,” she said, “they think that English is the only language.” I so visibly rolled my eyes in disgust that the professor looked at me, the only American in the class, and said, “But I’m not counting you.” America
Thanks, but it was too late to matter.
It was another day at the Sorbonne Nouvelle. We were discussing our research projects and the topic of language and translations came up, a favorite weekly topic. Apparently everyone was immediately an expert in American culture and they started criticizing the way Americans watch only English films or else foreign films dubbed in English.
That’s when professor, a fiery-eyed French woman in her 50s or 60s, dropped the stereotype bomb. Not only was it misplaced in a class with quite a few foreign students but it was followed with the clear-as-mud reasoning that is emblematic of these kinds of situations. “The numbers speak,” she said. “Only 10% of Americans have passports.” Suddenly not traveling translates to being ignorant of other languages. Is there a hint of truth? Maybe. Is it fair reasoning in a masters-level program at the Sorbonne? Probably not…