Pardon My French

My first French lessons were ballet terminology. This taught me such useful phrases as “step of the cat” (pas de chat), “circle of the leg” (rond de jambe), and “step of the horse” (pas de cheval). I also learned that sissonne means scissors and fondu means melt. And I learned all of this terminology from a woman who had trained with the Royal Ballet Company in London. Yes, she had a classic Received Pronunciation accent. The words may have been French, but they came out with an English accent. And while knowing ballet terminology is useful when one is doing ballet, it is not terribly useful when it comes to having a conversation.

Naturally, I decided to take French in high school. But when my French really started to improve was when I simultaneously took independent study Spanish from a teacher who happened to speak French fluently. Even though I was supposedly learning Spanish from her, we communicated in written French. (I even answered at least one oral quiz question in French without realizing it until she looked at me and said, “Now do you want to say it in Spanish?”) My Spanish was never great, but it sure helped my French!

And then I went to college. And not just any college. A college with the opportunity to study in Italy. The rules said that you either had to take at least one semester of Italian before you went or one while you were there. It seemed silly to me to wait, so freshman year, I took Italian 101 first semester and Italian 102 second semester. And I lost any ability I’d had to speak Spanish. But French still came in handy. My professor was from the north of Italy and had this habit of comparing Italian grammar to French grammar. My notes were written in three languages: English, Italian, and French.

And then I actually went to Rome. And I used my Italian. Occasionally I found cause to use my French while I was traveling in other countries, but I wasn’t as immersed in the sound as I was with Italian. Needless to say, my French started to atrophy.

This is a long way of saying that astute readers may have noted that my replacement for the word “team” regarding the roles Heather and Nicki will play in the delivery room was in both French and Italian. As I was writing up my birth plan, I thought I should double-check my phrasing.

So here is their official title. They are my corps d’accouchement. A phrase entirely in French.

P.S. I start having individual appointments with the midwife next Thursday. Hard to believe I’m far enough along that I’ll be seeing someone weekly!


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