ear has been trained for all the French nasals, and I can't pronounce Finnish words without sounding like a French person! But who knows, maybe that will come back too after a while. And just in case it doesn't work out here, there are also classes available in Minneapolis, so at least no matter where I am this fall, I know I'll likely be studying Finnish a few nights a week!



Blogger Rebecca said...

That's so cool that the Finnish Cultural Intitute is so close and accessible! What a find! I had a Spanish accent when I started trying to speak French. You'll eventually stop sounding like a French person in Finnish. I love the fact that both of us thought there was no point to giving French a second glance until we moved to France. So different from the standard francophile-moves-to-France profile!

June 4, 2008 at 11:18 AM  
Blogger joy suzanne said...

Cool! You know, I have a friend who is fluent in Italian because she was an exchange student, then came back to major in Spanish and spoke that with an Italian accent. Not an American accent. So weird!

Everyone tells her that it sounds like she's from Argentina when she speaks Spanish. I guess because there are so many people of Italian decent in Argentina.

Did you start off speaking French with a Finnish accent, maybe? Then French trumped Finnish?

June 4, 2008 at 11:26 AM  
Blogger Jennie said...

I've always been fascinated by Finnish. It sounds so cool and it's ridiculously hard to learn. There are just so many vowels!

I speak German and Dutch with a French accent. ::sigh:: But not Italian, surprisingly.

June 4, 2008 at 11:56 AM  
Blogger The Late Bloomer said...

Yeah, I'm one of your standard francophile gals, so I guess my experience was different in the sense that I was already in love with French before I moved back over here, but I understand that desire to learn another language... I've been struggling to learn the basics of Japanese over the past 2 1/2 years, but I've just been the WORST student, not reviewing the vocab. and rules often enough and sticking to my guns like I planned to do in the beginning... I'm lucky to have even had the opportunity to learn the language, but with once-a-week hourly classes, you can only go so far -- I'm a firm believer in intensive classes that force you to study harder, so this system just hasn't gotten me to be disciplined enough. But maybe that's my own fault, too, because I've allowed myself to be distracted by so many other things!

In any case, very cool about the Finnish Institute! And great that you'll definitely be taking classes there, one way or another.

BTW, looking forward to seeing you soon here in the région parisienne! Maybe at K&K's picnic next weekend?! :-)

June 4, 2008 at 12:33 PM  
Blogger Leah said...

When I first started learning Spanish in 9th grade, I definitely spoke with a bit of a French accent since I had started French 3 years before, but it did eventually go away. Except for when I studied abroad in Spain and was in phonetics class one time and I came across a word I didn't know and I tried to pronounce it all frenchified and the prof asked straight out if I spoke French. But, at the same time, I had just spent 4 months in Rennes studying abroad, so I think I was just confuzzled. In high school, I did also once try to turn Spanish into French by saying aprender(apprendre) with a French accent. Besides those two times, I really think it helped me having the two languages which is why I want to learn Italian. I'm lucky to have the language ear, I need to take advantage!

Not sure what my comment had to do with anything you said, I apparently just wanted to share. Oh and I did want to say that now that I speak French constantly, when I went to Spain last year for a few days, I def sounded French. But, I think with time, it all comes back. Language classes sound fun!

June 4, 2008 at 1:20 PM  
Blogger The Bold Soul said...

Hey, I just sent your blog to my Finnish friend, Ulla, who lives here in Paris and just married a Frenchman. She might be coming to the K&K picnic on the 14th so you will have someone to practice your Finnish with!

June 4, 2008 at 3:08 PM  
Blogger Justin said...

No fair! I want to learn more languages. I have aspirations for after I am better in French. I will probably try German next since it seems more logical in my field, but I also would love to learn another language like Danish or Finnish.

June 4, 2008 at 5:20 PM  
Blogger parisiannewyorker said...

I've been told that it is perfectly normal if you speak 2 languages (one native, and one that you learned), when you learn a 3rd language, you will almost always speak it with the accent of the 2nd language that you learned.

I hope that made sense.

See, I think this only proves that contrary to popular belief, lots of Americans (or anglophones) do speak other languages. Maybe not fluently, but a lot of people do have a basic grasp of at least one foreign language. Most of my friends here in NY are bilingual because their parents or grandparents are from another country. But I don't know - people tell me NY is not like the rest of the US.

Anyway, have fun with the Finnish classes. I just love learning languages - I did 2 months of German in Vienna and was learning Italian before I left Paris. Finnish seems like it would be a lot of fun - I think Finnish along with Hungarian are two languages that aren't really related to any other language groups.

June 4, 2008 at 5:45 PM  
Blogger Leesa said...

Oh... That's cool! I didn't realize you even spoke Finnish... I am a firm believer that languages lay "dormant" in your brain somewhere until you pick them up again and then they start to come back.... French was like that for me... I think it helped sans doute... that I studied the lang. when I was younger... and for about 5 years... For Spanish.. My Spanish accent is much better than my French accent.. ohhh... if I could just remember my Spanish.. cuz now when I start speaking Spanish, the words come out in French... So, I
"think" in French when trying to speak in Spanish.. Weird...
Take care, Leesa

June 4, 2008 at 11:55 PM  

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