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THE MAIL

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

(Ed. Note--The Crimson does not necessarily endorse opinions expressed in printed communications. No attention will be paid to anonymous letters and only under special conditions, at the request of the writer will names be with held.)

French As She Is spoke

To the Editor of the CRIMSON:

Some criticism of the methods of the correctors in the French Department is in order. I do not know whether papers from all course in the Department are read by the same correctors my plaint specifically concern French 2. In this course an exercise in idiomatic composition is required once a week. And each week when I am landed back my corrected paper I am forced to concede the justice of about one-third the red ink spilled thereon--but with the other two-thirds I take strenuous issue. Even the class instructor's version often differs with the readers. "Just a difference of opinion between experts," or "Perhaps the reader interpreted the passage in another way--". Perfectly sound explanations, but just where dew that leave my grade? In order to write a perfect paper for next Thursday I must not only write a correct one; in addition I must foresee just 'how the reader will take it." I do not know the gentleman who reads my paper, but I'll wager that, notwithstanding the decisiveness with which he decrees that this expression is right, that in wrong, if he ever spent a day in France he was shepherded by a Cook's guide.

Are we learning French? Or are we learning a dead language based on an artificial, academic standard which may have been perfect from-in 1898. I grant the difficulty of employing as readers only men who speak and read contemporary Parisian French. But these gentlemen should take that fact into consideration; they should consider all possible interpretations and give the student the benefit of the doubt where a doubt exists; they should remember that while there are numerous cases on which all authorities would agree, there are half as many more on which no two agree--and concede the point; they should remember that the line dividing idiomatic and colloquial French is ever tenuous, ever changing; and finally they should bear in mind that the spectacle of hairsplitting grammarians is matched in absurdity only by that of hair-splitting theologians. Oran Corbett '35.

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