Je Peux Lire
A couple months ago, I started reading the Book of Mormon in French. I had bought myself a copy one day in the BYU Bookstore because I thought it might be fun to have, and when I finished reading the New Testament, I decided, heck, why not? Right away I was pleasantly surprised at how much I could understand, especially since it had been two and a half years since my last French class and I had hardly read or spoken any French since.
I expected to run into a lot of obscure or archaic vocabulary, but it all seemed relatively simple, and I’ve been able to pick up a lot of things just from context and from familiarity with the Book of Mormon in English. The only thing that was a little odd at first was the passé simple. We never really learned it in class because it’s considered a “literary” tense—nobody uses it in speech anymore. But even that was pretty easy to get the hang of, though I had a bit of trouble with fis and fus and vit and vint at first.
Things are getting a little trickier now that I’m getting into the Isaiah chapters, though. Nephi and Jacob are so clear and easy to understand; Isaiah uses very different vocabulary and grammar. Sometimes it takes me several nights to get through one chapter just because it’s such so going.
The sad thing about this whole experience so far is that it hasn’t improved my speaking ability at all. My pronunciation is still terrible, and though I recognize most words when I see them, I still have trouble thinking of the right word when I’m trying to speak. But I guess I’d have to actually, you know, speak it for that to change.