I am taking French classes after work. In Canada, it can pay to be bilingual. Our teacher focuses on teaching us vu and tu, the French versions of you. During the break, I ask her a few questions on when to use vu and when to use tu.
"Ah yezz." She nods understandingly. "I know lot of people used to English cannot understand zis. In English you have only you. In French, you have two levels of you. Sometimez you say vu, other times it is tu."
"Yes," I impatiently cut in, "but my question ..."
"Is I know hard." She continues obliviously. "In French we have two levels of you. It is hard to comprehend, I know."
"Ma'am." I replied quietly. "I am Bengali. In Bangla we have THREE levels of you. (Aapni, Tumi and Tui - corresponds to aap, tum and tu in Hindi/Urdu). So I can understand TWO levels perfectly."
"Oh." The French teacher's pride in her language was punctured. "I see."
I walked back to my desk, chest swelling at the marvelous Bengali language. Another student seated next to me, a Chinese fellow, leaned in and whispered. "Interesting. Do you know in my dialect, we have thirteen levels of you?"
Tags: French Bengali