Je fais semblant d’être Française.
zhuh fay sah-blah det-truh frah-SEZ. Click below to hear this.*
I’m pretending to be French.
Roughly translated, I am making seeming to be French. I can’t say je prétends être Française, because that would be false: it means I claim to be French , which goes far beyond my present fantasy.
Here’s how je fais semblant d’être Française. I’m sitting on the back deck. The sun is hot on my neck, and the birdsong is deafening. I am balancing a little blue plate in my lap: a few slices of cheese, a piece of baguette (homemade, warm from the oven, and very close to the genuine article, if you please), a sweet clementine. I even have a dog (remember that dogs are allowed in many French restaurants), poking her nose into my lap every few seconds.
She would not be so ill-mannered in a real French restaurant. She would be lying docilely under the table, because that’s her place. And in my fantasy, I can be in two places–three, four–at once. On a beach in southern France, listening to the hiss and roar of waves. Leaning against a menhir in Brittany, eating fresh strawberries just bought at le marché. Under a plane tree in the Dordogne, with a ripe juicy peach by my side for dessert. In a sidewalk café in Paris, watching people bustle past, listening to the rise and fall of French voices all around me.
Oh! Where was I? I think I was about to remind you that capital-f Français(e) is a person, while lowercase-f français is a language or a description of a thing. And that most of this is more like the life of a carefree tourist than that of a real Français.
But never mind all that. I think I will go back to ma fantaisie, if that’s okay with you.
*Some mobile phones, such as Blackberries, won’t display the audio player. If no player appears, here’s an alternative link to the audio file: