Sunday, November 21, 2010

Wolof v. French

Today I started a three day intensive French class at the Peace Corps center in Thies. Holy crap do I need it. My French is appalling, an insult to all native French speakers, and I'm absolutely shocked that people put up with my terrible grammar and still pretend to understand me. I haven't taken a French class since high school and it shows. While the vocab and comprehension (hey, I watch a ton of soap operas dubbed in French) is there, the grammar and fluidity in speaking is without a doubt not.

I initially wanted to take the class because when I did a three day Wolof intensive last January I felt awesome about myself afterwards; that is not going to be the case after this class. I rarely speak French at site because I'm super self-conscious about it. Walking around in Thies most people assume that I'm French, until I open my mouth, because I'm white so they expect me to actually speak French. Because I'm white I should speak perfect French, but Wolof is a whole other story. No one expects the white girl to speak Wolof so when I do I get major props and when I make mistakes no one cares because I'm trying and the white girl can string together a conversation in Wolof. Plus, Wolof is just not that difficult. The sentence structures are simple and circumlocution is recommended. French, on the other hand, is very difficult and has lots of rules. So, over the past 14ish months I've spoken Wolof because it helps with my relationships with Senegalese people and because I feel less self-conscious when I speak Wolof than when I speak French, which is weird. Regardless, the class is awesome. It's taught by my favorite/ the best Peace Corps language instructor and Jackie is in the class with me.

Other than that, I'm counting down the days until Thanksgiving, so I can count down the days until the All-Volunteer conference, so I can count down the days until Artisan Expo, so I can count down the days until AMERICA!!! I also got into a big fight with a gas station cashier when she refused to check us out because she was digesting her lunch. Jackie will confirm that I ranted in Wolof while eating a half eaten ice cream bar as Senegalese men backed me up and kept repeating that all they wanted to do was buy some diapers. I'd say that's par for the course.


  1. We are officially at the 30 day mark! One measly month. Hopefully all the turkey you eat on Thursday will have a calming effect.

  2. Happy Early Thankgiving Alyssa! America, and I, miss you mucho! See you sooon!