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Essay on "Me Talk Pretty One Day"

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Essay on ”me talk pretty one day”

The essay “me talk pretty one day” is an essay written by David Sedaris and published in 2005. It is a expository text about David’s, the author’s, own experiences with learning French in a foreign country and the essay deals with themes such as the attitude towards leaning a foreign language but also that you have to understand the language, before you can speak it.

In the essay, the writer David Sedaris shares his experiences with learning French at an international school in France. His first encounter with the strict and yet quite sarcastic French teacher tears down his walls of self-esteem and belief in himself throughout most of the time he spends in the class, because he and his other classmates can not speak the language fluently. In time he becomes more and more frightened that he might say something wrong and he even stop taking any contact with people because he dread anything that requires speaking the language.

The students in the class are not fluent in French either and their halting sentences sound like “Sometimes me cry alone at night” (p.8, line 109) and “[…] someday you talk pretty” (p.8 line 109-110.) The author understands his fellow students, although they do not speak fluent French, but when his French teacher talks in class he does not understand half of what she is saying, for instance: “Even a fiuscreza ticiwelmun knows that a typewriter is feminine” – (p.7, line 71-71) This tells us exactly how the students of a foreign language would speak and it clarifies the difference between speaking a language so that other can understand you and actually understanding the language. Understanding and speaking do not always go hand in hand, but it is better to understand than speak. And this is the point the author is trying to make; that no matter how bad things look, success might be around the corner.

The tone in the text is subjective and informal because David shares his own experiences and the text focuses on him from the very beginning “at the age of forty-one, I am returning to school […]” (p. 6, line 1). The essay is written in an everyday language, which apply to every kind of readers. Another tone that is used a lot is the humorous and sarcastic tone, which helps to make the text funnier and lighter to read. He uses figuratively language to describe his experiences, for instance: “[…] Front teeth the size of tombstones” (page 6, line 34)” and “it’s everybody into the language pool, sink or swim” (p. 6, line 16). This helps the readers make a more vivid image of the situations. David Sedaris also creates this ironic distance to the uncomfortable experiences by adding a humorous tone, for instance: “[…] after being singled out as a kfdtinvfm” (p.9, line 90). This use of meaningless words helps lightening the experience for the readers, because it does not seem as serious, as it might have been and the readers might even laugh about the incident that might not be that humorous when it happened to the author.
The informal tone used in this text makes it easier for the readers to identify with the author and the humorous tone helps maintain the reader’s interest.

David’s attitude towards learning the language changes throughout the story. At first, he is very excited and curious about learning, but after the French teacher tears him down on the first day, he loses every kind of curiosity, he becomes scared of the language, and of saying anything, because he starts focusing on every little mistake he makes instead of leaning the language. “Before beginning school, there’d been no shutting me up, but now I was convinced that everything I said was wrong” (p.9, l.100-101).

In the text, it is described that the foreign students stand together against the teacher and that they are all feeling the same way about how it affects them that the teacher is so cruel. It means that David is not alone. As a reader, you can almost get the assumption that a war zone is being described, where they have to prepare for any attack that could hurt them in an emotional way. “We soon learned to dodge chalk and protect our heads and stomachs whenever she approached us with a question” (p.7, l. 84-85). In the end, David suddenly experiences that he can understand every single word that his teacher says to him. And he feels rewarded, although she said it to insult him. “[…] I settled back bathing, in the subtle beauty of each new curse and insult” (p. 9, line 124). He sees the light and gains new curiosity and lust for learning the language.

The essay, in my opinion is an entertaining peace of work. The use of humor and everyday language makes it easy for the readers to identify with him. Although it is an autobiography, describing the life of the author David Sedaris, it could be compared with a short-story because it is written in such a vivid language, that the readers almost feel like they are there, watching the French Teacher mocking the students. I think that the point in the story is that you can not learn a language from one day to another. In order to learn to speak the language, you have to understand it. You have to understand the people and the culture, because language is so much more than just words. It is about how you express them and what they can do to other people.

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