Culture gaps


On the beachTwo little misunderstandings that happened on two different blogs, just because of a culture gap. No matter how long you’ve been speaking a language, there are always littles stories or songs or fairy tales that you haven’t been exposed to when you were little.
When my daughter was born, I found that I was totally hopeless at teaching her the songs and rhymes that every French child knows. Just because my mother was born in Poland, speaking either Polish or Russian or Yiddish, she didn’t teach me those songs and rhymes, and I never went to school until I was seven, so what I would have learnt there, just passed me by.
So I bought songbooks and cassettes, and taught Julie and myself the songs and rhymes that make you a French speaking child.
To come back to my original subject, the other day, I posted this photo of an elder at my French blog, with a caption that said: Anne, ma soeur Anne, ne vois-tu rien venir ? (Anne, sister Anne, do you see anyone coming?)
Anyone brought up in France, at least in my time, or who is my daughter 😉 would know right away that this is a line that comes from Barbe-Bleue, (Bluebeard), a fairy-tale by Charles Perrault, and would probably even know the following lines. But not my English born friend who commented, saying that she didn’t know I had a sister. 🙂
I changed the caption on my blog, since I aim at being understood!
wcs.jpgThe funny thing is that on that same day, I had the same experience at Walt‘s blog, with a post entitled Help Me, Mr Lizard The title was cryptic to me and even more so the tagline that said
Drizzle, drazzle, druzzle, drome, time for this one to come home ! Nothing that rang a bell. I googled it and landed on Tooter Turtle at Wikipedia. In this case, another of Walt’s readers, too young to have ever seen Tooter Turtle made Walt give precisions.

Tooter Turtle was a short cartoon back in the days before your parents were old enough to date. In each episode, Mr. Wizard granted his wish to be somebody he was not and it always ended badly. He yelled, “Mister Wizard, help !” and Mr. Wizard would bring him magically back to safety and scold him for wanting to be other than what he was.

Culture gaps are not quite as common as new words, in my experience, but they are just as enjoyable.

4 thoughts on “Culture gaps

  1. How true, Claude! I’ve found the same — even among English-speaking people. George Bernard Shaw
    said, “The English and the Americans are two people separated by a common language.” and how right he was! We all bring different things to the banquet table of life!

  2. Funny that you should post about this today. My daughter just told me about a friend of hers who was in a business meeting in France. The speaker was trying to talk in English, and to start the meeting he said:

    “You must focus”…….but the way he pronounced it made it sound like a word we use here for fornication. She said the Americans in the group almost fell off their chairs because they were laughing so hard. Too funny! I would have peed my pants!

  3. I know that I miss a lot in conversation, movies and tv because of references to literature and childhood stories that I’ve never read or heard. Oh well, it makes each day a learning opportunity.

    And if that doesn’t sound like something my parents would have said… Help me, Mr. Wizard ! 😉

  4. Yes, you do miss out on a lot if you have never learned childhood tales and rhymes. We were taught one or two children’s songs when we started learning French at school (aged 11) and I’ll never forget ‘Il etait une bergere’ but there’s still an enormous gap.

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