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Yet by that point, his total time spent studying French as an adult amounts to not much more than a year.
That period of time may have hardened into an iron convention of the book-length self-improvement stunt, but it hardly suffices to get to grips with a foreign language: could Alexander really have been expected to attain fluency even if he’d spent the whole year in Paris?
Alexander’s linguistic memoir comes off as pitched to middle-aged men like himself, with its looming threat of a catastrophic cardiovascular event and laments for yearnings so long stifled by the demands of education, profession, and family.
Collins appears to aim for a readership of her fellow thirtysomething women, francophone or otherwise, eager to compare notes on the transition from one stage of life to the next.
“People choose a language for the same reason bank robbers rob banks: because that is where the money is.
There may be people who learn French to take up Mr Macron’s offer of the chance to study in France.
Whatever the limitations imposed by his age, his day job (as an information-technology director at a psychiatric research institute, which puts him in convenient proximity to the f MRI machine), and the nature of his book project, his near-lifelong idealization of France — or rather, of Frenchness — surely made the task of learning French that much more daunting.
No such obstacle for Lauren Collins, a now Paris-based contributor to (2016).
The ambitions of French-learners, seemingly more often than those of other language-learners, go beyond mere communication.
But there will be many more who learn English.” Having survived decade after decade of the America-dominated post–World War II global order, French may indeed look a bit worse for wear, cluttered with sometimes risible English loanwords and dismissed as useless by the increasingly many students who pass it up in favor of Spanish and Mandarin.
Yet however many now regard the French language as little more than a fussy antiquarian hobby, as many others continue to revere it.
: though I’ve never formally studied French, I’ve had that phrase stuck deep in my linguistic consciousness since childhood.
So, surely, have most Americans of my generation, hearing it as we all did over and over again for years in the same television commercial.