The Thinking of Speaking
Issue #3 May / June 2013
A Language Dream
by Hidson Guimarães
May / June 2013 | 

Last night I had a sort of a language dream, that is, a dream involved with language-learning or with speaking foreign languages. Dreaming in a foreign language is not uncommon among language enthusiasts, the so-called "language freaks", but this one seemed quite authentic and realistic.

At this dream I was sitting on a counter with my sister, in front of a commercial building. It was Saturday, early in the morning. I would have an appointment at the eye doctor that day and I would also visit a language school. It turned out that my appointment had been cancelled, so she and I decided to wander a bit downtown then return.

When I came back to the building, I entered the building and went to the language school, located at the second (actually middle) floor. The receptionist greeted me and I told her I was looking for some language courses or materials:

'I'm aware you're into less commercial languages such as Georgian, Aramaic, Papiamentu and Estonian, and I'm afraid I won't have much to offer you, right?'

'Yep. I can see nothing new on the shelves, anyway. Besides, what you have is quite expensive.' (At that time I took a glance at some packs of what looked like those famous language courses with tapes. One of them seemed to cost around 1,500 US$).

I turned around and stepped into what seemed to be an inner courtyard with a balcony to the left, from which I could see the central span of that building. A group of students and their teacher were sitting around a large bench that surrounded the courtyard. The teacher started talking to me in English about my progress, learning strategies and so on. He was speaking so fast that I could barely understand anything. I knew that he was Brazilian and he was trying to speak fast, unintelligible on purpose, just to confuse me. As he realized I wasn't replying very enthusiastically, he switched to Portuguese, and he advised me to try out the courses for more commonly learned languages, as they could also help me at that stage.

I went back to the school and asked the receptionist what she could offer me. She reminded me that I had already done a few placement tests. My English should be about C1, but she was unsure as for which class should I take.

'I don't think I will take any present English courses anytime soon', I replied.

'Then you should check our French courses. Here are the results of the placement tests'.

I looked at the results sheet and I saw that most of the people were assigned to one of two textbooks. I can't recall their names.

'You see, those people will get either our upper-beginner or intermediary textbooks and classes. You, on the other hand, were assigned to a more advanced French book, the Cambriopolitain. I'm afraid I can't give you a prediction of how long it will take till a class with a minimal number of students is formed'.

I turned back, not surprised or disappointed with the standard response a self-learner gets after a placement test. What kept boggling my mind was the name of that textbook: "Cambriopolitain". What on Earth would such textbook be about? The French language as spoken in the bigger cities of France during the Cambrian geological period? Now that is what one would call an archaizing language course.

I woke up. I made sure to google for "Cambriopolitain", "Cambropolitain", "Cambrolitain" and alternate forms. No results until now.

A Language Dream
Writer: Hidson Guimarães
Petey: Building

All images are Copyright - CC BY-SA (Creative Commons Share Alike) by their respective owners, except for Petey, which is Public Domain (PD) or unless otherwise noted.


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