J’articule my thoughts

Geraldine Gras

Hi everyone,

For my second blog post, I was inspired by a TED talk presented by Jamila Lyiscott entitled “3 ways to speak English”. Her words echoed in my head and I let myself free-write. Now, unlike Jamila I’m not an author, nor a poet or some kind of composer. I simply enjoy rhymes and non-academic line order. Biensur, il fallait écrire en franglais – parce que je veux communiquer not just with you, mais aussi avec vous.

The queen’s articulate.
Her use of English language is effective.
Time after time following language directives.
“Julie est articulée” est mon commentaire indiqué.
Mais qu’est-ce que ça signifie être articuler,
dans un monde au métissage langagier?

Selon mes anciens professeurs,
être articulé est synonyme d’être éduqué.
Yet, our world is not the same anymore,
Languages, like reading, go beyond the classrooms and bookstores.

From Montreal to Saint Marteen,
my English is way too clean.
Celia et moi on parle français,
but English always finds a way.
Moi je ne parle qu’un anglais,
parmi plus d’un, elle ne cesse de naviguer.
Elle chante les paroles de Work de Rihanna,
pendant que moi je chantonne des “la la la”.
She talks to me, like me, one moment,
then comes another social component,
I lose all sense of conversation yet I’m present.

“You’re English is very articulate.”
It fits the mould that schools dictate
Une bonne prononciation,
Sans oublier l’orthographe, attention!
Il semblerait qu’être articuler signifie parler comme le modèle indiqué
mais qu’en est-il de bien communiquer?
See our world is changing,
speaking a language is one thing.

Speaking a culture is another.
Échanger avec autrui sous entend,
Qu’on le comprend.
Afin de communiquer,
Il faut s’adapter.
Observer le décor,
Before establishing a rapport.
That’s how I perceive the term “articulate”,
far away from the term “educate” and close to “relate”.

Oui, Julie tu es toujours très articulée,
Selon nos manuels et textes encadrés
but I must change my comment,
as what I truly meant:
“Julie emploie correctement la langue française en se basant sur les règles grammaticales et syntaxiques étudiées”.
Et pour toi Cé,
Thank you for being so articulate,
Adapting your use of English so I can relate.

McGill may approve your admission,
based on the English in your letter of motivation,
and provide you with academic recognition.
Mais cet anglais est académique,
Celui-ci installe ses limites.

Merci pour votre lecture,
Cet écrit me parait dur mais je tiens à souligner,
que nos classes ont changé.
La même langue se voit modifiée,
by our accents and vocabulary,
even at times our family history.
Il n’y a pas d’anglais parfait,
mais plutôt un anglais diversifié,
Tout comme ceux par qui cette langue est utilisée.

6 thoughts on “J’articule my thoughts”

  1. Geraldine! This is really super. It reads like a spoken word poem (like the one that inspired it), with cadence and rhythm and a critical message. Thank you for stepping outside the typical boundaries of academic writing and offering this instead.


  2. Hi Geraldine,

    Wow…this truly amazed me! Though I could not understand every detail in the French part (by using a dictionary), I felt very satisfied by just reading them out…it’s really rhythmical! And about the parts I understood, I love when you said “speaking a language is one thing/speaking a culture is another”. Thank you for being so inspiring!



  3. Hi Geraldine,

    Thank you for this inspiring blog post! I find it very powerful, creative and unusual specially that you used both French and English to express your ideas. I don’t read French, however, I liked the idea to the degree that I decided to translate some of the French phrases to be able to understand the content. I am really impressed with your poetic sensibility.



  4. Maxime – Comment 4

    Hi Geraldine,

    It’s very interesting to think about the ‘délimitations’ that are set for language. Kind of like you, I find myself a little trapped with academic English. I speak both French and English quite well and in my daily life, I constantly switch back and forth, ou je les mélange! So when I write these long papers at university, I end up stifling the ways in which I usually express myself to instead conform to academic English. This felt particularly strange when I wrote papers on the topic of translanguaging and similar subjects. Why did I have to write in a such a formal manner, while arguing for the free use of language? Food for thought!


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