Saturday, September 25, 2004
...after this message from the Professional Organization of English Majors. (PIANO UNDER...)
GK: I went over to Europe with my family this summer. Prague, Paris, England— I'm a midwesterner and we're travellers — it comes from living in the middle of the country — coastal people expect the world to come to them. In the midwest, we're under no illusions about that. So, off to Europe we went — (BUSY CITY AMBIENCE, TRAFFIC) and as always Paris was magnificent. We walked around the Left Bank and sat in a café on the Rue de Dauphin and ordered an espresso (ESPRESSO MACHINE) and looked around— hard to believe...Paris...full of Parisians— all of them serious, very elegant, very self-possessed.
TR (MINNESOTA): Scuse me...
TR: You got the time?
GK: It's about three o'clock.
TR: Hey. Preciate that.
GK: You visiting here?
GK: You live here?
GK: You do?
GK: In Paris?
TR: Yeah. Right here.
GK: Gosh. I always dreamed of living in Paris someday— how do you like it?
TR: It's okay.
GK: It must be amazing. Restaurants. Movies. Opera. That must be something, to be able to go to the Louvre anytime you want. What's your favorite part of the city? It must be fascinating to just walk around and soak up the sights and sounds— people here really know how to live, don't they — I mean, that is the thing about the French, isn't it? They know how to enjoy life.
TR: Yeah, it's okay.
GK: So you like it?
TR: Oh sure.
GK: What inspired you to move here?
TR: Company sent me.
GK: Oh. What business are you in?
GK: Whereabouts do you live?
TR: Not far from here.
GK: In a house? An apartment?
GK: Probably an old building, huh? With high ceilings and plaster molding and a balcony overlooking a little garden...
TR: Just an apartment.
GK: Aha. How long you been living here in Paris?
TR: Not long.
GK: How long?
TR: Ten years or so.
GK: Ten years in Paris!!! Gosh, You must have all sorts of stories and anecdotes about people you've seen, places you've been... the city of Yves Montand, Juliette Greco, Edith Piaf, Simone de Beauvoir, Colette—
TR: No, not really.
GK: You just came here and worked with soybeans?
GK: I hate to ask this, but — you're not from Minnesota, are you?
TR: Nope. From Cannes.
GK: Cannes? As in The Cannes Film Festival?
GK: You're French.
GK: You sound like you're from the Midwest.
TR: My English teacher was. Ralph Peterson was his name. He was from Willmar.
GK: So he gave you this accent...
TR: Right. Very nice guy.
GK: How long did it take you to learn English from Ralph Peterson?
TR: About two weeks.
GK: I'm not surprised. There's a lot more to English than what you learned from Ralph, sir?
TR: Oh really?
GK: Yes, it's a very complicated language, full of nuance and poetry, with a vast vocabulary, long lists of synonyms but each word with subtle shades of difference—
TR: Oh. I see.
GK: You might want to find a new teacher who can show you other sides of the English language.
TR: Oh, I don't know.
GK: It's a language that's capable of expressing profound depths of emotion — the whole palette of human feeling and experience.
GK: What was Ralph Peterson's background?
TR: He was in soybeans.
GK: I thought so. Foreigners — when you decide to learn English as a second language, don't go to just any American— ask for an English major.
English: it's not just a language, it's a way of life. A message from the Professional Organization of English Majors.