Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Speaking Math

I have always had the desire to become multilingual. My neighbor when I was young had a Caucasian father and a Nicaraguan mother and I remember listening to him speak to his family members in Spanish with just a tinge of jealousy. I studied French in high school and was extremely passionate about learning the language but even though I made it to Advanced Placement French Level 6 my skills weren't actually very advanced at all. Naturally, part of moving to Paris included me finally being able to work on my French language skills. To be honest, I'm still not speaking very much French even though I live in France, but my comprehension of written and spoken French really has made a surprising leap in the past month and a half. My biggest problem getting around Paris though, is with speaking math.

Unlike languages, I hate math. I have always hated math. I have never wanted to be multimathematical. The reason that I am dating a mathematician is so that I never have to do math myself. "Hey Matthias, what's 15+12?" *rolls his eyes at me*
Back to my point, when you buy things, people tell you how much you owe them , IN FRENCH. If it was just about memorizing numbers (and as long as it's a whole number below 69 I'm fine) that would be one thing, but the way that French numbers work is very ...mathematical. I hate math so much that I refuse to really learn how it works, but it's something along the lines of adding and multiplying to get big numbers. For instance, the number "70" is said "40 + 30" but to make it even more confusing, the number "80" is said "20 x 4." Add whole euros and centimes together and my brain really isn't cut out for all that work. Overpaying is a nice option, the issue there being that Parisians pretty much demand to have exact change. Coming from the land of credit card bliss where I almost never ever ever used cash the idea of always having exact amounts of cash on me at all times is just not really very realistic. Besides, euro coins are heavy and the smallest bill available is a 5. So I'll just keep going along giving people too much money or sometimes not enough because being yelled at in French is so much lovelier than doing math.