Course of
Linguistics and Literature

Professor SAKAGAMI Ruriko (French Language and Literature)

[Theme] My Relationship with French Linguistics Studies

While taking a course in translating Japanese into French a few years after I began studying the French language, I remember being upset about a long way to master this foreign language. The professor pointed out that sentences in French which I constructed following carefully the gramatical rules were not naturel. I was told "there is no such expression" or "that conveys a different meaning." I was upset because I did not have any idea of just how much I was going to have to study before I could translate my thoughts into French in a manner such that a native speaker of French would understand. This would be the beginning of my deeper involvement with French.

Studying English as a first foreign language and then moving on to French mean that we learn two foreign languages while comparing their similarities and differences, as well as their similarities and differences with Japanese. During this process, I found the greatest need in being master of usage of the tense. In order to construct proper sentences in French, at the very least, we need to arrange a subject and a verb of which the tense we have to properly choose. My starting point in further study of French Grammar problems was nothing but a practical desire. I wanted to be able to choose a proper tense of verbs when I construct a sentence in French. Therefore, it never occurred to me that I would dwell so deeply into this domain of linguistic problems, that is "Time and Aspect".

To begin a stduy of this subject, I read various research materials and papers in search of a convicting theory. However, this is a field that attracted the interest of many scholars, and when I found out just how enormous were the volumes of research from all sorts of different approaches, a considerable amount of time had already passed since I had begun my studies. I finally encountered a certain logical approach of this field that extremely interested me. However, in order to apply that theory myself after comprehending the entirety of the theory, I had to study other subjects seemingly unrelated to learning a foreign language such as logic, mathematics, basic computer programming,etc. I understood the relations among neighboring disciplines and the necessity of having a wealth of knowledge. Now, I attach great importance to interdisplinary methods.

While dwelling into the study of "a foreign language" and turning our attention to the background of an idiomatic expression or a use of sentence structure, we gradually notice that we have to analize what is occurring in the mind of its native speakers when they use that expression or that sentence structure if we would like to have a very good command of "a foreign language". In recent years, apart from problems concerning the tense of verbs, I have also become much more aware of the importance of cognitive activity of native speakers in other types of French expressions. This viewpoint describes the stance from which I analyze French.

Another reason I became so interested in the further exploration of French was a desire to someday well appreciate French literature comparing various author's style. The way to the realization of this desire seems long; however, I still hope that "someday" will eventually arrive.

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