27 January 2010

Lip Reading En Français

So last night, while we were listening to blue grass there was a large group sitting a few tables away deeply engaged in what appeared to be speed-dating (as they all wore name tags and would shift seats each time the buzzer would sound . . . although I never did make out what the dice were for).  But that's not the point of this post (I just found the concept of French speed-dating to be comical . . . we had a whole chapter in our grammar book that used the context of speed-dating to teach us how to ask and answer questions, comme "Where are you from?" "What do you like to do?" "Do you have any siblings?" "Are you single, employed, and rich?" Oh, wait, sorry . . . we're digressing).

The purpose of this post is to rejoicingly state that I was able to read someone's lips last night!  Our table was adjacent to a window, and so it was a nice opportunity to safely people-watch the passers-by.  At one point a small group of friends arrived . . . half from the left, half from the right.  As they were exchanging their bises and ça va's and bon soir's one guy said "Il fait froid!" ("It's cold!)  It didn't phase me right away that there was a pane of thick glass between us and I shouldn't have understood what he was saying.

Because of my background in ASL there was a time when I had gotten quite good at reading lips.  But that's in English, a language I know . . . I know the shape the mouth is in when it pronounces each letter in English.  And yes, I'm studying French phonetics and learning the correct shame of the mouth and position of the lips and tongue when forming sounds, but I get them wrong all the time!!  So to be able to read the words he was saying was definitely a victory!

So here's to lip reading en Français!

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